The Phoenix Network:
About  |  Advertise
Adult  |  Moonsigns  |  Band Guide  |  Blogs  |  In Pictures
CD Reviews  |  Classical  |  Live Reviews  |  Music Features
100 unsexiest men 2009

The kids are OK!

Boston Rules brings back the good old days of punk
By BARRY THOMPSON  |  March 31, 2009

UP FROM UNDER Far from Finished are one of 23 bands playing the Boston Rules fest at Harpers. 

There has been much debate — public, behind closed doors, and on message boards — as to whether Boston punk does in fact rule. (For those of you under 24: a message board is like Facebook, only really slow.) And should you choose to assert that Boston punk isn't the tits within earshot of any of the proud several who've invested a chunk of themselves in this enduring circuit, he may — even if he agrees — request that you go get fucked with a vacuum cleaner, you revolting hipster douche.

It's like beating up your little brother. You do it all the time, but mostly out of love, and anyone who tries to do the same is begging for a wallopin' . . . or at least an earful. So don't try to convince Ben Bornstein that the Rathskeller, a deceased punk mecca better known as the Rat, wasn't as cool as he remembers it from the '90s. Furthermore, quit giving him shit for booking a handful of non-Bostonians onto his Boston Rules, OK? Fest.

"I've heard a lot of drama about that. The way I look at it, the bands from out of town, like the Casualties, Blanks 77, and the Wretched Ones, had such a big say in our scene back then, they should be a part of this just as much as the others."

An homage to the Rat's Boston Punk Rock Olympics of yore, itself an homage to the original Punk Rock Olympics at CBGB (Bornstein would've called this the Boston Punk Rock Olympics had it not been for a potential copyright infringement), Boston Rules, OK? packs 23 bands into a weekend with two noontime all-ages endeavors and a pair of boozy 21+ nights at Harpers. We have bellwether locals like Far from Finished, Mouth Sewn Shut, and Mark Lind & the Unloved, resurrected legends the Pinkerton Thugs, patchworks of scene vets like Blood Stained Brindle, and a plethora of others.

Formerly a chronic regional punk promoter and bassist for Lost Cause (also playing Boston Rules), Bornstein returned to his native North Reading seven months ago, after several years in California, to start his own special-effects/make-up company. Having booked more than 250 New England shows during his run (the night he lost his booking virginity in North Reading, he paid Mike McColgan $50 after the Dropkicks played), he may have felt he needed to throw a moonstruck shit show of punk to feel truly at home. "Two months after I got back, I was like, 'I'm going to book a huge punk show!' I tried to do an all-star line-up from back when I was a kid going to shows. This was the closest thing to that I could."

Many familiar faces from around the Rat era's campfire remain, and a bunch of them are playing Boston Rules. "When I started hanging out around Harvard Square, there were all kinds of punks running around all over the place," recalls Brian Riley, long-time Bostonian and guitarist for newly revived proto-punkers Side Effects. "Everybody was looking for the next 40-ounce and a place to drink it. I'll never forget spending entire weekends at the Rat, waking up Monday, and not remembering any of it."

"At the time, you knew everybody who was going to shows, or you'd recognize them and might have a nickname for them," says Tommy of punk statesmen Tommy and the Terrors. "With some people, I wouldn't say their nickname to their face. That's one thing that's lacking nowadays. The scene's kind of fragmented. It's cool to have something reminiscent of the Punk Rock Olympics that brings together people who wouldn't normally cross paths."

"Boston's one of the first cities to have an amazing hardcore scene, and it's still going strong." says Razors in the Night singer, owner of Horror Business, and Miami transplant Troy Schoeller. "Boston's in the middle of all these major cities, so it's easy to get to if you're a touring band, and it's brutal in the winter, so it makes us all harder. People have a lot of anger to get out, in a positive way."

All these interviewees are delighted with Boston punk's existing condition. And if some of what they say sounds a little nostalgic . . . well, perhaps it is. Then again, one person's nostalgia can be a younger person's cultural reawakening. As Bornstein points out, "When I was handing flyers to kids outside the Dropkicks shows, it didn't seem like some of them had ever been to an underground show before. This could be their first local, truly underground punk show."

And, of course, if in 10 years a smattering of those kids are here bitching about how much better the punk scene was back in their day, all will be right with the world.

BOSTON RULES, OK? FESTIVAL | Harpers Ferry, 158 Brighton Ave, Allston | April 4-5: noon + 8 pm | $40 for a four-show pass; $13 per individual show | 617.254.9743 or

Related: Post-masters, Post-punk pantheon, Boston music news: February 2, 2007, More more >
  Topics: Music Features , Entertainment, Harpers Ferry, Mark Lind,  More more >
  • Share:
  • RSS feed Rss
  • Email this article to a friend Email
  • Print this article Print
Re: The kids are OK!
I'm all about this, except for the inclusion of the Wretched Ones.  They may have contributed to Boston's scene eons ago, but with the shit they've pulled in recent years they have no business even showing their faces around here.  2 years ago I played a show they were on in Boston.  After being a bitch all night insisting on getting paid before their set, and then getting the money, WO's drummer then cut the set short, and started taunting the booker (who had already paid him and incidentally does TONS for Boston including playing, booking shows, and releasing records for local bands) into saying something.  When the booker refused to be baited, WO's drummer just clocked him in the head from behind and slammed his face into the pavement, knocking him out and causing him to miss work and suck up medical expenses.  Then, those "helpers of the Boston scene" the chickenshit Wretched Ones piled into their van and split town in less than a minute.  Whatever they did so long ago it no longer matters, the WOs recent history is nothing but taking from the Boston scene and then spitting in its face.  Fuck those old, talentless, whiny drunks.  I'll be at some of those shows, but definitely not that night.
By sethro on 03/31/2009 at 1:11:06
Re: The kids are OK!
OPPOSING VIEWPOINT:  I booked the Wretched Ones in Boston recently (well, last year) and they were perfect gentlemen.  Everyone had a gay olde time cutting up, acting the fool and enjoying themselves.   Support the scene, etc.
By sirlancelot on 04/01/2009 at 10:39:27
Re: The kids are OK!
SirLanceLot You are usually wrong about everything but, in this instance, you are correct. Everyone has an off night and everyone has a little too much to drink now and again. Time heals all wounds. Judge them by their roughly 2 decade track record, not that one night. Holding a grudge does nothing but bring down the grudgeholder. Peace and love. Harmony in the scene. Flowers and friends.
By Charlie and the Chillouts on 04/01/2009 at 10:48:24
Re: The kids are OK!
Soooo, Lancelot and Charlie... did the Wretched Ones drummer make good and pay for the hospital bills caused by his "off night"? No. Did the rest of the Wretched Ones stop their moody drummer from hitting the booker? No, but they helped with the speedy get-away. Oh, maybe they were ALL having an off night. Sure. Peace, love, and give the bad guy a free pass, huh?
By JrBacon on 04/01/2009 at 11:38:25
Re: The kids are OK!
I have spoken with both parties involved and neither version of the story I heard is as cut and dry as you posted.  But that really is beside the point and not worth retreading here.  If you really care that much you should probably take it up with the Wretched Ones when they play here this Saturday.  I was just sharing one recent "positive" experience with those gentlemen since it is hard enough to get an all ages punk show booked in Boston without people trying to stir up internet drama that will do nothing other than possibly hurt the promoters chance of not losing his ass on the show.  
By sirlancelot on 04/01/2009 at 11:58:09
Re: The kids are OK!
Precisely. We're talking about one band on a multiple band bill. I wasn't at the show in question but the point is, discuss it with the dudes themselves (in a perfect world, this would have been done well before resurfacing this issue here) as opposed to potentially casting a shadow over a promising punk show...something which has become a rarity around these parts as of late.
By Charlie and the Chillouts on 04/01/2009 at 12:19:27
Re: The kids are OK!
Who are The Wretched Ones? Are the new-ish? I'm trying to see if I can get my band on the bill. We played fully aggro-ed oi! and even throw in a cover of BFB's "Goin' Down the Bar." Raise your pint and sing along!
By GuinnessBoi69 on 04/01/2009 at 12:58:45
Re: The kids are OK!
OK- I didn't mean to start a tirade- I was only expressing my own personal opinion.  I'm sure that no one's going to get screwed because I called a band out on their behavior and gave a reason why I wouldn't be there that night.  I will never put a dime in those guys' pockets, but I am all about supporting the music scene and this set of shows in particular.  I WILL be at at least one of the shows. Up until that point I had had only good experiences with WO the other 2 times I'd played with them.  Regardless as to what anyone has said about it, I was there and watched the entire thing unfold (except for the actual punch- it was when almost everyone had gone home and I was loading gear, but he was still on the ground bleeding when I got outside).  What I did actually see was some guy whose never lifted a finger for any of us repeatedly threatening a friend of mine who does do positive things for Boston music, take money he hadn't yet earned, and then going back on the arrangement and playing half a set.  In most places that's called "robbing".  Then after having gotten everything he wanted, he hit my friend from behind and the whole band took off rather than dealing with the issue like grownups.  I would hope that any one of you would take the same position I have, if not a more extreme one, if you saw it happen to one of your friends.
By sethro on 04/01/2009 at 1:59:47
Re: The kids are OK!
Sorry- I meant to say "who's" and not "whose". Anyway- unless you have your own personal grudge against WO (or any other band playing Sat night) by all means go to that show.  The Skels rule (and are good friends of mine) and The Side Effects are great too.  I wasn't trying to get a boycott going or anything so don't get all panicky.
By sethro on 04/01/2009 at 2:32:24
Re: The kids are OK!
Remember that time the Wretched Ones did that show where they strapped cones to the heads of regular ponies and then offered unicorn rides for a buck a piece? Dicks.
By OIctopus on 04/01/2009 at 10:57:58

Today's Event Picks
--> -->
Share this entry with Delicious

 See all articles by: BARRY THOMPSON

RSS Feed of for the most popular articles
 Most Viewed   Most Emailed 

  |  Sign In  |  Register
Phoenix Media/Communications Group:
Copyright © 2009 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group