Last weekend marked the twelfth installment of Boston street punk veterans Street Dogs‘ annual Wreck The Halls festivities. The shows have taken a variety of shapes and sizes over the years, but remain one of the annual occasions where all of the old punks and skins and hardcore kids get together for a few debaucherous nights to celebrate the holidays and the music and the scene (oh, and to raise money and toys for a few good causes). This year, Wreck The Halls took place in a new spot, Sinclair in Cambridge, and spanned three overwhelmingly successful nights. Street Dogs guitarist Lenny Lashley’s other main project, The New Darkbuster, opened the first night (Thursday) alongside Boston hardcore act Taxi Driver, though sadly, we weren’t in the house for that night. We were, however, in the house for nights two and three and somehow lived to tell the tale!
The Abductors got things off to a flying start on night number two (Friday). The Connecticut based outfit have spent most of their eight-year history as a four piece, but they’ve recently added none other than Ritchie Bruiser of the seminal New Hampshire hardcore band The Bruisers on second guitar, beefing up their already beefy, high-powered Oi!-infused street punk sound.
Continuing the throwback New England-centered punk rock theme of the weekend, next up to bat were none other than The Pinkerton Thugs. The four-piece have been on-again and more typically off-again over the years, but have been newly reformed around Paul Russo and recently released their final LP, 2000’s End Of An Era, on vinyl for the first time. The Pinkerton Thugs came of age in the mid-to-late 1990s, the last real formative golden era for the Boston area punk music scene, and yet somehow, according to the spreadsheet I keep from all my show-going years, I don’t think I’d ever seen them before (even though a kid I went to high school with played drums for the Thugs for a while). It took 21 years, but another one off the old time bucket list!
Which brings us to Street Dogs. After an interlude that consisted of a live rendition Bruce Springsteen covering timeless Woody Guthrie classic “This Land Is Your Land” proudly leading the show-goers in a singalong, the band came flying out of the gate with “Savin Hill,” the ode to frontman Mike McColgan’s formative stomping grounds. The Street Dogs lineup has varied a little over the years, but I’ll be damned if the roster we’ve been graced with the last four or five years (McColgan and longtime bassist Johnny Rioux backed by Pete Sosa on drums and Lenny Lashley and Matt Pruitt on guitar) isn’t the tightest and most powerful edition to date. The band obviously earned their stripes as a true blue collar, working-class punk rock band and have the pedigree to back it up, but they are also underrated as a straight-up rock-and-roll band. Sure McColgan spends a fair amount of the set at the barricade, surrounded by fans singing in unison and not only invites but takes part in crowd surfing and making old-fashioned circle pits, but there are also equal shades of Roger Daltrey and Keith Richards and Brad Delp in the way he struts and jives and belts out primal-level screams when necessary.
The setlist on this particular night was probably the deepest I’ve seen them play in this lineup, ranging from a fairly obscure early demo (“Locked and Loaded” which, I must point out, was predicted by my good friend Nick Gold in a pre-show chat) to a brand-new song, “Stand For Something.” The latter is slated to appear on the band’s forthcoming full-length, which is slated for release probably early in the springtime via Century Media, and is destined to be an instant classic, as evidenced by the volume of the people that had heard the song the previous night and were chanting the song’s singalong chorus in unison already. CJ Ramone hopped on stage to assume lead vocal duties for a rousing rendition of the Ramones’ classic “53rd & 3rd,” during the encore, and half the crowd (including the same luchador-masked crowd surfer I mentioned in the Bouncing Souls show review a couple weeks ago) hopped on stage for the set-closing “Borstal Breakout,” originally penned by Sham 69 and adapted for the Boston scene by the Street Dogs themselves years ago.
Head below to see our photo gallery, and stay tuned for our shots from the Wreck The Halls finale, featuring Michael Kane and the Morning Afters and A Wilhelm Scream! Oh…and we’ll also have more to say about that coming Street Dogs full-length coming down the ‘pike very soon!