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Rick, Aaron and Kendra called themselves The Rats: partly after the long-gone Boston club The Rathskeller, and partly because it sounded really cool. The band had been together for about six months, and they were starting to get some buzz. Their debut at the Middle East Upstairs room in Cambridge was a huge “we’ve arrived” moment. Next stop: the much larger Middle East Downstairs room, and then world domination.
They were killing time before soundcheck in the Corner section, noshing on falafel and nursing bottles of Warsteiner. Rick was playing power chords on an unplugged Les Paul Junior.
“So what was the greatest show you ever saw?” Rick asked.
“I was actually there for that show,” Aaron said, pointing at a picture on the wall. “Hüsker Dü at the Channel, May, 1985, when I was twelve. See, you can see the South Station Post Office in that shot? The Channel was right across the Fort Point Channel from there. They always had amazing Sunday all-ages matinees. That whole show is just a blur of buzzsaw guitar and getting kicked by stage divers, but it was great! What a blast. How about you, Rick?”
“Ramones at the Palladium in New York, 1978,” Rick said. He was at least ten years older than his band mates, and a veteran of the Boston scene, although he grew up in suburban New Jersey. “‘Rocket to Russia’ tour. They were just back from England and blazing. I used to see Television all the time at CBGB’s, also. They were amazing. Most musically together punk band ever.”
Aaron and Rick simultaneously jerked their heads toward Kendra. She blushed a little.
“You’re gonna love this,” she said. “New Kids on the Block!”
Aaron and Rick looked at each other and started howling.
“It was the ‘Magic Summer’ tour at Saratoga, 1990!” Kendra said. ”Sponsored by Coke! My mom took me and my sister. I wanted to marry Jordan!”
All three were in hysterics now.
“But wait, you wanna know the best part?” Kendra asked. “This was the show when Donnie fell through the trap door after he jumped off the riser! I was there for that!”
“Winner!” Aaron and Rick yelled simultaneously at Kendra.
They were three friends in a band, swapping war stories and clicking on all levels. They finished their snacks and beers and headed through the restaurant, through the door of the Upstairs room, and humped their gear onto the stage for soundcheck. The Ramones, Hüskers and yes, even the New Kids, had paved the way for The Rats. Now it was their turn.