July: “Did You Get What You Wanted?” [Fukubukuro 2011]
January 10th, 2012 by Dan

Farewell, Rx Bandits.

We were introduced with The Resignation 2003 as a Christmas gift from my ex-girlfriend. I loved “Mastering the List” and I liked the album then, but I didn’t really LOVE RxB.

Love started in 2006 with …And The Battle Begun. So many great songs on that disc, but tops must always go to “Only for the Night”, which became (and remains) my favorite track.

In 2009 I explored your past with Halfway Between Here and There and Progress, enjoying the strides you’d made and how far you’d come. The seeds were always there and it all gelled with Mandala. Your crowning achievement of all that you wanted to do and all that you wanted to say and, despite my love for your horns, it was the end of that era. You’d grown up and so had I.

Eric was mentioning to me that he finds punk/ska to be young man’s music and I can understand that. Surface level anti-commercial and anti-establishment lyrics give way to more complicated thoughts about war, women, regret, loss. RxB’s songs had that arc. I mean, they may still hate the man, but it’s not in the same way that a punk kid just hates the man for being “fake”. RxB wants social change, but not anarchy, you know? It’s a fine line to toe.

Quick digression, both FIF and RxB were big on women’s rights and image issues and it makes me think that the ska scene tries to be friendlier to women (there were certainly a few women-led ones in the past), but I have no idea if that’s actually true. Any scene that’s big on moshing and all that can’t really be all that girl-friendly, can it? I may just have a biased view…

Anyway, RxB ran its farewell tour through DC in July and I knew I couldn’t miss it. I tried (in vain) to get someone to come with me, but despite being unable to muster any other concert goers other than myself, I went down to the 9:30 Club for the big show.

The only other Farewell Tour I’d been on was the fantastic Five Iron Frenzy Winners Never Quit tour (ED NOTE: FIF is actually a thing again! They got back together in Nov and they’ll be releasing an album in 2013!). That was such an emotional and awesome show. I almost cried at that show and I single-handedly credit it to proving to me that concerts can be mega-awesome. I knew I had to go to RxB’s.

It was a slightly different environment, for sure. I wasn’t 17 anymore and moshing wasn’t generally allowed at FIF concerts, but I’ve been to enough concerts that it wasn’t too jarring. Some of the jostling kept me from really focusing on the show, but it was still one of their most incredible gigs. I wish they’d brought back the horns for the last tour, but everyone was still on their A-game. Matt Embree and Steve Choi, in particular, were outstanding and showed why their direction defined the band post-Progress.

The highlight of the night was their show-ending “Only for the Night”. It was a meandering stunner. They start the song, flow into jams and other songs for another seven to ten minutes, and, when you’ve forgotten that this started with “Only for the Night”, they come bursting back into the song for its bombastic ending. It just felt so right and the entire venue was just blown away.

At the end of the night it was another goodbye. FIF was a farewell to high school. I went out of town to see them and it was a way to end the thread of music that had carried me through middle school and high school. RxB was the music I jammed to in undergrad and in that post-university limbo. It’s weird saying goodbye to a thing I love and a period of my life that I feel like I’ve moved past.

Thanks for the music, RxB. You guys were the best.

Rx Bandits at Ace of Spades - Sacramento

Peace, Matt Embree (Photo Courtesy Eric Lovato)

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