Reel Big Fish, The Rave, Milwaukee Wisconsin, December 7th 2011

This show was attended by Max, my son. He received the tickets in the mail and was waving them around in excitement, much like I did back in the day. Though ticket buying then was largely reserved for the Ticket Master booth and long lines. He bought them online. Ah progress.

When the day came he and a few friends (one with a 21st birthday that night at midnight – Hi Colin) drove to The Rave in Milwaukee to see Reel Big Fish. Now, I have not really heard anything by this band that I know of, but, for some reason I was thinking Phish. I couldn’t understand why Max would be going to see them… didn’t seem his style. He of course, the next night, corrected me at his post show concert report which he charmingly delivered in the kitchen to me with a smile. It had been a fantastic show.

The opening bands had been hit or miss, but the breaks in-between he used to move up towards the stage. Max found himself right up front by the time Reel Big Fish hit the stage. There was a railing of course around the stage and despite being a great vantage point to see the band it was also a bit dangerous with all the skanking and skank circles going on. Now, I had to admit to Max I didn’t know what skanking was, but, he demonstrated, swinging arms and all. Ah, moshing, I thought, or a close cousin of it. At the railing, he noticed an arm, a big one, reach past him and brace and grip on the metal. He turned to see a large man behind him. As it turns out, he was cool and just wanted to brace himself against the crowd, which in turn cushioned Max from the crowd. Being smashed into the railing repeatedly is no fun. So he was cocooned throughout the whole show by this huge man and his arm guard.

That night he advised his friend who had never been to a Ska concert about skank circles and to “stay on your feet”. Later in the show he actually saw 2 of his friends pass overhead nearby, being body passed. The body pass is always a gamble, you can get dropped, or passed towards security who WILL pull you out and send you outside, or, it can be a defining moment. I for one have never body surfed. Most of the shows I went to were either blues shows (no body passing) or so huge that body’s that were being passed were like ants from where I sat.

I wish Max could have been there the night Dalton and I went to see Wool, The Toadies and L7. It was at The Cow Palace in Madison.

Wool opened and were giving away a 3 song cassette. I still have it.

Wool wasn’t bad, but we were more intent on getting a place for The Toadies. Dalton knew them and we ended up on the cement bleachers when The Toadies hit the stage. They were very good. There was a mosh pit and we intended to be down at least close to the when L7 came on.

For L7 we were down on the cement  floor. It was LOUD and frantic and we were about 30 feet from the stage. A comfortable and semi-safe distance. We kept inching up until we were on the edge of the mosh pit. Finally Dalton couldn’t take it anymore… I watched him bounce away into the crowd of moshers. I tracked his bouncing head for a bit then he was swallowed up. He would be gone for half a song and then reappear and join me again, sweaty and smiling.

Each new song that started he would give me that wide eyed look, make the noise we made for “awesome” and stomp into the crowd again. I ventured as close to the mosh pit as I could, but I was content to be on the fringe. It was an amazing show. L7 rocked.

We were on the floor, directly in the audio shock wave debris field, sonic ground zero. My ears were literally, and scarily I might add, ringing for a week after that show. On the 5th day after the show I concluded that if it wasn’t better by the weekend I was going to see a doctor the next week. I didn’t want L7 to be the last band I ever heard.

I got better.

I did however start taking precautionary earplugs to any shows after that.

I guess that officially makes me old.

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