The full lineup for this show was Chubby Tuff, Whole Wheat Bread, A Wilhelm Scream, and Catch 22. For those of you who don't know who Chubby Tuff are (everyone in the world), they're a Florida ska band who claim to be "cooler than your mom." I'm not sure how bands like this still exist in 2005, but they do.
My first big shock of the night was showing up at the State Theatre and finding a huge line down the street. I had no idea that Catch 22 still had such a huge fanbase; come to think of it, I had no idea ska still had such a huge fanbase. I was kind of annoyed, but my friends and I just went to get something to eat to kill the time necessary for the line to die and Chubby Tuff to play.
When we came back, Chubby Tuff only had two songs left, but the kids were going nuts. I mean, they were going fucking bonkers. It was at this point that I was able to conclude that ska kids love ska bands; it doesn't matter if they've ever heard them before or if they're any good; all that matters is whether or not they're ska. Kids were crowdsurfing, skanking up on stage with the band, just loving it. I also decided that if nothing else, ska is admirable for its sole motive of fun. All the same, looking at these kids made me want to kill myself.
Standing near the back of the place, I saw Whole Wheat Bread's bass player and asked him if there was any particular reason that they always seem to tour with ska bands. Do ska bands just love Whole Wheat Bread, do they have the same booking agent as all the ska bands, I mean, what's the deal? It turns out that they do have the same booking agent, and that booking agent is Catch 22's bass player. That explains it all right.
Whole Wheat Bread started setting up and the kids started cheering and chanting and going nuts. All the tours with Streetlight Manifesto, Big D, and Catch 22 have paid off. Now ska kids love WWB. The onstage skanking and pseudo-stage diving continued throughout their set and they even came back out for an encore after the chanting wouldn't die. Oh, and since this is supposed to be a review I'm writing, let me tell you about the band's actual performance. They opened the set with their album's super short, closing track "Miss The Bus" and immediately started flying around the stage. For such a young band I was impressed by their stage presence. They weren't at all awkward and stayed energetic through the whole set. They covered most of their debut Minority Rules and played three new songs as well. For those of you familiar with Minority Rules, I'm sure you've noticed that some of the songs tend to be kind of bland, and rightfully so; it's a debut from a young band. Anyways, the new songs sounded pretty good. They all had their own feel and it seems like WWB are definitely learning how to branch out a little bit. For the encore, they did "Miss Perfection," which I could have done without. I was hoping for "Overrated." And is it just me, or isn't it kind of strange for a support act to do an encore?
The Whole Wheat Bread set was kind of marred by the onstage fan skanking and I was hoping these kids weren't going to do that to A Wilhelm Scream. I conducted my own little insta-poll with the kids around me and quickly discovered that no one had any fucking clue who A Wilhelm Scream were. Thank God.
AWS definitely saved the fucking show when they kicked it up with "Killing It." My friends and I immediately pushed our little checker-shoed friends to the side and made our way to the front. They followed it up with "The King Is Dead" (minus the quiet intro) and continued on with a nice mix of Mute Print and Ruiner tracks. For those of you interested, the full set (and this is pretty close to exact order) was "Killing It," "The King Is Dead," "Famous Friends And Fashion Drunks," "Anchor End," "When I Was Alive: Walden III," "The Kids Can Eat A Bag Of Dicks," an old Smackin Isaiah song, "The Soft Sell," "Dreaming Of Throwing Up," "Me Vs. Morrissey...," and "The Rip."
By the end of the set I was drenched in sweat, had no voice, couldn't hear, and was on my way out the door. I had joked earlier that I was gonna stay for Catch 22 just to hear "12341234" and relive the 8th grade, but there was no way I could handle it at this point. Even if I hadn't have been wiped out, I couldn't handle any more strange looks from frizzy-haired band geeks who couldn't fathom why I hadn't skanked for this band that I had clearly liked. Anyways, even if there were only 8 kids out of 600 at this show that were into AWS, it was obvious that they're on the way up. Their stage presence has improved since I last saw them, and they've now got two killer albums on the shelf. Part of me wishes they'd never get popular and I could keep them all to myself, but part of me knows that if I want more AWS albums, they've got to make some money, which means they've got to get more fans, which is what's going to happen. I'm sure that every kid at that show is going to check them out after seeing them...even if they don't have a horns section.