Sunday, November 23, 2008

look at me, look at me, look at me, i'm a winner

A long time ago, H and my boss discovered they have similar musical tastes and they sort of bonded over it. Ever since, they talk about who's coming to town and my boss gave me the heads up for when Rancid was here (I got H tickets for our anniversary and the boss let us move into his front-row balcony seats).

They both like The Aquabats, so when the boss found out they were coming to Chicago, he went ahead and got tickets for both of us to go. H had been looking forward to it for months, because apparently the band knows how to put on one hell of a show.

Described as a "zany ska unit" from California, I knew this would be right up H's alley. And I was very curious as to what they'd do. I've been pretty stressed from overbooking myself on work projects, so this was a much-needed break.

I haven't been to the Metro since the bouncing bird's nest I encountered with cc at the Lupe Fiasco show two years ago.

When we got inside, I immediately realized I was way overdressed with my sweater and peacoat--everyone there was in comfy T-shirts, jeans and stretchy clothes. Evidently they were prepared for some heavy-duty skanking (dancing, not that other kind). I got a drink.

This girl was in front of us before people really showed up. I was sort of sheepish about taking her photo, which is why I didn't get more of her man's super-pointy hair (you can see part of him in front/left of her in the black; his hair stuck out at least six inches in fat spikes). While we were waiting, I worked out a whole soap opera about them: She is atypical late-teen/early twenties trying to figure out her identity. She kept glomming onto her guy from the back and he seemed indifferent. There was another guy to her right who kept trying to put his arm around her--this one I pegged as the one who liked her before she got all edgy and tatted up, and he could see her for the beauty she had in the inside. There was a THIRD guy (this one very small and nerdy-looking) in green, to her left (maybe her little brother?). She kept bumping him to the music, which he seemed to be enjoying but was too self-conscious to even bop his head. I would have taken this story farther, but then they started jumping around hard-core to The Rikters (Chicago band!) and H suggested we move unless we wanted to be splattered against the wall we were leaning against.

Then Suburban Legends, from California, came out. They had a lot of energy, and I especially liked the way they had choreographed moves between the lead singer, trombonist and trumpeter. Smooth. Apparently somewhere up the line they had played a lot at Disney, so they busted out "Under the Sea." I was shocked that I still knew all the words, even though the last time I sang it was at a sixth-grade chorus concert. They were fun.

When the headliners came out, people went ABSOLUTELY EFFING CRAZY. They were throwing up the non-gang sign that looks a lot like The Aquabats' icon (couldn't get a good shot of it). These guys are all about fun. A few of them are the creators of the children's show, Yo Gabba Gabba!, because they weren't happy with the programs that their kids had to choose from to watch. It's a pretty successful show. I was amazed at how dedicated their fans are, and the wide range of ages they were, too. I notice quite a few people came dressed in their signature teal tight-fitting shirts and goggles, and there were several small kids there, too.

Everyone was really into it, especially when they played "Pizza Day" and "Pool Party*," which were the only two songs I really knew, aside from the title of this post, which is played during the credits of my very favorite indie film of all time.

There was a lot going on stage; small video vignettes, montages of oldschool film clips on the screen, a huge person dressed as a chicken, you know, the usual. But I was entertained. Also, the energy level stayed cranked up to 11 for the entire show. The lead singer, "The MC Bat Commander," had total control of the crowd.

The Commander had so much crowd control, in fact, that toward the end of their performance he announced that there was a small man in the audience, and pointed to a boy sitting on his dad's shoulders whom we had seen jumping up and down to the music earlier. He proceeded to call the kid, Alex, up to the stage, where everyone cheered for him uproariously. The Commander took the kid (who can't be older than six) in his arms and asked him if he'd ever been on a stage before: "Alex has never been on stage before!" Then The Commander asked if he'd ever been to a punk rock show before: "It's his first show!" And then there were a couple more questions before he asked if Alex had ever surfed on an ocean of people before: "Hear that ocean?!?"

And after he mentioned something about another Aquabat giving the dad some paper to sign, he asked Alex if he was ready, doublechecked with the dad, counted to three...and then The Commander HEAVED THAT SIX-YEAR-OLD HIGH INTO THE AIR AND INTO THE CROWD.

I will have that image--the look of pure joy on that kid's face, his arms and legs splayed out and how his orange T-shirt caught the light--burned into my memory forever. The crowd went ballistic, and it "waved" him all the way back to his father.

At first I was outraged. To be honest, I was already mentally chastising all the parents who brought kids and didn't give them headphones or earplugs (like my boss does with his kids). I'm a silent scolder like that. But after seeing that The Aquabats checked with the parent, I've decided that this is probably one of THE coolest things that could ever happen for any six-year-old--he's probably a concertgoer for life, now. Just seeing it gave me the kind of fuzzy, twinkly feeling I get when I watch a little kid open a present she really wanted for Christmas. I think everyone in that place channeled some of that excitement. That alone made it a fantastic show, but the rest was good too.

He's not as open-minded as I am when it comes to music, but I wonder if H would have this much fun accompanying me to a Missy Elliott show.

*If you only click on one link in this post, make it this one. How can you go wrong with Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang?


Becky said...

Yo Gabba Gabba is my nephew's FAVORITE show, and I've seen every episode at least thirty times. May I say here, now, that Ricky Fitness is hah-haht? Because yeah, he's hot. And I think impure thoughts about him, while watching a kiddie show. I'll admit that, because HOTTTT!

And I don't know why I'm up this late. Sorry for the weird insomniatic commenting.

Also, my word verification is "bulating"- does that sound like an actual word to you, too? Is it an actual word?!?

Lia said...

I'm glad they checked with Alex's dad. I think Alex must have LOVED his chance to surf the crowd.

And since Becky brought up WV, mine is wristier. My wrist is wristier than yours?

SupaCoo said...

That sounds awesome. I would LOVE to see them in concert. I miss good shows!!

Sphincter said...

You cannot do better than Charlie Brown and Co. Sounds like a blast!

velocibadgergirl said...

Ska was really big during my last two years of high school, and we used to go dance at shows all the time. I think if I tried it now I'd keel over and die, being all old and out of shape. But man, those were some fun times... :D