Alright, let’s get this out of the way right out of the gate.
The Boston punk scene had been been abuzz for four months or so with talk of a series of pending Darkbuster reunion shows. The Boston-area dates marked the band’s first shows in six years, and sold out well in advance as you might imagine. But the actual lineup of the band remained shrouded in a bit of mystery. At least publicly, relations between various band members have been tenuous at best, prompting many to wonder who, exactly, would be involved.
When all was said and done, the shows weren’t much of a “reunion” at all. Instead, co-frontman and principal songwriter Lenny Lashley had put together an entirely new roster, featuring his fellow Street Dog Pete Sosa on drums, Halston Luna (FM359) on guitar and Ruben Lipkind (Chosen Ones) on bass, and the ubiquitous Rick Smith on keys, with a horn section that featured Tom Quartulli, Eric Bridson and the one-and-only Kevin Lenear of Mighty Mighty Bosstones fame. Though the lineup hails from varied points across these United States and had a scant few days to rehearse not only the classic Darkbuster tracks but to learn the material from the hot-off-the-presses full-length No Revolution (Pirates Press Records), the result was nothing short of a resounding success, at least in musical terms.
On this particular night, the band’s third hometown show in as many days, Lashley lead the gang in rousing, statement-making fashion by starting off the band’s set with “We Are Darkbuster,” the first track from the band’s last full-length, 2005’s A Weakness For Spirits. The opening chords were still freshly resonating through the rafters at the sold-out Sinclair nightclub and the crowd-surfing and beer-throwing had commenced, signalling that the faces may have changed but the energy and the intensity that Lashley’s gang of five (and sometimes eight) brought remained as high as ever. The set mixed roughly half of the material from No Revolution with traditional crowd-favorites like “Bud” and “Rudy” and “Shoulda Known Better.” Sosa whipped the crowd up between songs, leading roughly a half-dozen singalongs of brief, humorous “Grandma Was A Nazi.”
Another of Lashley’s fellow Street Dogs, the inimitable Mike McColgan, joined the crew for a heartfelt rendition of “Stand And Deliver,” the Darkbuster ode to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces, made even more poignant by the bagpiper that led a flag-wielding Cory King to the stage in full uniform. King has played guitar in Lenny Lashley’s solo project on numerous occasions, and recently completed a year-long tour of duty overseas as a member of the United States Army. Goose-bump inspiring moment. However, this is punk rock, and more specifically, this is Darkbuster, so the goose-bumps were replaced in drunken-singalong fashion as Lashley brought Mark Lind (Ducky Boys, The Warning Shots) out for a rousing rendition of “Cheap Wine,” followed by an acoustic-wielding Lashley closing the set with the staple “Good Times.” Lashley made multiple mentions as to that the Darkbuster “reunion” didn’t quite work out as planned, but seemed generally touched that so many people were still interested in coming out to hear the songs played in all their glory. When the dominoes fall, much more can (and hopefully will) be written about the rise-and-fall-and-rise-again-and-fall-again of one of Boston’s more lovable entries to the annals of punk rock history, and the current chapter will be no less important than others.
Lashley and friends did a great job putting together support bills for each of the three Boston-area shows, and this particular night’s was probably the best of the bunch. Vastly underrated local punks Burning Streets. The five-piece were fresh off the legs of a successful European tour, and played with the sort of in-sync nature and energy that can only come from spending time on the road together. New Jersey’s The Scandals made the trip of from the Garden State for the show. While they may be the only band on the roster that doesn’t hail from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, frontman Jared Hart made repeat mention as to how the energy of the crowd in Boston has always treated the band well, and made it feel like a hometown gig in many ways. This may come across as innocuous stage banter to some, but Hart comes across as sincere in everything he does, and this was no exception.
Boston’s Have Nots played a bit of a reunion show of their own as direct support. While the four-piece never really went on official hiatus, they’ve all been busy with other projects, most notably Jon Cauztik’s Stray Bullets (Dying Scene Records) and Matt Pruitt’s current gig as guitar player for Street Dogs. The crowd were certainly eager for new Have Nots, as the first in what would become a veritable parade of crowd-surfers for the rest of the evening made their way over the barricade early in the set.
Head below for a full photo gallery from the evening and (hopefully) stay tuned for more Darkbuster news!