For what has become an annual trek for me, the day after Christmas I headed into Boston for the 17th Hometown Throwdown put on by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. I am pretty much guaranteed to go every year at this point, choosing which date solely based on the openers. This year's winner was Fishbone.
Fishbone opened unbelievably strong, with their first song being "Party at Ground Zero." It's always a bold move to open with your most well known song, but since I have a feeling a good chunk of the crowd was unfamiliar with the ska-punk pioneers, it made sense. They tore into "Ugly" next, followed by "Lyin' Ass Bitch." From there, the show seemed to tone down quite a bit. Some youths behind me remarked that Fishbone wasn't bad, but they were ready for them to be done. Since they only played 8 songs total, I hate to admit I agreed. I'm sure a full headlining set would be a better choice instead of an abbreviated opening set. They closed with a cover of Sublime's "Date Rape," which seemed kind of like pandering to the crowd a bit. I know they toured with Sublime a lot in the past, but they should own the fact that they originated this genre of music more.
What is there really left to say about a Bosstones live show? They're one of the few bands I completely understand if someone doesn't like them based on their recorded music alone. But their live show can't be beat. At the Hometown Throwdown, it's almost a family reunion, and the knuckleheads are kept to an absolute minimum. This is a welcome change from when they were considered a frat rock favorite in the 90s. It's now kept to die hards only. The most surprising aspect of one of their shows is how well newer songs like "Nah, Nah, Nah, Nah, Nah" and "Graffiti Worth Reading" fit in with classics like "Dr. D" and "Hell of a Hat."
One of the most fun aspects of the annual Throwdown is the unique stage designs every year. The past few years have seen a fake house backdrop adorned with lights, a replica Citgo sign, etc. This year they brought back the glowing wall of Santas, which was a fan favorite. I would have almost preferred a new backdrop, but a wall of Santas is always pretty rad.
While the Bosstones attract a shocking number of teenagers still (pretty sure it's a ska thing), the majority of the crowd is in their 30s and 40s, so it's pretty impossible to be the creepy old guy here. One of my favorite sights is how many dads bring their elementary aged kids with them, complete with plaid jackets and mohawks. Maybe this upcoming generation isn't completely lost after all...
As a side note, Big D & the Kids Table opened the show. Thanks to the crazy line to get in (plus the fact that I didn't really like the albums I listened to) I only caught maybe 3 songs of their set. Live, they are fantastic, and I wished I caught more of them. Maybe next time they come around. My only complaint of the night was that all 3 bands were of the ska-punk variety, and it might have been nicer to break that up a bit. Last year I caught a Sam Black Church reunion, which broke up the night well. Sunday Andrew W.K. opened, so it was just the night I went.