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The Mighty Mighty Bosstones: Philadelphia, PA (10/24/1996)


Trocadero – Philadelphia, PA
October 24, 1996

T ake one part reggae/ska in the vein of The Specials and add an equal part hardcore (insert the name of your favorite D.C. hardcore band of choice as
an example here) and you now know the sounds and vibe that beset the Trocadero on October 24th when The Mighty Mighty Bosstones crammed their
eight-man crew onto the stage.

The two covers that the Boston band played displayed the influences from where the Bosstones have meshed two styles into their own unique trademark
version of ska. The band showed their reggae roots while speeding up the tempo of Bob Marley’s “Simmer Down” with trombonist Dennis
Brockenborough’s backing vocals adding an almost soulful element to vocalist Dicky Barrett’s harsh growl, which seems to be a vocal quality that can best
be described as falling somewhere between a number of Epitaph punk bands and Pantera. The other cover, a show-closing, frighteningly accurate translation
of Minor Threat’s “Think Again,” demonstrated that this band can rock without any brass embellishments.

This meshing of hardcore power with reggae swing is exactly what the Bosstones delivered their whole set. The Bosstone selections with songs beginning
harmless enough in fast-paced reggae would then erupt into an out-leashing of power chords from guitarist Kevin Stevenson (who was replacing usual
member Nate Albert because of “personal problems”) and Barrett’s intense shouted lyrics. The crowd was left perplexed, at one moment feeling the urge to
dance and then the next, to mosh; luckily, due to the “sardine” nature of people packed on the floor, moshing was hardly an option.

The Bosstones, along with Barrett, Brockenborough, and Stevenson, featured a Joe rhythm section (Gittleman on bass and Sirois on drums) and the rest of
the brass section was filled out with saxophonists Tim Burton and Kevin Lenear. Lest we forget Ben Carr whose title of “bosstone” allows him the privilege
to be considered a full-fledged member simply by “skanking” (flailing arms while hunched over kicking legs out from side to side in epileptic bursts of
energy) and occasionally adding background vocals.

Barrett announced early in the show that “we’re going to do all the songs that [temporary replacement guitarist] Kevin knows;” considering the length of
their performance (about an hour and ten minutes) that did not include too many numbers. Judging from the extreme energy existent in the audience, this
might not have been such a bad thing. Throughout the duration of the show, the number of persons on the stage usually exceeded the starting eight. Barrett
encouraged the audience’s antics through his interactions with them: pulling people on stage (and then sometimes throwing them back out in a coerced stage

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The Mighty Mighty Bosstones: Philadelphia, PA (10/24/1996)

dive), dancing with audience members, and at one point diving into the masses himself.

The highlight of the evening came when the band performed the threesome of tunes including “Someday I Suppose,” “Dogs and Chaplains,” and “Where’d
You Go?” All of these songs progress with a catchy trombone-driven reggae melody only to be outdone when the chorus was reached and an eruption of
metal ferocity was unleashed complete with sustained power chords and hoarse, shouted vocals. Unfortunately, Barrett’s vocals faded out during these times
when they should have been out in front. That did not stop the crowd from shaking the entire building in dancing and jumping excitement during this trio
onslaught. Barrett even found it necessary to remove his tie and perform a bit of a striptease, which was quite fitting in this former burlesque establishment.

During the course of the evening, the Bosstones featured four new songs that happily proved that the band is going to stick with their reggae/hardcore fusion.
Barrett claims that the new 12-song record (the follow-up to 1994’s Question The Answers) will be out sometime in February ’97.

After the ensemble’s short set, one-song encore, and omission of the immensely popular “Pictures To Prove It,” the fans were only allowed to chant
“MIGHT-Y MIGHT-Y BOSS-TONES!” twice before the house lights went up signaling their forced exit. Nonetheless, the band still created an element of
“fun” that is lacking from so much of today’s music.

Although the Bosstones come all decked out in suits and ties and shiny white loafers, the sound emitted from this eight-piece is nothing short of fierce
intensity. Barrett dislikes being referred to as a rock band – Sorry, Dicky, but you guys rock with way more aggression than most bands who label themselves
“rock bands.”

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones themselves must have been the inspiration for penning the following line from “Hell of a Hat:” “Sharpest motherf***er in the
joint/The other motherf***ers stop and point.” How true it was on this particular evening!

Published Articles GO!

Written for the November 1996 issue of Big Shout magazine.

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