The Rumble is a kick in the ass for bands. Or it isn’t. The choice is yours. You can show up, play some songs, collect $200, and blow your chance at winning over the town! One of the biggest success stories to come from the 2014 Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble is When Particles Collide – a two-piece band from Bangor, Maine (by way of New Hampshire) who pushed themselves to be their best all while endearing themselves to an eager town who welcomed them with open arms. In the span of one year, I watched them go from that out-of-town duo to 2014 Boston Music Awards New Artist of the Year. This is why I do this.
“We Lost The Rumble But We Won Everything”
Reflections of our participation in the 2014 Rock ‘n Roll Rumble
By Sasha G. Alcott & Chris M. Viner (aka When Particles Collide)
Best Band On The Bill
For several years, early in our career Chris and I would touch foreheads before a gig, look into each other’s eyes and say to one another, “Best Band On The Bill.” We didn’t necessarily expect to give a performance better than anyone, but we figured it was a mantra that would help us to advance our standards and hold ourselves to a higher level of performance. Of course this was just a mental game. All of that changed when we were asked to play the Rumble. We would now be judged on a series of objective criteria about whether or not we truly were the best band on the bill. No more whimsy, no more silent comparisons.
Put Up Or Shut Up
As everyone knows who plays the indie rock circuit either in one’s hometown or making the rounds up and down, back and forth and circling the US, we struggle to be heard. We beg random relatives and old college friends who we were never really close with to come to our gigs. And then all of a sudden, being asked to play the Rumble everything changes. The Rumble means we don’t have to beg. The shows will be sell-outs. We must be the best band on the bill, or be eliminated. We can not make excuses, and we do not have to plead.
And so on the second night of the 2014 Rumble we were not the best band on the bill and in so many words we had to shut up. Sure we had busted our butts and put our foreheads together and we worked and reworked our set. But we lost. So what did we do during our feast of humble pie? We made sure to go to as many of the Rumble events as a high school teacher from one hour north of Cambridge could go to. And we went to plenty. We cheered on our fellow Rumblers, we bought merch from our no-longer-rivals and we took ridiculous photographs. The humble pie wasn’t so bad.
The Wild Card is All Hearts
Then, staying up late on a Sunday night we learned that we had earned an opportunity to continue the competition as a wildcard in the semi-finals. And that humble pie got sweeter not because we were being acknowledged as contenders but because so many people were happy about our wild card status. Other bands, journalists, local music DJs and music fans were excited about our continued participation. We had already won. WPC had somehow won the attention and affection of people who care about independent music.
The Ultimate Loss has even more Heart
And we didn’t win our semi-final round. We watched new friends, bands that we would later play shows with and are still playing shows with, bands who supported us and cheered us on during the subsequent Boston Music Awards, bands who booked us for their record release shows, bands whose members religiously still come to our shows, we watched them be the best bands on the bill. And it was glorious.
Play To Win and Play Just As Hard When Others Win
Because we worked our tails off to be the best we could be and because we also celebrated the achievements of our compatriots we won. We won one of the best opportunities a band in New England could ever have. And because we worked hard and celebrated the winners just as hard we have enjoyed a year long love affair with Boston that we hope will continue for many, many years to come.