Boston Herald

Band warriors

Is age key to winning the Rock & Roll Rumble?

- Rock & Roll Rumble, Sunday through April 21 at Once. Tickets: $10-$18; oncesomerv­

There is a myth that persists about the Rock & Roll Rumble: The band full of old dudes usually wins.

While members of winning bands will (and should) take offense at the “old” label, it is true that acts with members born in the ’60s and ’70s often do well (see Goddamn Draculas, Eddie Japan, Bow Thayer). But just as frequently, the hot new act crushes the establishm­ent — two great examples are Zip-Tie Handcuffs in 2015 and Girls Guns and Glory in 2008. This is part of the fun of the Rumble.

This year, a few names familiar to Rumble scholars will show up on the bills when the festival (the event is more undergroun­d rock fest than battle of the bands) opens at Somerville’s Once Sunday night. The first name is Matt York, who competed with his first band Wide Iris in 2000 — York plays with his band, the Missed Flights, on Tuesday.

“When I did it in 2000, I knew a lot more of the bands, I was in my 20s, we had a big following and really felt like we could win it,” York said. “Darkbuster came long, and I’d never heard of them. They’d been playing a bunch of all-ages shows and DIY punk shows and just crushed it.”

York doesn’t worry about being an older musician (or plan to rely on the luck his age is supposed to bring).

“There are plenty of bands with members in their 40s and 50s who play the Rumble, but many others are in Rumbles gap this go-around. Aaron Perrino won the whole shebang in 1999 while fronting the Sheila Divine. Bucking another myth, that Rumble champs don’t go anywhere, the Sheila Divine landed a record deal, toured the country repeatedly and scored a classic Boston rock anthem in “Hum.”

Perrino returns as the guitarist in the new band No Hope/No Harm, which plays April 7.

“Honestly, I never thought I’d do it again,” he said. “Having won before never felt right for Dear Leader (his follow-up band to Sheila Divine) to play it. I guess because in this band I’m the guitarist, it felt like enough of a difference to play it again.

“It’s in our one-year plan,” he added jokingly. “Form a band. Play first show at O’Brien’s. Win Rumble. Raise $1.7 million on Kickstarte­r. Break up.”

But age doesn’t necessaril­y translate into experience. In her mid-30s, Magen Tracy, who plays Thursday with her band the Missed Connection­s, can’t be categorize­d as a veteran rocker or hotshot up-and-comer. Or maybe the singer - song writer key boardist can be categorize­d as both? She has fronted her band only for a few years, but is about to celebrate her third Rumble — she competed as a member of Parlour Bells in 2012 and backed Nate Leavitt in 2015.

“The broad range of bands in the Rumble is one of its best qualities, and it’s reflective of the Boston music scene as a whole,” Tracy said. “You want the young bands and new trends represente­d, and you also want to include the experience­d players who’ve been shaping Boston music for years.”

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York isn’t the musician with the biggest between-
NO HOPE/ NO HARM their early 20s, (and) I don’t really think that age is particular­ly important,” he said. York isn’t the musician with the biggest between-
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