Saturday, August 31, 2013

Ska and Riots

I was flooded with a memory this morning when my Zune picked three Reel Big Fish songs at the gym.

On August 10th, 2005, a rare event happened in Columbia during the summer. It was rare enough that an event was happening at all since 3/4th of the population was gone on summer break, but this event was actually fantastic.

Two concerts were planned in town on the same day, and the promoters for the Blue Note decided to combine the shows. If you had a ticket to either one, you could see the super show now happening. 311, Papa Roach, Unwritten Law, and Reel Big Fish were playing a show for less than $30.

There was this small amphitheater set up behind the Mizzou basketball stadium that I had never noticed. It was probably the worst place I've ever seen a show.

Anyone that bought general admission tickets had to stand on this ridiculously steep hill while those that shelled out $80 a ticket, were able to stand in front of the stage, casually sipping beer because broke college kids couldn't afford those tickets. They had all the room in the world.

Reel Big Fish played a fantastic show, but they unfortunately had to open for everyone and only got to play about six songs.

Unwritten Law was a band that I enjoyed listening to, but wasn't the biggest fan. They recently had lost a guitar player to drugs. So one member down, they played a full set that was pretty entertaining. They won me over enough that I purchased their newest album when I got home that night.

The surprise of the night came when Papa Roach took the stage. I didn't care much for Papa Roach, but this night, they won me over.

After a couple songs, the singer started complaining about how all the best fans were standing on this hill a mile from the stage. They then played one of their hits, "Between Angels and Insects" and the singer incited a mini-riot. "Tear the mother-f-ing wall down. I want to see you beautiful people up here."

The lawn erupted into a mosh pit. People started tearing down the chain link fence that separated the lawn and the nice seats. It was so animalistic and therapeutic. It was one of the most memorable times I've ever had at a show.

Papa Roach left the stage and the fancy seats were now flooded with a few thousand college kids. Security gave up and everyone had a prime spot for 311.

Then, one of my friends said I should go to the bathroom and clean myself up from my post riot appearance.

I went to the bathroom but was sidetracked when I passed a guy in a sweet mohawk. I did your standard movie double take. I was standing next to Reel Big Fish. Reel Big Fish and I went way back to highschool. They headlined several Warped Tours I went to, came to town every summer with a cavalcade of my favorite punk and ska bands, and generally wrong great, uptempo music.

"You guys are Reel Big Fish."

The bassist was the first to turn and without thinking said, "What the hell happened to you?"

I chatted them up for a few minutes. They are still one of the coolest bands I've ever met. I asked them if they could sign my ticket because no one would believe my story. I pulled the ticket out and they were amazed at the pristine condition it was still in. You would've thought that someone just printed it. They spent a few more minutes calling the roadies over, showing them my ticket, amazed at how crisp it was.

They signed my ticket, and I continued on my original mission. Looking back at my in the mirror was a guy with a busted open lip, grass in his hair (I still had some then), and bloodstains all over his shirt. I had never been happier.