It sounds reductive to say that you either get Bomb the Music Industry! or you don't, but in the last 10 or so years of their existence that's how it has played out. People who don't get it tend to shrug their shoulders or spew vitriol about them around the internet. But the people who get it, holy shit, do they get it. They PayPal donations for free music, they scrawl lyrics across their shoes, sear the amp from Get Warmer into their skin. They drive hours through dark Tennessee mountains for an hour-long show in some warehouse, burn through their minimum wages to travel 500 miles to a punk house in Pittsburgh, run out in the middle of a show to find a shirt for the band spray-paint. They fly from fucking Finland to New York for a three-hour goodbye.
So Bomb's goodbye weekend was for them (not like it could be any other way). 15-year-old ska kids and 30-year-old jaded punks alike.
Their first show of the weekend was on Long Island, in Amityville Music Hall, a small club that could fit about 200 people. While their later shows had to be at a huge hall out of necessity-and still weren't able to accommodate all the fans that wanted to be there-it was fitting that the band would start out the weekend in the kind of tiny club they spent most of their career in, on a dark street in the suburbs. There was a palpable sense of camaraderie in the air. It seemed like everyone knew each other already, whether from years of going to Long Island punk shows together or immediately bonding with strangers over this whole weekend ("Yeah, I came up from DC for the weekend!" "I flew in from Georgia!" "I live down the street!")
Broadcaster kicked off the night with their energetic and approachable brand of Long Island punk, followed by Max Levine Ensemble's earnest folky tunes. And then the gentle piano notes of "Campaign for a Better Next Weekend" began. People started grinning and hugging their friends while Jeff Rosenstock sang about his broken bike, bouncing on their toes, waiting for the tension to break and the drums to barrel in; when it came, everyone lost it.
Within the first ten minutes, someone got his ear almost torn open when he fell on Tom Malinowski's guitar cab, scattering blood all over the stage in front of him and narrowly missing John DeDomenici's punk rock prom queen tiara (which he would wear at all three shows). Laura Stevenson grinned and sang from behind a keyboard in the corner, while Matt Keegan's green trombone came dangerously close to punching the front row in the nose.
"I finally figured out how to get people to a show on Long Island," they joked. "Just say you're breaking up."
One dude at the front was so drunk already that he became gelatinous about 15 minutes into the set. There's always that one guy who's drunker than the band known for being as drunk as possible on stage, and this dude immediately filled that role by sliding to one side or the other. Not against people. His body just fell sideways a lot until Jeff gave him a look and said "Uh, hey guy, are you okay? I think it's time for you to take a break for a while." "S'ookkayy yeah," he slurred as he oozed to the side again.
In addition to their banter, including John's, "My girlfriend is over there booing us right now" as he strapped on her keytar, Bomb stuck with their time-honored tradition of throwing in random pieces of someone else's songs between their own. (Friday they would cover the first few bars of the Weakerthans' "Manifest," while Sunday featured a piece of the Fad's "Vinyl Paradise.") "This is a ska song!" Jeff announced as he slung his saxophone around his neck. The band kicked into Pavement's "Gold Soundz," proving that just about anything can be a ska song if you add some brass to it, and then slid into "Three Small Words" from the Josie and the Pussycats movie, because why not, man, why not? People were singing along the entire time. And then, all of a sudden, Bomb were playing "Can't Complain," which somehow seamlessly flowed out of that Josie song, and everyone kept on singing the words like they were meant to be put together like that.
All things considered, it was probably a good move for them to start with a small show on Long Island. Their set was a pretty standard Bomb set, with "25" and "Sanawon" and "493 Ruth" and all the other best songs to yell along to, but it felt like business as usual more than a goodbye. They'd only practiced as a full band again for two days prior, and their last show was months ago. So, even though it was as fun and cathartic as their shows ever were, there was a sense that they were still getting back on their feet.
After the show, the responsible ones and the minors slowly drifted away while everyone else piled into cars and drove down Sunrise Highway to Massapequa. Mugsy Magee's, a little Irish pub, was hosting the real highlight of the night- a six-man multi-band conglomerate dedicated to covering Limp Bizkit songs. The Biscuits' first incarnation was around their mutual friend's wedding in California; once they realized they'd all be together again across the country, they decided to reprise it. For some reason. Three Bomb members--Jeff and John, who filled in as dueling Wes Borlands, and Matt Keegan-joined forces with Matt Kurz, who stepped behind the drum set, and Chotto Ghetto's Chris Shilakes and Fletcher Alliston, who sang and DJed, respectively.
Mugsy McGee's is a fraction of the size of Amityville Music Hall, so about 60 people were able to squeeze in for the pleasure of hearing 311 blaring from the jukebox, because these people have great and terrible taste in music. No Limp Bizkit cover show is complete without ghoulish Wes Borland makeup, so John's roommate and costuming superstar Abby Armada managed to outfit Jeff and John with pretty respectably horrifying skeleton faces in about 10 minutes.
Throughout the earlier show Bomb had been talking about this one, telling the audience to "Throw your biscuits up!" in the middle of their own set, followed by variously successful attempts by the drunken sweaty crowd to make a round "biscuit" with their hands. "That's a triangle! Ah, fuck it." Here all biscuits were perfect, as perfect as everyone was (still) drunk. "Chris Schurst," outfitted with his required backwards red Yankees hat, bounded into the tight crowd to start the show as they covered the, uh, classics, including "My Generation," "Rollin'," and "Break Stuff." "I can't believe I did that!" yelled Matt Kurz gleefully, jumping on his drum set after "Nookie." The audience, beer-soaked and laughing, sang along to every word, finally free to shamelessly cop to knowing nu-metal songs by heart without having to deal with the actual Fred Durst. Amongst a tiny contingent of friends and fans, playing in a ridiculous cover band, the Biscuits displayed as much, if not more, energy than Bomb had, and honestly, they stole the night. How could they not?