Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Aquabats at the San Diego House Of Blues, Thursday July 18, 2013

My home has become awash in Aquabats Fever over the past several months, thanks to my decision to introduce my niece to The Aquabats! Super Show!. Usually when I'm obsessed with something, nobody really listens to me but Mokey took it and ran with it and now we're all crazy about them. Thanks a lot, me! (Or something like that?)
(Fun side note: my brother, who first introduced me to The Aquabats back when I was in high school, was the last one in the house to grow to enjoy the TV show.)
So it was only natural that I would spare no expense in getting to see The Aquabats in concert when I found out they were playing in San Diego. The show was tied to Comic Con, which is something I haven't been to in five years and have no intention of going back anytime soon (too crowded and expensive) but I have friends who live in San Diego who have an air mattress they let me sleep on and, since they were going to Con, let me ride into downtown with them the day of the show.
I shan't bore you with what I spent most of the day doing (short version: walking around) and skip straight to the good bits.
The Aquabats opened with Fashion Zombies, enhanced by some pretty sweet classic horror movie clips playing on a screen behind them and my brain shut down and went into Fangirly Concertgoer Mode, where I turn into a screaming, cheering, dopey smiling, bouncing fangirl nutball. I usually have this terrible need to always be in control of my actions and my brain, to always have some semblance of decorum in pretty much every situation. The only time that shuts off and I revert entirely to instinct is when I'm at a concert, I'm in the front row and a band I love is playing loud, awesome music directly in front of me.
And if that band is The Aquabats and The MC Bat Commander is standing on the barricade and stepping on my stuff, so much the better.
My memories of the show come in fits and starts; I remember bits and pieces of the evening but not what order they go in, just that they happened and they were wonderful. A few standout moments:
- Jimmy popping a bubble with his mind
- The MC Bat Commander trying on an audience member's Warriors vest
- throwing plastic balls at a wizard who came onstage to jeer The Aquabats
- blowing a kiss to Crash and him blowing one back to me
- the Commander making up a song called I'm So Sleepy I'm Gonna Go To Sleep
- Warren Fitzgerald of The Vandals coming out to sing I Have A Date
- Jimmy saying "purple is a fruit" and then smiling at me when I cheered
- Eaglebones and Chainsaw having a guitar duel that quickly devolved into playing each other's guitars
- the title card from Rad popping up on the screen behind them during Super Rad and the weird pink dragon that "flew" across the stage during Luck Dragon Lady
- The MC Bat Commander periodically opening bottles of water to fling onto the overheating front rows of the audience (and subsequently fogging my glasses but what are you gonna do)
- Jimmy mumbling his way through Robot Dreams, even with the lyrics in front of him
I tried my best when I got back to Shelby's that night to write down all the songs they played but I'm certain I missed some. If I had any complaint about the show it would be that they didn't play much of their older, ska-ier stuff.
If I had a second complaint about the show it would be that The MC Bat Commander did not do a backflip.
But those complaints are so miniscule that they may as well not even exist.
Remember when I saw Local H and was completely blown away by them, so in love with the concert that I couldn't believe I hadn't been listening to them all along? I had a similar feeling during this Aquabats concert but for reasons on the complete opposite end of the spectrum.
That Local H show was small, intimate and consisted of two blow-you-away talented musicians on stage, performing for an audience. Then Scott Lucas duct taped a microphone to his face and jumped into the audience and I had a "where have you been all my life?" mental reboot. It was small and magical and chaotic.
The Aquabats show was much larger and not nearly as intimate, size-of-venue-and-audience-wise, but it was just as magical and chaotic (possibly even moreso), and they made up for the lack of intimacy by the guys in the band doing their best to interact with the audience, providing us with plastic balls to throw at the wizard, doing their best to banter with and talk to the crowd, and in the out-and-out chaos that was Pool Party.
You see, the show was all-ages and The Aquabats pulled onstage as many of their little homies as they possibly could (as well as a bunch of kids from backstage). Then they re-brought out their special guests, Chainsaw, Rick-the-guy-on-the-bike and Warren Fitzgerald, as well as opening act DJ Lance Rock. Then the song started, beach balls and inflatable sharks and plastic balls started bouncing around the audience, along with pool floaties and two giant Rover balloons. Then the confetti came. And there were plenty of smoke-filled bubbles floating out over the crowd and the stage all night, so those were there, too. And midway through the song I realized that I have been to concerts where the band interacts with the audience, I have been to They Might Be Giants and Gogol Bordello shows that feel like parties (and in the case of TMBG, have included confetti), I've been to punk shows where things have gotten crazy or out of hand.
But I have never been to a show that felt anything near like the family friendly punk rock party insanity that The Aquabats invoked during Pool Party.
After the show I drank pretty much an entire bottle of water in one gulp, bought some stuff from the merch table and went outside to wait for the band to come out. Which they did and, being the super awesome and friendly guys that they are, they hung around to talk to people, sign things (in my case, an Up All Night trucker cap) and take pictures with the fans.
So I got to meet Crash:
and I inadvertently said something that I think made him feel old and I still feel bad about that and cringe at myself a little bit when I think about it.
Then I got to meet Ricky:
and I guess Ricky Fitness is my camera's favorite Aquabat because it was so excited to take a picture of him that it fainted out of my hand and smashed on the ground and broke its lens and I had to get the rest of the pictures on my phone's lousy camera. (Ricky tried to make me feel better by telling me he'd had, like, three of those cameras and the lenses broke on all of them.)
Then I got to meet Jimmy:
and it turns out he was the one person in the band who froze my brain more than any other. I wanted to talk to him but just couldn't make words form.
Then I got to meet the Commander:
who turned out to be the easiest member of the band to talk to, which surprised me because I assumed he'd be the one I'd be the most starstruck by. But he was so friendly that I managed to chat with him like he was just some guy. (Which, in a way, he is...)
Then I got to meet Chainsaw:
with his remarkably dashing beard.
And I thought I had missed Eaglebones but it turns out he was just standing a bit away from everyone else, so I not only got to meet him:
but I also got to see him say goodnight to Jimmy and as I was leaving he handled it very well when I momentarily forgot how handshakes work.
(Also, before Jimmy said goodnight to his bandmate he tried to talk to me about the trucker caps and how they looked just like the ones on the show but my brain froze again and I don't recall if I actually said anything to him in reply. I know I opened my mouth to offer to give him one, realized that was silly and then shut my mouth again; I certainly do hope I said something.)
It was an amazing show, a fantastic night and words can't begin to express how much fun I had and how much I want to go to another one.
They may have beaten Local H for Best Concert Of 2013.

End of line.

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