This year, the WBCN Rock ’n’ Roll Rumble, which moved from the Paradise to the Middle East back in the ’90s, waited until the final to move from the upstairs where the preliminaries were held to the larger downstairs room. And all three of the bands chosen to compete last Friday night — the two semifinalists plus a “wild-card” — seemed liberated by the possibilities of the scaled-up stage, the larger sound-system, and a good-naturedly rowdy capacity crowd. None more so than wild-card picks the Campaign for Real Time (C4RT), a bold six-member, multi-racial explosion of fusionaries who exploded when they hit that stage with their mix of hip-pop dynamics, multi-vocalist MC rapping, hard-rock guitarisms, and pounding drums of the real and programmed sort. Yeah, C4RT are flirting with a dated formula. But they bring a quirky freshness and enthusiasm to what they themselves have referred to as a Timbaland-meets-Talking-Heads sensibility, momentarily erasing bad memories of Limp Bizkit in favor of the recent triumphs of Black Eyed Peas. Given C4RT’s obvious marketability, the competition was more or less over before it began. Yes, the Rudds, with their lovingly retro take on ’70s rock, genuine guitar heroics, bagful of Cheap Trick hooks, and wonderfully wicked frontman (John Powhida), delivered their familiar goods in fine style. And scruffy Scamper were there to represent all the indie-rockers in the crowd, with their melodic guitar buzz, earnest vocals, and artlessly charming presence. But on this night, it came down to comparing apples and oranges to an iPod: the Rudds and Scamper don’t need to win popularity contests like this, whereas C4RT are built to please the kind of aspiring talent scouts who’d been chosen as judges. So as we all stood dutifully through a set of very Foo Fighterish alt-rock from Foo drummer Taylor Hawkins, who opted to sit behind his kit stage center as his Coattail Riders stood around him, the outcome hardly seemed to matter. There was some booing amid the applause when C4RT were crowned by 2005 Rumble also-ran Robby Roadsteamer. But mostly people just seemed worn out and ready to head home, where we’d all live to fight another day.
: Live Reviews
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