The nation’s oldest battle of the bands competition, the Rock & Roll Rumble, held its finals at the ONCE Ballroom in Somerville last night, where Boston metal band, Worshipper*, became the 2016 reigning champions. The self-described “darkly epic rock band that can only be found in the vinyl collection of your ‘cool uncle'” joins past Rock & Roll Rumble champs Darkbuster, The Dresden Dolls, and Zip-Tie Handcuffs in the winner’s circle.
The WZLX (formerly the WBCN) Rumble is hosted and organized by Anngelle Wood of the radio program, Boston Emissions. Each year, Anngelle selects 24 established bands to compete for cash prizes, studio time, legal services, and most importantly, bragging rights. LIKEYOUSAID recently had the chance to speak to the popular local radio host about the evolution of the Rock & Roll Rumble and her perspective on the changing landscape of the 2016 Boston music scene. Read the interview with Boston Emissions’ Anngelle Wood below.
What was the music scene like when you were growing up? Do you have a lot of memories of going to Rock & Roll Rumble?
Anngelle: I grew up in Massachusetts and moved to New Hampshire. I was very aware of WBCN and what a beacon it was for rock & roll – local and otherwise. WBCN is why I got into radio. I started to go the Rumbles in college, around 1997/98. It was an EVENT. Bands really wanted to be there, to add their name to its history.
How about the future of the scene…Do you think there will be more new venues like ONCE Ballroom in Somerville emerging?
Anngelle: ONCE Ballroom is a special place. I don’t think there is anything like it. It is driven by JJ Gonson (proprietor and owner/chef of Cuisine en Locale) and she really sets the tone. She gives the venue heart. I’d like to see other spaces like that.
What do you think the Boston music scene needs more of right now? I mean so many Boston venues like Johnny D’s, T.T. The Bear’s, and the Beachcomber, they all closed in the last year.
Anngelle: It is difficult to see venues leave the landscape of the city. Bands feel like they’re being punished for something. And these places meant something to people. Johnny D’s is a perfect example of the impact of losing a beloved landmark. They had a massive funeral with people gathered in masses in Davis Square. That’s quite beautiful.
Popular Boston music club Johnny D’s closed in early 2016 after 47 years in business.
How did you first get involved in radio and what inspired you to take on the Rumble?
Anngelle: I went to college specifically to get involved in Broadcasting. I was fascinated with radio, a real dork about it. I got lucky and interned at WFNX, got hired shortly after and toiled my way through every shitty shift. That lead to doing middays and mornings. I went to work for WZLX and the opportunity to join WBCN presented itself (each are CBS Radio-owned). I jumped at the chance to host Boston Emissions and with that I inherited the Rock & Roll Rumble.
Some notable acts have played the Rumble through the years — Piebald, Face To Face, Letters To Cleo, and The Dresden Dolls to name a few. Which Boston band do you think could be the next big thing?
Anngelle: The original Face To Face are incredible. Too bad that SoCal band took their name. Many of the greatest bands to come out of Boston were in the Rumble over its now-37 years, a lot of which didn’t make it past their preliminaries night. Look at this year’s crop alone with the likes of Abbie Barrett, Weakened Friends, Salem Wolves, Worshipper, Choke Up, Analog Heart…. all poised to conquer beyond the state line. The Rumble provides great momentum and casts a much wider net regionally.
What’s the average age of people attending Rock & Roll Rumble? Has the demographic changed through the years?