WASHINGTON, August 24, 2012 – After the first surge of songs in the Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ set at their 9:30 Club Tuesday night gig, lead singer Dicky Barrett brought up the promise he’d made to the crowd at the Club two years prior to this performance: namely that the Bosstones would eventually be back to Washington DC. Standing in essentially the same place, he assumed, from where he had made that promise, he beamed at the audience, knowing his vow had been fulfilled.
In hindsight, though, we all should have known. There was never any doubt the Bosstones would be taking the stage there again, just like they’ll do some time in the foreseeable future.
Formed in Boston around 1983, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones can easily be hailed as the one of the first ska-core bands. Their sound over the years has effortlessly fused ska, punk, and hardcore even before such a hybrid create had possessed its very own genre signifier. Most likely, the Bosstones would’ve been just fine being known as something of an underground cult hit for their entire careers. But in 1997, they hit the mainstream in a major way with their hit single “The Impression that I Get.”
That signature song is still something of a capper for their sets, and the popularity that it still generates to this day has given them a much larger fan base than they would have normally garnered otherwise. What it’s actually allowed them to do is continue to keep having fun for nearly three decades running.
Fun is what a Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ show is all about. It really seems amazing that their infectious energy on stage hasn’t died down throughout the decades they’ve been performing. Often times a band with similar mileage will have a “going through the motions” kind of feel to its live set. This kind of tired, worn-out feeling is immediately picked up by fans and can quickly tank a show without much of a push.
The Bosstones perform their set with the same kind of youthful enthusiasm you might expect from a fresh, new band that’s just penned a batch of new songs. Granted, several of the songs the Bosstones performed are off their most recent album, The Magic of Youth. Yet, in a set that lasted well over an hour, they also covered a wide range of their vintage discography. And through it all they never let up, never yielded even an ounce of their considerable energy.
The best example of the Bosstones’ unparalleled energy is the “Bosstone” himself, Ben Carr. This may be the most curious aspect of the Bosstone’s live show. Carr has been with the band since very near its inception, yet provides nothing in the way of vocal or instrumental capacity. But there he is up on stage during the entire show, just dancing away, never doing anything else but also never taking a break in his frenetic activity. It’s almost hypnotic watching him up on stage, knowing that he represents the heart and soul of the band, and realizing he’s been doing this frantic schtik seemingly forever.
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones have been performing for a long, long time and there’s nothing really new about the band in a purely innovative sense. Maybe when ska-core wasn’t as ingrained in various scenes as it is now, the Bosstones could’ve have taken fans off guard. But today, everyone knows what they’re getting out of a Bosstones show. It’s that reassurance, though, that makes the show the event that it is. Everyone knows the Bosstones are going to play with endless energy, and everyone knows that, at the very least, everyone is going to have some fun. Few things in life carry more certainty than the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. But few things in life are more welcome.
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