By Raga Chilakamarri
An older woman sporting a shiny gray bob and dark sunglasses grooved to the beat of the music, her right hand bumping, tight around a can, her red lipstick loud like the guitar riff and her leopard-print bag banging against her side. She wore a dark blue denim jacket and matching denim skirt; his fishnets ended in fashion-forward Vans. She was having a blast.
Last Saturday, Somerville saw vacant land turned into a rock concert hall, hosting the day-long Rumstock Music Festival, a Summer Series event hosted by ONCE Somerville at Boynton Yards. Entrance signs say “No Crowd Surfing”.
Doors opened at 12:00 p.m. for the Daytime Music Festival featuring local bands, and at 6:00 p.m. the evening show began, where Boston label Rum Bar Records presented a line-up of four rock and surf bands, culminating in a showcase of nine bands in total. A few vendors were selling vintage clothing, jewelry, and antique trinkets, and a food truck was parked on the left side along a row of tables offering merchandise supporting the artists. By the end of the evening, the total number of participants was around 270 people.
The stage was a raised platform under a white tent, with paper discs strung along streamers as decorations. Vibrant lights washed performers with a range of brighter colors as night fell and to the right of the main crowd, attendees left a collection of chalk doodles on the sidewalk. At some point during the final set, four inflated beach balls were ushered into the crowd, inserting bursts of childlike play into the otherwise older audience.
There was a sense of appreciation, support and nostalgia among the evening goers, a demographic made up of mostly white rockers over the age of 50, many of whom sported baseball caps and t-shirts with prints like “The Drumfather”, “High Karate” or “The Bomb Pops”. Aside from the headbutts and tremors of a few young people in the front, the dance was expressed in rigorous nods and foot taps , the positive energy and spirit of fun nonetheless evident throughout the spirited performances.
The GypsyMoths closed the night with their six-voice sound, saxophone, guitar, bass, keyboard and drums, giving their record performance after recently signing with Rum Bar Records. Guitarist Chris Conway said the band first got together in 2014 for vinyl parties that morphed into live vinyl parties and eventually into their current form, with each member hailing from an independent band in the 1980s. During the day, the GypsyMoths have various careers, including an AV guy and a scientist, Conway said.
Regarding his songwriting process, lead singer Muck of The Muck and the Mires simply said, “We make a lot of them and throw the rotten ones away,” before smiling. His shaggy hair, tight pants and black shirt with a single white stripe on the buttons only added to his rock star look: a confidence that had the whole crowd shaking earlier in the evening.
“We can drink beer and listen to rock and roll!” someone exclaimed from the stage before the penultimate song, summing up the evening with shouts and cheers.
For those who missed Rumstock, ONCE Somerville has more concerts in store for their Summer Series, with events advertised on Facebook and tickets sold online on their website: https://oncesomerville.com.