“Hey, how was your trip to Boston?”
I’m glad you asked.
While I have traveled to Boston several times, this is my third time going specifically to see the Mighty Mighty Bosstones during their Hometown Throwdown. I am incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to go, and by myself, which leaves Laura home with the kids. I am very fortunate.
Leaving on Tuesday night I flew overnight and landed in Boston ridiculously early Wednesday morning. Getting to my friend’s apartment I settled in and lay down for a little while. My friend who lives in Boston, Marianne (I have mentioned her before on the blog), was out of town for the duration of my stay, leaving me and another friend, Stephen, who used to live in Boston but now lives a few blocks from me here in Seattle, to have the place to ourselves.
Stephen had gone off to visit family, and after getting a couple hours of rest I headed out to do one of the things I planned on for this trip.
One of the things I like about Boston (and by Boston I mean the city of Boston itself as well as the immediate surrounding touwnships) that there is actual public transportation that can be used to get around effectively. It only took one bus ride and a bit of walking but I reached Bunker Hill just after lunchtime.
It had been well over a decade since I have been to Bunker Hill, despite travelling to Boston several times over the last few years. Every time I walked the Freedom Trail I wound up visiting the U.S.S. Constitution. Sure, the two are pretty close, but the timing on previous visits did not allow for me to spend any significant amount of time with both, so I made a choice.
I don’t remember going to the Bunker Hill Museum last time I was there, but admittedly, it has been well over a decade since. I wanted to make sure I visited the museum, but I wanted to first go up the Bunker Hill Monument first. It was tougher than I remember, but that was any number of years ago (and quite a few added pounds since) but I made it to the top without stopping and not too winded. I enjoyed the view for a little bit then headed down.
The Bunker Hill Museum is free as part of the National Park Service, but donations are accepted. It’s not a big place but does have some very interesting displays and information. While I knew the general storyline of what happened (the revolutionaries lost the battle but the British lost nearly half their troops in the taking of the hill) I did learn a bit with my trip this time.
After heading back to the apartment to feed the cats I then made my way down to the location of my purpose for visiting Boston in the first place. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones Hometown Throwdown. After dinner at Boston Beer Works, which I recommend, mostly for the beer, I headed over to the venue and met up with Stephen.
The first opening band was Canada’s Planet Crashers, and I had never heard of them so was looking forward to checking them out. I was not disappointed. A more “traditional” ska band of the second wave variety their set was high energy and they won me over as a fan. I wish I had been able to get a better picture. Hopefully they will be able to make it down from Canada to tour.
For the second opening band it was the only one on the three night bill I was not only familiar with but had seen before – The Skatelites from Jamaica. It has been nearly 20 years since I saw Skatelites live, and I am pretty sure a number of members of the group have changed since the last time, but original singer Doreen Shaffer did come out for a few songs. Quality stuff by a band that has outlived its members.
It was then time for the main act. Only there was a guest performer.
Wreckless Eric, who you probably don’t remember but had a minor hit back in 1978 (I think) “Whole Wide World” about finding the girl that was meant for him. The theme of this year’s Hometown Throwdown was Whole Wide World – each of the opening acts were from a different country. Wreckless Eric came out moments before the Bosstones did and performed this song, just him and his guitar, each night, and it wasn’t until the third night that I made the connection between the song and the Hometown Throwdown theme. I am a little ashamed of myself.
And The Mighty Mighty Bosstones came out and rocked the joint into submission.
And it was only the first night.
While enjoyable, the night was not trouble-free. I had my small backpack with me and had planned on using the coat check to have it safely tucked away, along with my coat during the concert. After standing in line to get in and after the tickets were scanned I was told I would not be able to bring the backpack inside. I understand the reasoning for this, but it would have been nice to have a bit of warning. Also, this was going to be part of our plan for the third night as we would be leaving directly from the concert to the airport and had hoped to be able to place our bags in the coat check. Better find out that we would not be able to do this on the first night. We took my backpack to Stephen’s rental car and stood in line again. By the time we got in we had missed a few songs of The Planet Smashers, which is unfortunate but did catch the majority of their set.
Sleeping in for day two I didn’t get out until what would be considered lunch time. A bus ride, a subway ride and a short walk later I found myself at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
Interestingly, or perhaps not, I had visited this museum once before, on the same trip over a decade previous when I went to Bunker Hill. I remember Bunker Hill more than the Gardner Museum, so I was really glad to have the opportunity to go and spend several hours there by myself so I could take in the art at my own pace (which was kind of slow). If you have not been it is not arranged like a typical museum, it is its own special singular creation and well worth the visit and $4 for the audio guide.
On to dinner then the show where the first opening band was Peelander-Z, from Japan, and it is difficult to describe their music as they are more of a theater piece than they are a band. Oh, sure, they have songs, as well as several albums released, but the band’s live show includes human bowling, audience limbo, and it is sort of difficult to describe succinctly when they aren’t the focus of what I want to talk about.
Australia’s The Porkers were next, and the sure put on a heck of a set. This is a band that apparently has been around for 20 years and I have never heard of them. Then again, they haven’t toured the United States for a while. This is a ska band that is a bit more, I don’t know, but if you like the ska music you should check them out. A high energy set that pleased the crowd – they wound up being Stephen’s favorite of the opening bands.
After Wreckless Eric, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones came out for the second night and this was perhaps the best of the three nights. Dicky’s voice had warmed up, the set list was stronger and the crowd was more energized.
And I was fortunate to get up close to the stage each night. How close?
Pretty darn close.
Day three opened up late again as I was able to sleep in. I should mention the note I found in my bag – I put in on the night stand and it was the first thing I saw when I awoke each time while on my trip.
After packing up Stephen and I headed out, got some breakfast (though it was already lunchtime) and then headed to the Harvard Art Museums.
Essentially the Harvard Art Museums is actually multiple museums housed in one building with private and Harvard owned collections housed in one newly renovated building. It is a fantastic place to visit with a wide variety of art and artifacts through the ages.
After dinner we checked our bags (for a fee) at a hotel near the venue then headed in for the third and final night.
Opening this night was Mexico’s Los Kung-Fu Monkeys, a high energy act where the frontman never stopped moving. A bit more rock with horns than ska, there were some definite influences of the second wave in their set. Not a bad band at all, but perhaps my least favorite of the opening acts (and I liked all of the opening acts).
The Skints from England were next, and I realized that I had indeed heard of them, and probably heard a song or two over the years. This band is more reggae for the new millennium than anything else. A young band that may not have a lot of mainstream radio appeal but there certainly is a fanbase there for a long career and I look forward to seeing where they go.
After Wreckless Eric came out for the third night the Mighty Mighty Bosstones came out to close the Hometown Throwdown 19.
To say it was an event would be an understatement. There were guests trotted out, a longer set list and the band seemed to be truly enjoying themselves.
This is one of my favorite pictures from the three nights.
After the show we picked up our bags, headed to the airport and waited to check in and board the plane. It was a longer wait than anticipated, but we made it home safely. Flight out Tuesday night, three nights of rocking and back home Saturday morning. A successful trip. Thank you to the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, the opening bands, and most of all to Laura who let me go.