Hard in the ’Head to deliver dose of punk rock energy

Marblehead is celebrated for its proud maritime and American Revolutionary history, yachting and beautiful beaches. Impresario and musician Matt Nicholas plans to add “punk rock hub” to the list.

The pop punk band Duck and Cover is one of four band slated to play at Hard in the ’Head on Saturday, March 18 at the Gerry No. 5 VFA.

The Marblehead resident is putting together a concert called Hard in the ’Head on Saturday, March 18 at Gerry No. 5 VFA, which will showcase original punk rock bands from Boston’s storied early ’90s noise rock scene, where Lucas’ longtime band, Black Helicopter, has its roots.

While there will be no mosh pit at the Gerry, he promises that the four bands on the roster will deliver a dose of “pure energy straight to you.” This will be a night to remember for anyone sentimental about slam dancing at long gone and much missed Boston venues such as Bunratty’s or the Rat while hardcore punk bands Gang Green or the F.U.’s shook the rafters with their signature buzzsaw thrash.  

What’s more, Lucas stresses that all of the bands on the bill share a North Shore connection as well as an “anti-establishment, DIY ethic of self-expression.”

While acknowledging that Hard in the ’Head “is not an easy listening event,” Nicholas assures there a many people in the area who are interested in punk rock.

“There’s a fertile appetite for this kind of music on the North Shore,” he said

As the frontman of Black Helicopter, a band that has been together for two decades, Lucas has an encyclopedic knowledge of Boston’s rich and storied rock music scene.

By his own account, he has been “playing music for over 30 years with various guys” whom he describes as lifelong friends.

When asked what Black Helicopter sounds like, he pauses for a moment and says thoughtfully “a noisy indie rock band with a lot of distortion and good pop hooks.”

Of the other two bands on the bill, he characterizes Duck and Cover as a “pop punk band” and Cuidado as “panic rock.”

“Imagine a crazy hardcore band with saxophones,” he said.

The jewel in the punk rock crown, however, is having the hardcore legends the F.U.’s headlining the show.

While Lucas has booked his band in conventional clubs over the years, putting together a group show like this is something new.

“Yes, I would totally like to do it again,” he said.

At the moment, he is getting the word out in the town’s roughly 4.4 square miles through a combination of social media and good old-fashioned “guerrilla marketing” — posters, stickers and handbills.

The genesis for Hard in the ’Head came from a “parking lot” show in Rhode Island that Lucas’ band Helicopter did with the F.U.’s.

“I was talking with one of the guys in the band, and he told me that he lives in Salem, and I told him I live in Marblehead,” Lucas said. “I said, ‘What if we did a show at the Gerry 5?’ I’m a member there, so I went to the manager, Art, and asked. He said, ‘Sure.’”

Once he had secured a venue, he began reaching out to bands that he knew were based on the North Shore and was overjoyed that all of them said, “Hell yes!”

Lucas hopes that Hard in the ’Head will attract a new generation to punk rock and hardcore and spark a revival to the live music scene.

But at the end of the day, he said, “I just want to play a show in my hometown that highlights the lineage and history of it all.”

As any musician can attest, the live music scene took a painful hit during the pandemic. Club after club shuttered, leaving bands with very few venues to play once things began opening up again.

“During the pandemic, we all masked up and went back to our practice spaces,” Lucas recalls of those two difficult years. “We could do everything but play live. And there are not many places to play in Marblehead to hear an original rock band.”

With its DIY spirit, Hard in the ’Head promises to flip the script. 1-2-3-4!

Hard in the ’Head is scheduled for Saturday, March 18 at Gerry No. 5 V.F.A., 210 Beacon St., Marblehead. Doors will open at 6 p.m., and the music starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10. See

eventbrite.com/e/hard-in-the-head-tickets-485050106927. This is an 18+ show.

Linda Werbner
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