Back at the start of the 21st century, Boy Hits Car were tipped to become one of rock’s Next Big Things. ‘Boy Hits Who?’ we hear you say. Well, quite. Take it from us that the LA band’s self-titled second album, released in 2001, was a great lost classic, mashing up the best bits of Incubus, Soundgarden and Deftones, generating enough hype to score them a main stage spot at the Reading/Leeds festival that year. OK, it never quite panned out for Boy Hits Car. But they did leave us with one truly epic moment.
The hype had long faded by the time they turned up at the K-Rockathon 10 festival in Vernon, New York in July 2005. Frontman Cregg Rondell had a reputation for insane and/or potentially life-threatening antics: climbing speaker stacks, scaling lighting rigs, hoisting crowd members on his shoulders onstage. But he outdid himself that day.
Let’s cut to the action. It’s mid-set, and Rondell has clambered up a 68-foot speaker stack, with the crowd below urging him to jump down to them. You can almost see the plan start to formulate in his mind as, with an understandable quiver of nervousness in his voice he tells everyone to keep their hands together before he sings the last few lines of the song.
“This guy is the fucking man,” says one off-camera onlooker. And then – boom!- our hero jumps off the top of the speakers and plunges down into the sea of hands nearly the equivalent of nearly seven storeys below (spoiler alert: they catch him).
Even with grainy, 17-year-old video footage, it’s astonishing to watch him dive almost 70 feet. Rondell has said that the jump was totally in the moment and that he believed at he was unable to get down any other way, claiming his only options were to “wait for the fire department and a long enough ladder or just charge it.”
Incredibly, he finished the set with the rest of his band mates, saying he felt “happy to be alive.” “I had some pain, but adrenaline numbed it,” he added. I was pretty sore the next day though.”
Boy Hits Car may never have become the superstars many of us tipped them to be, but they are still together to this day, playing live and releasing music, though presumably not leaping from towering speakers stacks.