As a few friends and I hopped on the train from central New Jersey to New York, there was a wild tension in the air. Our excitement was ecstatic and all we could think or talk about on the ride into the city was what the final Bomb The Music Industry! show would really be like on January 19, 2014. Getting to the venue was easy for us, considering many people flew out or drove for hours on end to get to Brooklyn for the night's celebrations. There was a short line to get into the Warsaw, and within a few minutes of doors opening we were slowly meandering our way into the venue. It was a very sheen and polished place with hardwood floors and chandeliers, and the grand hall where the stage was seemed a bit grandiose for a punk show. Nevertheless the place was halfway filled with people from all different walks of life when Laura Stevenson & The Cans took the stage to start the show.
The Cans flawlessly backed Laura's shining voice as they tore through their songs with near perfect fluidity. There was also a bit of banter where a lucky fan got to snap into the Slim Jim that Laura had in her pocket. Their amazing set came to a close with the song "Landslide/The Dig" off of her first album, which got the crowd jumping and moving and singing along. In between bands the crowd would shuffle out of the ballroom over to the bar for another beer or crowd outside in the smoking section. Everyone was in high spirits, and most of the people I met were extremely nice and just stoked to be there. It was a very warm and uplifting atmosphere.
Fifteen minutes later Cheap Girls took the stage. They are the one band on the bill that I had never really listened to, so I wandered around and watched from afar. Jeff came out with an acoustic to play one of their songs with them, and their set was pretty good overall from what I recall. After another beer, my friends and I were rife with anticipation to see Andrew Jackson Jihad. They walked on stage to a deafening roar and Sean and Ben started recollecting about their memories on the road with BTMI!, and how they had come to know each other. When the music started the entire crowd surged and everyone was thrown into a frenzy of mayhem. It blew my mind how two guys with an acoustic and a standup bass could start up a whirlwind of thrash pits and stage dives in a room with hundreds of people. Their set was filled with older songs and crowd favorites, it seemed like everyone was singing along as they plucked and picked through their short set.
Once AJJ were done, BTMI began setting up their gear and the ballroom was now fully packed to the brim. Everyone stared in anticipation at the stage, waiting patiently for the band to start. Jeff took the stage to uproarious applause and the first few piano notes of "Campaign For A Better Next Weekend" sent the audience swinging wildly and thrashing about. Jeff stopped the song a few seconds in and told everyone to calm down (which was mildly successful) before they started again. After a brief pause the notes rang out again and you could barely make out Jeff's vocals above the thunderous singing of the crowd. It felt like being a part of a giant organism made up of hundreds of people. When the distorted guitars kicked in halfway through the song, the crowd went wild again and we were surging back and forth. Being in the audience itself was an incredible feeling. You could literally grab anyone next to you and sing the lyrics in their face, or put your arm around a random stranger and scream along with them. Anyone who fell down was promptly picked back up, and you could tell that everyone was truly there to have a great time and express their love for Bomb The Music Industry!
BTMI tore through their first set of twenty songs at a relentless pace. The crowd didn't let up one bit and there were stage dives and singalongs, with people clapping to the beat and jumping up and down nonstop. They brought out Matt Kurz, their former guitar player to jam some of the older songs with them, and you could tell that the band was having a great time because they were all smiles. Within minutes everyone in the venue was drenched in sweat and when they finished their first set, everyone had to settle down after using so much energy.
Another fifteen minutes later and BTMI took the stage for their second set, opening with "Get Warmer". The crowd and band were noticeably exhausted but it didn't matter, everyone went right back into the throng and the energy was back up again. Halfway through the set you could tell that there was an air of sadness in the room, as everyone knew that this would be Bomb's last show ever (until the inevitable reunion show). As the night came to a close with Future 86, there were a lot of people (myself included) openly crying, and the band itself seemed at a loss for words before starting the song. A confetti cannon showered the audience with little bits of papery fun during the last chorus and the place erupted yet again to scream all of the lyrics. After an encore consisting of "Blow Your Brains Out On Live TV" and "Don't Destroy Yourself", the band thanked everyone for being a part of their lives and left the stage. The crowd filtered out slowly past the merch booths and outer bar and back out into the windy city streets, dazzled and enthralled from an incredible performance.
Reunion Prediction: I personally think that they will play a reunion show at some point. But I can honestly say that I don't think that any show after this will match the intensity, fun and emotional outpouring of that night. With two sets consisting of forty songs spanning the entire career of BTMI, and a group of opening bands that are all close friends with them(and all amazing in their own right), I don't see how any reunion show could be better than what was experienced on that weekend at the Warsaw in Brooklyn. So as it may not be the last show we'll ever get to see from them, I believe that these weekend shows were a perfect sendoff for one of the most cherished bands in punk/ska/whatever history. Long live Bomb The Music Industry!!