If there's something familiar about the two bands that won Boston's annual Rock 'n' Roll Rumble semifinals, it's because both Garvy J. and Secret Pockets of Hope and Resistance and Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck are fronted by old hands. Still, being experienced doesn't mean the Rumble was easy.
"I wouldn't say it was a breeze," says former Elevator Drops singer-guitarist Josh Hager, the auteur of Garvy J.'s emotive atmospheric pop. "Being in a competition situation does make you refine the details that would normally be overlooked."
But, Hagar says, it's worth it: "We have received more press and attention in one week than we have in the last few years. Plus, we had the opportunity to meet and play with some of the best bands in Boston."
Bow Thayer played the Rumble in the 1990s with his power trio Still Home before forming bluegrass rockers The Benders, and now Perfect Trainwreck.
"We are all older and could give a rat's ass about winning anything," Thayer says. "Funny thing, way back, Josh's band The Elevator Drops asked me to sit in with them at a show at Mama Kin. Here we are, like 17 years later, with many gigs and miles under our feet and fingers, and another Rock 'n' Roll Rumble."
Pop, Americana and hard rock
Motherboar, the semifinal's wild card, rounds out the finals competing lineup. The Rumble's traditional wild card gives one losing band from each leg a second chance. This year's guest band is The Grownup Noise, who bowed out of their preliminary night due to unforeseen circumstances.
"They make history as the only band to not perform their preliminary night and go to the finals. They, of course, will not compete," says organizer Anngelle Wood, host of WZLX's local rock show Boston Emissions. "The finals really rounds up what the Rumble was about this year: Representing the many faces of the Boston music community."
If you go
2012 Rock 'n' Roll Rumble
with Motherboar, Garvy J. and Secret Pockets of Hope and Resistance, Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck, and The Grownup Noise
Friday, 8 p.m.
T.T. the Bear's Place
10 Brookline St., Cambridge
$12, 18+, 617-492-BEAR