Ten years ago I found myself in the mosh pit of a band I barely knew at a Reel Big Fish concert at San Francisco’s historic Fillmore Auditorium (and that is not the most embarrassing part of this article).
That band was the RX Bandits, and they had just released their hard-hitting, socially and politically fueled album The Resignation. With the little I knew about the group, I could tell by their passion and political message that they would have a great affect on 19-year-old me.
Ten years and a hiatus later (as I mentioned in a previous blog), the RX Bandits celebrated what is in my opinion their best album with a national tour featuring opener Northern Faces. Last week I had the pleasure of seeing the tour’s final show at the Glasshouse in Pomona.
Northern Faces opened the show with their etherial and dramatic style of epic indie rock. Three-part harmonies soared over creamy waves of guitar while the rhythm section complemented with unique rhythms that rounded out their sound. They finished their set with an absolutely huge, anthemic, and dreamy rock ballad ending with a mind-blowing 3-minute guitar solo.
I had the opportunity to meet their lead guitarist Marco after the show and tell him how much I liked it. We talked about how their style didn’t exactly mesh with that of the RX Bandits, but the purity of their sound and quality of their music linked the two together. He told me that they were planning to return to the road in a few months, so look for Northern Faces to be back in LA soon. They put on a great show.
Electricity was in the air when the RX Bandits took the stage. The crowd was filled with 20- and 30-somethings that not only knew they were in for a good show but couldn’t wait to take part in it. From the opening notes of “Sell You Beautiful,” screaming and rhythmic clapping ensued. The raucous crowd paused long enough to holler the acapella defining line of the RX Bandits’ social commentary along with the band: “It’s not the way you feel / it’s only how you look!”
The RX Bandits continued on to play The Resignation in its entirety, extending parts into jams and solos as they do live. They brought out a saxophone and trombone player to fill in the parts of former members, and on one jam the sax player gave a brilliant Charlie Parker-style solo, fluttering through scales as the band kept a low dynamic. Over the course of about an hour they blazed through the album, the only time I have heard it performed completely.
After “Decrescendo,” the final song on The Resignation, the RX Bandits took a brief break from the Glasshouse’s stage, leaving the audience in awe and with a moment to take in the experience. After returning to the crowd’s roar, they continued with another half hour of material.
They played songs from their experimental and epic album …And The Battle Begun as well as their breakthrough effort Progress. They ended with one of their poppier tunes, “Only For The Night,” which has a pulsating, rhythmic section in the middle that they take plenty of time to develop and jam out. This time they incorporated a cover of Sublime’s “5446 That’s My Number” into the middle of the song.
When the night was over, I realized that like my 19-year-old self (here is the most embarrassing part), I spent nearly the entire night fighting it out in a mosh pit of overenthusiastic believers. But it meant more than your standard metal-swing-your-arms punch-you-in-the-face kind of pit. It was friendly. The people were shouting lyrics that praised peace, love, independence, and value of self.
For a brief moment I asked myself if at 29 I was too old to be running around a mosh pit screaming lyrics. But I stopped myself and realized that what the RX Bandits’ music stands for is deep and meaningful. It stood as socially and politically aware and critical 10 years ago and is just as important today. It makes me wish that more bands had the guts to say something the way that they did and do.
If you weren’t at this show, I can’t lie, you missed out. And unfortunately the RX Bandits aren’t at a point in their careers where they are constantly touring. But every time they say they are done, they come back, so don’t miss your next opportunity to see them live. Either way, though, check out their music. It could have a lasting impression on you. It did on me.
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