Last May, Reptar was the opening band for Grouplove at the Metro.
What a stellar show. What a killer pair of new acts.
By the fall, Reptar was out on their own, touring with an opening band called Rubblebucket. Having previously dug Reptar as an opening act (and eventually declaring Body Faucet 2012's Album of the Year), I decided to check out their new opening act.
Whoa... That's Rubblebucket down at the bottom being insanely catchy. Good luck with those off-beats in your head the rest of the day.
Opening bands have unfortunately stumbled into a pretty poor reputation lately, stacking themselves upon one-another until you're too inebriated to remember who you came to see by the time they go on. It used to be that rock bands hand-picked one like-minded -- or perhaps quite different -- opening act for you to enjoy. But now, we often just try to arrive conveniently late.
In the '90s, rotating popular bands of the week often split bills, essentially co-headlining. It was a time when my friends and I could have had our mail delivered to the Aragon Ballroom -- we managed to catch Marcy Playground opening for Fastball, Smashmouth (hey, the first album was good) opening for Third Eye Blind and the Smoking Popes leading-in Eve 6. Whenever I talk about live acts from the '90s it seems as if I'd made it a personal mission to catch anyone who got any airplay whatsoever (I've seen Chumbawamba (they were good)).
Real opening bands back then often turned-up stellar finds, like when a young Michael Franti and Spearhead opened for 311 in 1997 at the (then) Rosemont Horizon. We had floor. And everyone bounced on the still-laid-down soccer field all night (happiest mosh pit ever).
Or, more recently, L. and I caught Whispertown laying down a set for Rilo Kiley at the Metro in 2004. Still one of our favorite indie-folk bands.
But as it stands now, we are often subjected to multiple random local bands, too green to have found their sound, or -- if you go see a bigger rock act -- bands being pushed by the label (cut to 2006 and I confusedly witnessed Papa Roach open for 311). All those wonderful day-long, back-to-back-stacked jamborees where I gobbled-up awesome sets in my teens are now week-long, literally-everybody-is-here (including several bands that spontaneously formed from the crowd), take-all-the-money festivals.
But there are still small rock bands are doing it right.
Indie kids supporting indie kids.
There are probably several reasons the opening band is not dead. We can first assume that touring in vans and small buses means you're both partying with and seeing the other band's set on a nightly basis -- you better damn well dig something about them. Beyond that, a solid bill draws-in fans who may have heard of the opening band, or people who happen to be fans of both bands, or fans of good music in general (who may remember a band bringing a cool opening act in the past).
And having witnessed this phenomena in action again recently, I appreciate those in the community still making the effort.
Reptar themselves, while quickly growing, are still indie as hell. Having some of the Rubblebucket crowd at their shows won't hurt. Neither did rocking for the Grouplove crowd (in fact, the kids took-in their set quite enthusiastically last May at the Metro).
Rubblebucket may not yet be a radio hit machine -- with their spacey melodies and near-constantly offbeat, staggering songs -- but they certainly jam some fresh music. With enough different audiences they should develop a following. Hopefully in the future they'll come back into town with yet another cool opening band for us to dig.
Or maybe, when Rubblebucket is the biggest band in the world, they'll take Grouplove around on Christian and Hannah's final reunion tour.
The circle of band life.
Rubblebucket's Oversaturated EP is out now. Their co-bandleaders met at music school in Vermont and you can hear that smart, quick sense in the music. I guarantee that if you're reading this, you'll dig it.
Check out a new tune here. Or some older ones below....
[ Below: "Triangular Daisies"; Below that: "Came Out of A Lady"]