We’d like to welcome a guest post from Rosa (@rosiita) a longtime Twitter friend of Festival Crashers who we hope to meet up with at Coachella next weekend:
I’d heard about RX Bandits for several years. But when I heard of them, it was the local Long Beach, OC ska-band with horns and things. Meh, not interested … but then came boyfriend after boyfriend after boyfriend trying to get me into them. CD’s at Christmas, tickets to shows, are you joking? Let me be!
It became a joke with the first two and finally with the third I had to fold. One show won’t kill me, right? Might as well just go, have a beer or two and check it out…
Fast forward a year… RXB three consecutive nights in NYC at Gramercy Theater. Their last 3 albums, in their entirety. I was still conflicted, but they’ve actually completely evolved as a band, and I’ve come to embrace them.
I did nights 2 (..and the battle begun) and 3 (Mandala), naturally, because those were the albums I’ve learned to grow and love. I was completely blown away and actually regretfully that I hadn’t given the first night’s album, The Resignation, a shot. The band’s Facebook and Twitter thanked everyone saying, “Playing for you guys last night was likestanding on stage in front of a massive choir singing us our own songs; totally incredible.” Man. “Oops” is all I can think for missing it.
Well, 2 and 3 were events of their own. RX Bandits have been around for ages but still feel like a local band, because they tour like crazy and play tiny places. It’s almost ironic. Small enough for one bus and house lights, but big enough that they can sell out 3 nights in NYC and everyone in the venue is singing every word to every song, even the ones that aren’t singles. It was powerful. Matt Embree is brave enough to write everything he feels. Very political, strong, emotional lyrics.
Their stage presence is incomparable. That chemistry comes from over ten years of playing together. They have a very solid stage presence. The songs are powerful. It’s an amazing thing to see full-album shows because albums in their entirety are pieces of art. They take weeks, months even at times years to write, perfect, record, produce and release. RXB have recorded a number of their albums live. It’s a true testament to their live show.
For me, it’s the charisma of the lead singer, his spastic dancing, the drum circles, the jamming, the bassist in the dark in tune with the crowd and the sound. They truly are genre-bending. A little bit of rock, a lot of groove, a lot of heart and just a little bit a ska. They connect with their audience. It’s a lot of sing along, it gave me goosebumps. To be totally honest, it brought tears to my eyes.
My personal highlights? Night two in it’s entirety. I’ve listened to that album from top to bottom hundreds of times, and that alone speaks volumes since it’s a band I used to refuse to listen to. “Only For the Night” seems to become like an anthem for them. They’ve turned it into an almost 10 minute jam that hits you, over and over. The song “Apparition” is true to its title, it’s haunting.
Now Mandala, that album is extremely experimental. A bit of spanish (which I can appreciate) and a song which is truly an anthem. “Bring Our Children Home or Everything Is Nothing” is powerful. It calls for the audience to get into the emotion with you and sing along.
“White Lies” has the lead singer on the keys, it’s really personal. Those were moments I won’t forget. The keyboards, the guitars, and music was irresistibly danceable. It carried over to an unforgettable show.
We didn’t end it there! Like I said, being that they still feel like a local band, RX Bandits are still completely accessible. It’s not uncommon for them to stay after the show and share drinks with you at the venue bar. I got the chance to tell Matt Embree myself how thankful I was to finally appreciate them, and he appreciated that. It was a funny conversation, to tell someone you used to hate their band, but now can’t get enough. I’m glad it went over well!
I’m gonna try again in a few weeks, to get to California and break into Coachella’s Saturday
side. I can’t imagine seeing RXB in my favorite setting, in the desert only a few hours from where we were both brought up. We’ll see if I can pull it off.
To be continued….