This is a bit of a long post. You can skip to the last three paragraphs if you want to get to the point of the whole thing.
I think I’ve seen The Mighty Mighty Bosstones 8 times. The more I see the band and listen to their music the more they become one of my all-time favorite bands. Last week they played Seattle, and while I know it wasn’t because I asked them to back in December, I’d like to think my request had a small part to play in their decision to tour the west coast this summer.
I don’t remember when I first heard the band. It was probably 1992 with “Where’d You Go?” – the video showed up on MTV and while it didn’t get the major airplay other bands did at the time it was shown enough during their “alternative rock” blocks which I always watched for me to be interested. By the time the third album came out in 1993 I was a fan.
That third album would be their breakout, with the hit “Someday I Suppose” a song that affects me to this day. Actually every time they play it live I cry. There’s something about the wistful nature of the lyrics, the near regret, as well as my own failings of memory. I try not to analyze it too much.
Of course the band’s commercial breakthrough would be with their 5th album and the song “The Impression That I Get” which I thought was good at the time, and the more I hear it over the years the more I like it. It’s a great song, but I do wish some others had been their biggest mainstream hit.
It wasn’t until nearly 10 years after I became a fan of the band that I would get to see The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. If they came to Seattle to play I wouldn’t be able to go for whatever reason, and I wasn’t in a position then to travel to see a band. I think it was after the band’s 7th album, A Jackknife To A Swan and the subsequent tour when I finally caught the band live and I wasn’t disappointed.
A hiatus for the band followed that album and tour, and I wasn’t sure I would see them again. Disappointed? Sure, but at least I got to see them once.
In 2007 the band got back together, recorded a few tracks, put them together with some rarities and hit the road again. I had forgotten about the band for a few years, but this tour not only jogged my memory but really galvanized my affection for the band.
While The Mighty Mighty Bosstones didn’t break up, the band’s activity slowed considerably. The number of albums released didn’t come as regularly (but they came) and they toured, just not as extensively as they used to. Again, I had my doubts as to whether or not I would see The Mighty Mighty Bosstones again.
Then in 2011 my friend Stephen convinced my wife it was a good idea for us to go to Boston for a couple of nights. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones have a tradition of playing their hometown every year sometime between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. This is known as the Hometown Throwdown. To see the band in their hometown with a party atmosphere? Yes, please!
For years I had wanted to see The Mighty Mighty Bosstones in Boston. The band is very much a Boston band, in the same way that Sir Mix-A-Lot is a Seattle rapper, you listen to the lyrics and there are shout-outs to local landmarks and whatnot. A hometown show always has a different energy than when a band plays on tour, and for this band that feeds off the audience, I was eager to experience it.
And it was a great show. Well, shows. The Hometown Throwdown had the band playing for 3 nights and I had tickets for 2 of them. Not only did the band play a massive set, there was a meet & greet and I not only got to meet the band and get a couple of things signed, but they posed for a picture with my son’s Flat Stanley school project. Really nice guys.
I was struck as some differences in the set list between the second and third nights. They weren’t major differences, just a couple of songs and guest appearances, but there were differences. And then there was something lead singer Dicky Barrett said on the final night. He asked the audience who had been there all three nights. When a good chunk of the crowd cheered their response, he said “Those are the mutherfuckers!” praising those dedicated fans who stuck through all three nights. That’s when it hit me. If I was going to go to another Hometown Throwdown, it won’t be for just one or two nights, it would be for the whole run.
And that’s what I did.
Last year I was able to return to Boston and see the band again, all three nights of the Hometown Throwdown. And I came prepared as well, armed with a couple of items to bring to the anticipated meet & greet to have signed. While there wasn’t an item from my kids’ school for the band to take a picture with, I did bring along a choice old album for the members to sign.
I don’t want to go into this last trip too much as I wrote about it quite a bit already. Suffice to say that it was a very satisfying three nights of music and if it was the last I would ever see of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, I would have been a very happy fan. The band played my request of “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” (no, really, it was solicited via Twitter).
Still, that last night, as Dicky Barrett sat among the audience after the show signing whatever fans put in front of him, I said “Please come back to Seattle!” and he replied “We’re thinking about it.”
Now I’m not going to take credit for the band coming back to Seattle. Well, maybe a little.
This summer the band went on tour again and Seattle was one of those destinations. As soon as I could I purchased tickets for Stephan and myself. While I didn’t expect them to play “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” I was sort of surprised at some of the songs that were absent from the set list. Missing were “Where’d You Go?” and “Tin Soldiers” among some other staples I had come to expect. Still, it was an excellent set and the band was in top form.
After the show Dicky Barrett sat at the edge of the stage signing whatever fans would put in front of him. I debated for a minute whether or not to go up and have my ticket signed and thank him for coming back to Seattle, but the crowd surrounding him was huge and I needed to get home.
Instead I have this post which is a very long way of saying “Thank you” to The Mighty Mighty Bosstones not only for coming back to Seattle to play, but for the decades of great music and memories.