Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Happy eight point five months pregnant, let's get our ska on!

Posted by Alison Soracchi at 6:45 AM
What are we up to on a random Tuesday night, you ask? Oh, ya know, taking in a ska show. My amazing husband knows how I like to spend my free time... And his. Thank you, Jon-Michael. Hope you're okay with your son being a ska kid - right now he has no choice.

This is how we celebrate 8.5 months pregnant in our family.

Last week, at our 37 week check up with our midwife, Libby, we gained her blessing to attend a ska show in Orlando. We had done our homework though and presented a very well-thought-out case. We knew where the closest hospital was, we had my hospital bag packed and in tow, we had already agreed I would not be floor-level or engaged with the crowd, and I would do absolutely no jumping. That last commitment was the hardest, to be perfectly honest. How do I not jump to songs that practically beg it of you?!

So after work on Tuesday, JM and I headed down to House of Blues. After walking around the venue for just a couple of minutes, we were able to find a piece of vacant wall next to the sound booth and in direct, unblocked view of the stage. Seemed perfectly safe for me.
Jon-Michael and I - post Authority Zero, pre-Less Than Jake.
We got there just about 15 minutes before Authority Zero started. They started right on time - thank you, HOB. We are old, after all. We get tired easily and we do have to return to our regular lives tomorrow! I really must admit - Authority Zero was a not a band I was really excited to see. Everyone knows that song One More Minute, but what else to they really have? Well, a lot actually. They were incredibly entertaining and quite talented. Their lead singer, who was touted to me as being dreamy, was an absolute entertainer behind the microphone too. He can sing fast and clear - a feat many performers cannot accomplish. To jump to the end, I did get to meet Mr. Dreamboat and he was very humble. And also, he appeared to be about seven feet tall. It's not often I'm looking up at someone when I shake their hand.
All the balloons!
 Without any delay, Less Than Jake began their set. Again, thank you, HOB. We oldies like to stick to a schedule. Less Than Jake never disappoints - that goes without saying. But tonight seemed to be especially entertaining! They had the usually confetti cannons, the toilet paper blowers, and the t-shirt tosser. But they also had these big yellow balloons which appeared to have the same print on them as their banner hanging in the back. Sometime mid-set they tossed them out into the crowd. It's always fun to see people enjoying the interactive parts of an LTJ concert. It's something a bit more than what a typical show offers and truly gives an already friendly crowd - the type that wrap perfect strangers up in (albeit sweaty) hugs because they sudden realize they're both so, so, sooooo excited to hear this particular song! - a feeling of even more camaraderie. It makes me happy, even when I can't partake. It's truly something other live performers lack and I am so thankful to have the opportunity to be part of that massive group euphoria this particular band ignites in their audience.
Here the crowd surfs the security guards to opposite sides of the stage.
 More than musicians though, these guys are entertainers. They crack jokes, tell stories, bust on each other, and involve the crowd in their antics during their sets. This time they invited a guy up who was wearing tacky tourist, beach-themed clothes and an odd, green hat with a feather in it. His name was Evan and they brought him up on stage to dance and get the crowd going. The crowd was already going, but this guy deserved to be part of their shtick after donning that outfit and venturing into the world - unafraid.

You know, even with the laundry list of funny antics they pulled last night, hands down the best one was the ordeal about the security guards. In House of Blues, Orlando, there is a dropped floor area. On either side of that area, there is a column with a small platform that a security guard can stand on to overlook the crowd. In between songs, Chris stopped to address the two guards and their lack of enforcement thus far. He said, "I'm from here, I know these two guys don't really do anything." And, instead of the usual ball-busting of his band mates, he started busting on the two young security guards. He then said, "let's see if we can do something Seattle could not. I want to see you crowd-surf this guy to that side and that guy to this side," pointing from the guy on the left to the right side and then from the guy on the right to the left side. "Do it, Orlando - if anyone can, it's you guys!" And, sure enough, with good sports as security guards, the crowd accomplished just that. The guards extended their arms and lay bellies first onto the crowd at the start of the song, then floated, in Superman pose all the way across the crowd, passing each other almost exactly midway before being safely delivered to their final destinations. WHAT A RIOT! I imagine that had to be a first!

Their set was a fantastic blend of old and fairly new. Although we noticed they didn't play anything from GNV FLA or In with the Out Crowd. I'm okay with that, for sure. I'm more of a Pezcore to Anthem fan anyway. I like the stuff that has come after that, but the albums in that range are my bread and butter, if you will.

I always love seeing the people who know the new songs and not the old and who know the old and not the new though - it amazes me how Less Than Jake continues to acquire new fans after twenty years of writing music and performing. They are true masters of their craft and I don't say that with much bias.
According to Reel Big Fish, Everything Sucks. But the show most certainly did not!
Speaking of masters of their craft, Reel Big Fish dominated the stage. When it comes to performers, RBF truly ranks among the best. Jon-Michael and I were discussing how, sometimes, ska and punk get tagged as easy music to play because the riffs are simple and the sounds can be repetitive. This is where RBF pulls away from the pack though. Aaron is a truly talented guitarist - and what's more? He entertains while he plays. His talent does not take away from what has come to be expected from a ska band - the dancing and the silliness. His playing adds to it. As a viewer, you end up mesmerized by the way he effortlessly plays while skanking from one end of the stage to the other at the same time! And he's not alone. The horn section does the same - they dance and play and dance some more with just as much enthusiasm as their founding member, Aaron. 

Seems like life is good for RBF - they've been performing a long time as well and don't seem to have lost any luster. The songs I remember hearing as a teenager (thank you to my brother, Jeff, for the music exposure) are just as thrilling, fun, and favored as they were then. I have to stop and remind myself that 15+ years have passed for me and for the musicians also. We're all aging. And then shock comes over me - when will it be the last time I see them live?

What a scary thought. I'm not ready for that. 

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