The experience of going to a sold out show isn't one that I've had too often in the indie rock world. It's usually me and a handful of other dudes, quietly sipping $14 Jack & Cokes in the back of some 300 person venue while the guy on stage twiddles with knobs and shoves contact mics in his ears. It's a valuable experience, but it's nevertheless underwhelming on some level. On Saturday night, Lilly's Pad was packed. Actually, it was beyond packed. It was so thoroughly filled with enthusiastic fans that any small motion in the sea of bodies created a ripple effect that produced a de facto mosh pit in the center of the room. Despite the venue's strict policies against crowd surfing, a couple dudes (and one brave young lady) couldn't help but catch some waves. And all this within the first minute of the opening band.
The Ampeater Review, but Bomb The Music Industry! was a complete (and completely thrilling) surprise. I don't spend much time on the punk/ska scene, so my basis for comparisons is severely limited. That said, I like what these guys do and I like how they do it. Setting aside the band's overt message of "fuck the man, man" for just a second, it's immediately apparent how much these guys enjoy themselves, and it rubs off on their fans. It took them a good fifteen minutes of futzing on stage to get going with a downbeat, during which time I would normally have solidified my opinion of the band ("Who are these wankers?") and zoned out to daydreams of Titus Andronicus, but for some reason I couldn't take my eyes or ears off these goofy-ass dudes. Between snippits of Franz Ferdinand and Stevie Wonder, they playfully argued about football chants, and reminded one another with rolled eyes, "Guys, be professional". When they did finally start playing, the crowd immediately began to sing along, and the band's infectious energy created a closed circuit with the audience that pretty much electrified the entire room. Members of the band flung themselves at random into the crowd, taking mics and mic stands with them, while hoards of teenagers pushed together for the chance to shout a string of lyrics over the PA. Remarkably, every band on the bill brought a horn section, which is a damn powerful tool in the right hands. BTMI! killed it with their full band setup of two trombones, two guitars, bass, and drums. The bone lines were solid and unclichéd while remaining true to form. Their sound constantly wavers between punk and ska, and the trick is in the balance. Rhythmic horn lines tag team with half-spoken half-screaming vocals to lend each song a consistent but unpredictable structure.
View the full set of photos at Mandee P. Photography
Shitty cell phone pics by Manic Mark