MxPx, Allister, Measure for Measure Fitzgerald's June 14th, 2014
"Welcome to the punk rock show. It's going to be hot, it's going to be sweaty, we're gonna have a good time."
So spoke MxPx singer/bassist/occasional guitarist Mike Herrera near the start of Saturday night's hot, sweaty punk-rock show at Fitz to a crowd that was healthily committed to having a good time. Concerts can go a lot of ways: sometimes a band plays to a polite but apathetic crowd; sometimes a crowd wants more than a band is willing to give; those are just two examples of endless permutations of how good a crowd can be versus how good a band can be.
The best shows, of course, are the ones where the crowd seems to give endlessly and the band gives it right back. Saturday night was one of those shows, with a crowd high on nostalgia and a band with an arsenal of songs so good they could do no wrong converging on a space that allowed both to go nuts.
It was the kind of show that's good for the soul.
MxPx were three songs deep into their set when a crowd-surfer managed to hit one of the lights out of alignment near the front of the stage. For the rest of the night that light would hang there, now pointing at a spot in the crowd. Sometimes it was highlighting some running in a circle pit, fist held high in the air. Sometimes it caught a couple rocking out together, both singing out loud. Basically, wherever that light hit, someone was having a good time.
This is due in large part to Herrera, who is criminally underrated as a front man. He's a guy who has to walk a tightrope between being true to himself as performer and giving the people what they want, and he walks that tightrope better than most. He gets the nostalgia factor and the fact that everyone has a favorite song they want to hear and that he can't please everyone, but it seems he makes a sincere effort to please as many people as possible, while not playing songs he can't stand anymore; save yourself the trouble and avoid requesting "Do Your Feet Hurt?" because he's not feeling that one anymore.
Herrera is the only actual member of MxPx on the road these days, with Tom and Yuri having retired from the touring life a while back. His backing band brings it though, and it's really nice to see some guys on stage who seem to actually enjoy playing the songs they're playing, rather than just being dudes onstage collecting a paycheck.
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In a way, the show played less like "watch MxPx play your favorite songs" and more like "come relive all the things that made you fall in love with concerts when you were younger." There were singalongs and circle pits; someone got pulled out of the crowd to play bass on "Chick Magnet" and did a hell of a job with it; hell, even opening act Allister got in on the fun, letting the crowd jump up on stage to sing "Somewhere Down On Fullerton" with the band.
This is a great time to be a fan of pop-punk (or skate-punk, I suppose, if you want to get super-specific). The bands that you fell in love with growing up are still young enough to put on a good show without losing a step, and you're probably entering the phase of your life where nostalgia is something you embrace rather than mock.
I say enjoy it while you can. Go to as many small, sweaty punk shows as your legs can carry you. Buy your shirts and wear them on the weekends with pride. Sing as loud as you can, because let's be honest: sometimes the band forgets the words.
And because it feels good, deep inside, to sing the songs you love.
Personal Bias: There's probably no band that has as many individual songs that I love while not having a single album that I'd rank in my top 100 as MxPx.
The Crowd: Exactly what you'd imagine a 2014 MxPx crowd to look like, but with a few more beards.
Overheard In the Crowd: "I've read five books on Andre the Giant." Good on you, sir.
Random Notebook Dump: If you're literally all the way in the back of the venue, don't scream out your request. You fight your way up front if you have a song you really want to hear.
So, How Were the Openers? Despite what the guy next to me thought, I thought Allister were rather enjoyable. They had their fans in the crowd, and I think anyone who has ever heard "Somewhere Down On Fullerton" knows that it's an underappreciated pop-punk gem. As for Measure For Measure, they were pretty solid for a band I couldn't find on Spotify.
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