The kids are OK!

Boston Rules brings back the good old days of punk
By BARRY THOMPSON  |  March 31, 2009

UP FROM UNDER Far from Finished are one of 23 bands playing the Boston Rules fest at Harpers. 

There has been much debate — public, behind closed doors, and on message boards — as to whether Boston punk does in fact rule. (For those of you under 24: a message board is like Facebook, only really slow.) And should you choose to assert that Boston punk isn't the tits within earshot of any of the proud several who've invested a chunk of themselves in this enduring circuit, he may — even if he agrees — request that you go get fucked with a vacuum cleaner, you revolting hipster douche.

It's like beating up your little brother. You do it all the time, but mostly out of love, and anyone who tries to do the same is begging for a wallopin' . . . or at least an earful. So don't try to convince Ben Bornstein that the Rathskeller, a deceased punk mecca better known as the Rat, wasn't as cool as he remembers it from the '90s. Furthermore, quit giving him shit for booking a handful of non-Bostonians onto his Boston Rules, OK? Fest.

"I've heard a lot of drama about that. The way I look at it, the bands from out of town, like the Casualties, Blanks 77, and the Wretched Ones, had such a big say in our scene back then, they should be a part of this just as much as the others."

An homage to the Rat's Boston Punk Rock Olympics of yore, itself an homage to the original Punk Rock Olympics at CBGB (Bornstein would've called this the Boston Punk Rock Olympics had it not been for a potential copyright infringement), Boston Rules, OK? packs 23 bands into a weekend with two noontime all-ages endeavors and a pair of boozy 21+ nights at Harpers. We have bellwether locals like Far from Finished, Mouth Sewn Shut, and Mark Lind & the Unloved, resurrected legends the Pinkerton Thugs, patchworks of scene vets like Blood Stained Brindle, and a plethora of others.

Formerly a chronic regional punk promoter and bassist for Lost Cause (also playing Boston Rules), Bornstein returned to his native North Reading seven months ago, after several years in California, to start his own special-effects/make-up company. Having booked more than 250 New England shows during his run (the night he lost his booking virginity in North Reading, he paid Mike McColgan $50 after the Dropkicks played), he may have felt he needed to throw a moonstruck shit show of punk to feel truly at home. "Two months after I got back, I was like, 'I'm going to book a huge punk show!' I tried to do an all-star line-up from back when I was a kid going to shows. This was the closest thing to that I could."

Many familiar faces from around the Rat era's campfire remain, and a bunch of them are playing Boston Rules. "When I started hanging out around Harvard Square, there were all kinds of punks running around all over the place," recalls Brian Riley, long-time Bostonian and guitarist for newly revived proto-punkers Side Effects. "Everybody was looking for the next 40-ounce and a place to drink it. I'll never forget spending entire weekends at the Rat, waking up Monday, and not remembering any of it."

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