Nice going, assholes.
I came into BTMI! a little late in the game, save one '05 performance I went to because my friend's band opened. I didn't really actually check the band out until I was living on Long Island, and hanging out with a jolly group of deranged assholes. I watched all of the friends I grew up with mature and start settling down. We were(/are) still getting drunk on weekdays. It's a sheer coincidence that "To Leave or Die on Long Island" was the first album I listened to. But "Stand There Until You're Sober" really hit hard, and I spent the next month listening to just that record. I've always been fond of the band's open nature - they're not "performers," they're people playing music. For you. Meeting your idols is usually weird, but seeing BTMI! members around town has become so commonplace. The first time I really saw them, Jeff came up to a group of us after the show and rung out his sweaty shirt on us. A few years later, he bummed a cigarette or two off of me at a Cheap Girls show. The band's "we're all in this together" mentality has helped me through some long, dark times. It's brought me closer to a lot of people, and helped me deal with people going away.
BTMI's final show at Warsaw on January 19, 2014, was every bit as sweaty, loud, drunk and disastrous as you'd imagine. In other words, it was a fitting end. Counting a 15-minute intermission, the band played for roughly three full hours, tearing through songs from every album. The band, always a collective, ended as one. People came and went from stage, and it was all a messy, contradictory collection of their songs. The band sounded great as always, like in a hard-hitting version of "Get Warmer," and "Sort of Like Being Pumped," with Laura Stevenson. "Side Projects are Never Successful" and "Congratulations, John, on Joining Every Time I Die" (with John on bass) have never sounded better. Opener "Campaign For a Better Weekend" nearly brought down the club. They covered all bases from "Shut Up the Punx!" to "Can't Complain," and ended with the devastating combination of "25!," "Future 86," "Blow Your Brains Out on Live TV!!" and the hidden track from the end of "Vacation," the last song from the last album.
The last show acted more as a metaphor for the band itself - maybe too drunk, maybe too messy, and not ending until it absolutely have to. They made a ton of jokes in between and during songs. They played "Showerbeers" twice, and Jeff broke into Papa Roach's "Last Resort" twice. Mic stands fell, guitars came unplugged and singers were shoved away by and replaced by fans. It was a beautiful disaster, and one that only proved BTMI! as the most approachable and DIY punk band that we have right now.
Reunion Prediction: There's a proverb as old as time, that goes, "Is BTMI! really over?" The last time I saw them was their last "last" Brooklyn show a year ago. About a month later, I was at a non-music related event when a fairly reliable source (Jeff) told me that they were planning a few last shows for later that year. I had a whole year to prepare my ears and heart (and liver and ribcage) for an emotional goodbye. And there was no better way to go out. When the DVD comes out, you'll see Matt Kurz spill a beer on me during "I Don't Love You Anymore," and a friend jump on stage and sing part of "Syke! Life is Awesome!" This one really felt like the end. I laughed, I cried, I drank a lot of whiskey. Part of me thinks that was the last BTMI! show ever. Part of me wants Jeff to join another four-letter abbreviated band, like NoFX or ABBA. But the band was having too much fun on stage to think that this is truly the end. I think we'll see them again soon enough. In the words of a true poet: Nothing's forever, dude.