4/3/15 – O’Brien’s

Glittering, platinum banners reading “Rock ’n’ roll” sagged toward the back corner of the stage at O’Brien’s Pub. Soggy concertgoers wiped their brows, retreating outside to escape the humid barroom. Forget about coat check—prepare for Boston’s sweaty spring show season. What better way to bid farewell to the snow banks than a high-powered pop-punk set from locals Rebuilder? Local punk favorites Choke Up revved up the sold out crowd with raucous scream-a-longs and manic energy.

Lead singer and guitarist Sal Medrano was the only member of the band to make a wardrobe change before starting the show. O’Brien’s in Allston does not have a dressing room, so crouching next to the assorted merch tables would have to do.

He reemerged, sporting an American flag button-up, fit for an old-time country music star. Medrano abstained from his vest plastered in pins and patches in favor of a more patriotic, celebratory outfit. His band Rebuilder was celebrating a hometown record release for their first official full length. The drooping silver banners lining the stage and Medrano’s shirt hinted at the album’s title: Rock & Roll in America.

Medrano started off in the Boston punk scene nearly 10 years ago, manning the microphone for his first band, Dead Ellington, who focused on a gritty, aggressive, East coast sound. But the more melodic Rebuilder allowed him to reestablish his musical slate in 2013. While Rock & Roll in America won’t be available until mid-May on Panic State Records, the band gave an exclusive preview, ripping through the entirety of the new record.

They opened their set with new single “The National Bohemian,” demonstrating how well Rebuilder has continued to hone their craft. Borrowing sunny melodies from 90’s alternative and modern pop-punk, the band powered through plenty of infectious hooks and roaring, organ-packed chord progressions. The soaring counterpoint between Medrano’s sweeter lead vocals and rhythm guitarist Craig Stanton’s coarse backups filled in the gaps. The tradeoff between the two singing “Keep it together / Don’t fall apart” served as an infectious earworm for a crowd of raised fists. The intense singing seemed to take a toll on Stanton, since his voice cracked and faltered for the last few songs.

The new LP heavily features Rick Smith’s booming piano and organ lines. He energetically slammed on the keys during the set, dancing and head banging along. Despite being tucked away on stage left, Smith gave the band the boost it needed with his high-octane display. His parts cut loudly through the mix and blended expertly with the guitars and bass. Past Boston punk bands, like Far From Finished and Have Nots, have worked wonders by incorporating the organ into their acts. Rebuilder has undoubtedly followed in their footsteps.

Drummer Brandon Phillips kept up a breakneck pace throughout the night, incorporating a tight skate-punk gallop, reminiscent of 90’s West coast classics like Lagwagon or the Descendents. With Phillips ripping relentlessly at the snare, the organ, strings, and vocals came together to make catchy melodic punk that could give Blink 182 a run for their money.

This tightly knit punk outfit, even though hailing from the Northeast, pushes for a refreshing sound that differs from the boisterous Boston punk rock ’n’ roll sound. While the material might not offer anything completely earth shattering or unexpected, it encapsulates a band whose sound isn’t bound to any region in this country. Medrano, who manages the band along with his own record label, brings charisma through his lyrics and his leadership onstage. With a relatable ringleader and a host of well-crafted punk tunes in tow, Rebuilder will surely keep making waves not just in local bars, but all across America.

Rockin' Record Release: Rebuilder
  • Trade offs in the vocals led to infectious pop-punk sing-a-longs
  • The set was very tight, especially thanks to dynamic drum and organ parts
  • They closed the show with a punky "Shake It Off" cover
  • Nothing too groundbreaking for the genre
  • A few hiccups here and there; vocals lost power as show went on
  • Crowd interaction and energy started well but diminished
7.5Overall Score

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