After an hour of driving around Allston trying to find parking, I finally made it to Brighton Music Hall at 10:55, a mere five minutes before Rival Schools was scheduled to take the stage. The club was fairly packed with a wide cast of characters. Some people were there in their old school Quicksand, Gorilla Biscuits, and Youth of Today gear to pay tribute to Rival Schools’ lead vocalist, Walter Schreifels who was a member of all those bands. Others in the crowd, donned Rival Schools’ shirts featuring the cover art from their 2001 debut album, United by Fate.
It had been nearly 8 years since the band was regularly active yet their fans seemed to have stuck with them. This was evident by the crowd’s reaction to the band. Rival Schools’ new album, Pedals will be released this Tuesday but that did not stop a good amount of the crowd from knowing the words of many of the new songs. The band started their set with the first single from Pedals, “Wring It Out.” The mid-tempo rocker is not the mood-setting opener that I expected from the band but the crowd seemed instantly engaged. Perhaps it was Walter Schreifels’ awkward dancing movements on stage or Evan Dando-doppelganger Cache Tolman on bass but there seemed to be an instant connection.
The band obviously felt the connection too. Schreifels was in rare form with his in-between song banter addressing everything from Charlie Sheen to screamed requests from the crowd for Gorilla Biscuit songs. The band even wandered from their set list several times to include quick attempts at Metallica covers, a ska versions of their own songs, and then combining the two into ska versions of Metallica songs.
However the deviations from the set list was not overly necessary. The list included the majority of United by Fate including “Everything Has Its Point”, “Good Things”, “Travel By Telephone”, “World Invitational”, and “The Switch”. The song that seemed to get the best reaction from the crowd was United by Fate‘s standout ballad “Undercovers On” while the crowd seemed shocked with the band’s choice to mix in album closer “Hooligans For Life” into the set. The group closed their actual set with “Used For Glue”.
The end of set was a little awkward with the band leaving the stage except for Schreifels who stayed on stage speaking to the crowd for about a minute before the rest of the band came back out to join him on the stage. Because Schreifels never left, it did not feel like an encore as much as it felt like the rest of the band needed to take a bathroom break and Schreifels volunteered to hold down the fort. The band played “My Echo” for an encore but Schreifels clearly enjoying the Boston crowd consulted with his band if they could possibly play any other songs. Schreifels introduced “we used to cover this song every time we were in Boston as Quicksand” and then played a cover of The Smiths‘ “How Soon Is Now?” The band stayed on just long enough to give each other high fives before waving to the crowd and exiting the stage.
The band managed to play just a little over an hour, just slightly longer than it took me to find a parking space. Despite that, I left show with no malice in my heart for Allston’s horrid parking situation; the things seeing a band at the height of their ability can do to a man.