Punknews advised that before reviewing the actual last Bomb the Music Industry! show, it would be good to map out my entire trip leading up to the occasion. While many dedicated fans traveled from all over to attend the last Bomb the Music Industry! shows, my overall trip was rather anticlimactic: it consisted of a ten-minute walk to the venue. Thus, I think my time may be better spent discussing my metaphorical journey, if you will - if you won't, you might as well stop reading.
For me, Bomb the Music Industry! is the rare example of a band that grows more resonant over time. I was aware of BTMI! in high school, but they didn't fully rub off on me until college when I listened to SCRAMBLES and it hit me like a brick. For those of you who have been listening since ALBUM MINUS BAND, and feel like I'm an asshole for writing this review when clearly I caught on late, I am sorry. For those of you who don't mind when I joined the bandwagon, as long as I joined for the right reasons, I am going to continue.
At this point, it feels superfluous to explain how the band conducted themselves throughout their career: albums for free, all ages shows, ten-dollar tickets, etc. You know it. I know it. That is not to say the ideals are not important. They are. The fact that BTMI! stuck to their uncompromising morals throughout their whole run was impressive and inspiring. As an audience member, I marveled and hoped that the band felt extra vindicated by closing their run with two sold out shows in a 1000 capacity venue, as it seemed to represent that you can do things your own way, and as long as your way produces products of consistent quality, an audience will follow. Of course, BTMI's ideals alone would not have garnered so much attention had they not written melodies and hooks better than the average band, or most bands for that matter. Luckily, BTMI did.
Then, there are Bomb the Music Industry's lyrics, which carry a surprising amount of weight, in an extremely palatable fashion. And this is coming from someone who is generally really bad with lyrics, like, I didn't realize "Brown Sugar" was not a happy song until ten years after I first heard it, bad. Yet, Bomb the Music Industry! is one of those bands that inspire you to read the linear notes so you can know each and every word. I remember when I first heard VACATION, I kept replaying the last twenty seconds of "Everybody That Loves You," when Jeff sings, "I hope you get the job that you've been looking for/You are decent girl and you don't need this anymore/And yeah, I get that, for sure‚?¶" It felt like an awfully introspective thought for a song so catchy. It also shows that Jeff is never afraid to place the blame upon himself, as heard in "25!": "Get out of my way because I'm 25 and I still act like I'm ten goddamn years old!"
For all the bleakness, however, there is also hope. In "Get Warmer," after singing about self-doubt, the song concludes with, "‚?¶And the feeling stays with you all day/ Until you go and put on a new t-shirt and throw that old one away." To me, these lyrics represent a sort of "hopeful cynicism." Things are bad, but they can also get better. Sad but warm. Dark but sunny. I think the best art is able to encapsulate this aforementioned feeling, and it's really hard to do. The only comparison I can think of is Charlie Brown, as Charles Schulz infuses hopeful bleakness all throughout his work. (I consider the Charlie Brown analogy high praise, as I once drunkenly told an individual I thought Charlie Brown was "humanity's top achievement", and after soberly revisiting the statement, I didn't find myself arguing). Well, Bomb the Music Industry! also has a grasp on this idea of celebratory sadness.
I realize I have yet to review the final show on January 19, 2014, but with all this adulation, it is probably fair to assume I loved it, yeah? I was trying to avoid listing songs they played, as that just seems like a less succinct version of a setlist. Anyway, I'd seen BTMI! before but until Sunday, I'd never seen them play a set that I believe lasted over two hours, in which they played most every song you would want to hear. I was excited when they began "Campaign For A Better Next Weekend"- and so was everyone else, illustrated by that fact that people almost immediately started getting crushed. That being said, this was a nice crowd. I'm pretty sure many people were shoved around, not because people were pushing, but because a large number of individuals were emphatically hugging and jumping simultaneously.
I experienced the show from different vantage points, because like all the other guys and gals, I wanted to jump around during, "The First Time I Met Sanawon" and "Side Projects are Never Successful" but I also wanted to stand still and soak up the likes of "Wednesday Night Drinkball," (during which Sean Bonnette and Matt Keegan enacted the songs lyrics: mimicking walking to the library and making phone calls, etc.), and "Stand There Until You're Sober," for which, I stood by the side of the venue (Yeah, lame, whatever).
By the time the band reached the last two songs of the set, and played "Future 86," many both onstage and off, were tearing up. Once the horns came in, confetti shot out, and people were jumping once more. It felt like a fitting end that encapsulated the overall spirit of Bomb the Music Industry! The final, final song, turned out to be "Blow Your Brains Out on Live TV!!!" which had everyone going crazy again, and assured that the night would be remembered as a celebration, rather than a eulogy. The crowd, however, demanded one more, to which Jeff responded with, "Okay, but you're not going to like it," and then proceeded to play a song I believe to be titled "Don't Destroy Yourself," which showcased the band's more somber tendencies. Judging from the respectful quiet and watery eyes in the audience, I think it is fair to say everyone did like the song, and then, that was that.
On the walk back to my apartment, I was also rather misty eyed. I started humming "Future 86," somewhat loudly, hoping that a random man or woman would come up and commiserate- but this did not occur. Oh well, BTMI! will be back because nothing's forever, dude. Right? Right? Who am I kidding? I have no idea.