Things have been a little nuts around here lately, coinciding with a concert drought over the winter. The last show I saw was in November when the Smithereens played in Salem, but I had April Fool's Day circled on my calendar because I managed to procure a ticket to the sold-out Rocket From the Crypt show at Brighton Music Hall.
I saw RFTC at the Middle East downstairs in the fall of '95 on the Scream Dracula Scream tour and then a few years later when they were opening for Foo Fighters at Avalon and at the State Theatre in Portland. The band has been on hiatus for several years while frontman John "Speedo" Reis toured with Hot Snakes and the Night Marchers, but when they announced a short tour, I acted fast. And I'm glad I did.
Opening the show as Ex Hex, Mary Timony's new band now that Wild Flag is no longer a going concern. The all-female trio traffics in '70s glam rock sounds, with a 7-inch out and an album on Merge due out later this year. Ex Hex embraced the rock, with Timony breaking out big riffs and hot solos and bassist Betsy Wright high-kicking all over the place. Just fun, big rock that kicked ass and made me excited for that new record.
RFTC was resplendent in their matching outfits and wasted no time blowing the roof off the club. Reis mixed in some funny stage banter between songs, riffing on the "Beantown" moniker, April Fool's and coyotes and doing some tongue-in-cheek crowd baiting, but primarily the band was all business. Reis and lead guitarist Andy "ND" Stamets laid down some seriously heavy riffage, while the two-man horn section wailed and provided backing vocals and Mario Rubalcaba (who has been playing with OFF! in recent years) thundered on the drums.
The band's 18-song set (give or take a few) was peppered with music from throughout their catalog, but the biggest response was from material from their classic Circa Now and Scream Dracula Scream albums. The mid-set trio of "Middle," "Born in '69" and "On a Rope," which lead off SDS, was mind-blowingly awesome. So furious was the set that a decent mosh pit was raging just to my right; don't see those much anymore. For the encore, Reis went into an extended intro about how the band was going to play a new song that was going to be available as a free download...and then RFTC launched into "'Glazed" from Circa Now. It was perfect.