the Mighty Mighty Bosstones – 2009.08.15 – Casino Ballroom, Hampton Beach, NH.

Getting old sucks. All the old-person ailments, aches and pains suck. Having to get up to go to the bathroom in thethe Mighty Mighty Bosstones middle of the night sucks. The only redeeming thing I’ve been able to put my finger on is that I’ve now been around long enough that lots of my favorite bands from my youth have run out of money and decided to reunite. I now get the opportunity to see some bands that I either never had the chance to see, or haven’t seen in many many years. Cases in point; the Descendents, the Angry Samoans, the Freeze, Gang Green, the Pixies, Mission of Burma, the Police, Black Sabbath (with Ozzy), and Kiss (in make-up). Some with better results than others. I make it a point to get out to these types of shows whenever possible using the “this may be my only chance to see these guys ever” excuse.

I used this same theory when I read that the Mighty Mighty Bosstones were playing at the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom this August. Couple the fact that the Casino Ballroom is one of my favorite places to see a show, and I jumped on 4 tickets. Now I’m quickly learning that I may be the only one in my circle of friends that has this strange fascination with seeing grown men and women play the music of my youth. I sent my standard notice out to all the people on my cool-show-alert mailing list (it’s not been so formally named, but yes, I do send cool-show-alerts). Guess how many responded? None. Not one. 

When I was in college, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones were Boston’s hometown band. The J. Geils Band was gone, Aerosmith was off making bloated arena rock, and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones filled this city’s need for a mascot. That torch was later passed to the Dropkick Murphy’s who have been keeping the hometown fire burning for years. I never had the opportunity to see the Mighty Mighty Bosstones way back when. To my recollection, they didn’t play a lot of hometown shows during their later career. Instead, spending most of the year on the road and returning to Boston for their annual Hometown Throwdown during the week following Christmas. December has never been a good time for me to get to a show. I usually can’t make time to brush my teeth every morning, let alone stay out all night at a show. Therefore, I never got the chance. 

I was a little skeptical of this show. I was a huge fan of the first album, Devil’s Night Out. It was a perfect dichotomy of punk and ska. It was sections of punk running headlong into ska, then back to punk. I loved the no-holds-barred way the 2 smashed together. Each successive album melded to 2 sides together more and more until their music became radio-friendly, college-jock, mush. So I head to this show on the shoulders of one short album, released in 1989 (Holy crap! I can’t believe it was really 20 years ago). 

I’ve got another worry as I get ready to head off to the show, my wife and I are going with another couple; our “grown-up” friends. Now I use the term “grown-up” friends simply to differentiate them from those friends that we’ve known all our lives. These friends have known us only as adults. They have no frame of reference for my early days of mosh pits and stage dives. How exactly to you go to a punk-rock show with grown-up friends? I’m young enough to still think I can mix it up with the best of them in a pit, but old enough to know most 40-ish adults see a mosh pit and run for safety. Shannon’s known me for the better part of my live and has managed to want to stay married to me for the better part of 15 years, right? No worries there. But these friends have no obligation whatsoever. Shannon would be pissed if we took them to a show and scared them off forever. I decided to play the whole thing be ear, relax and enjoy the night. 

The Bosstones hit the stage, opening with Devil’s Night Out. I was shocked! 3 hours earlier I had been carefully explaining to Shannon (and I suppose preparing myself for letdown) that they probably wouldn’t play anything from their first album; all their “hits” came from their later records. And here they go, opening the show with my favorite track. All internal debates about mosh pits and grown-up friends are out the window. I disappear into the thrall for 4 songs. They plow through the first part of the set and I exit after they finish a cover of Simmer Down, heading back towards my wife and friends; brand-new sandals crushed, sweating like a WWE wrestler. 

The rest of the show was great. They played all the hits, some surprising gems, and they peppered the set with some great covers; the Clash’s, Rudie Can’t Fail and (!!!) the Angry Samoans, Lights Out to name a couple. What impressed me most was how tight they were. I always thought of the Bosstones as having been a little sloppy, particularly on the punk side of the music. The ska was always razor sharp but the hardcore always felt a little like a bulldozer to me. Tonight though, they were on. Perfect timing throughout. 

Unfortunately, the perfect timinng leads to my only real criticism; there wasn’t anything that felt like spontaneity about this show. Like so many of the reunion shows that I’ve seen, this was a march through greatest-hits-land. Even the covers, though brilliantly chosen, were staged for perfection. The nuggets that I expected they wouldn’t play seemed chosen specifically for that reason. I know that probably sounds unfair, as though there were nothing they could have done to satisfy this music fan, but I did leave feeling a little like I’d watched a serviceable cover-band playing the hits of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones

Even that criticism didn’t interfere with my enjoyment of the show. All in all I had a great time and welcomed the opportunity to see a classic band from the early years of my discovery of punk. I had a great night out with my wife and friends. I will still look forward to the next (insert-your-favorite-broken-up-band’s-name-here) retirement fund building reunion show. Will I quit my job, buy a VW bus and tour the country with the Bosstones? Probably not.


~ by spinthis45 on August 23, 2009.

One Response to “the Mighty Mighty Bosstones – 2009.08.15 – Casino Ballroom, Hampton Beach, NH.”

  1. um ya..I guess I didn’t get the cool show memo, but I did know they were playing.

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