Kinda fitting for the Hot Chocolate Tour to roll into town (San Antonio) after we spent most of the day thawing from an ice storm that temporarily shut down the city.
On my drive down to St. Mary’s I had a rather uncomfortable thought in the the back of my mind… I have officially reached the age (36) where I’m hyper aware the average age around me is 19.
Got a call, while withdrawing cash from a local ATM. It was my friend Donald, who informed me that a line has queued up outside the Limelight and wants to know how long before I get there because he’s not looking forward to hanging outside with teenagers.
We agree quickly over the phone that All Age Shows have their drawbacks… I remind him however that getting drinks at the bar should be swift all night.
Parking turned out being really hard to find near the Limelight, so I parked a few blocks down on St. Mary’s behind a bar I like to frequent called the Mix.
As expected, it wasn’t particularly difficult to spot Donald in a sea of 20 and unders… for those unfamiliar with the Limelight - it’s flanked directly to the right by a well lit female strip club called Hardbodies. I only mention this because it’s always seems to be mentioned by out of town music acts who perform at the Limelight. You Blew It! and The Front Bottoms did not disappoint on making said remark…
So it occurs to me after standing in line for about 10 minutes that the show is freakishly well attended. I’ve seen the Front Bottoms in San Antonio and Austin and I have never seen them draw like the did at the Limelight. I recently read that You Blew It! appeared in the billboard top 200, so maybe the two teaming up lead to a huge turnout before doors opened at 8pm.
Stopped by the merchandise table after checking in at will call and dropped 15 bucks on You Blew It! latest album Keep Doing What You’re Doing. It was available in orange or clear vinyl and settled on picking up the orange one. The front of the album has a circle die cut that allows you to see the center cut label of the album. Tis the simple things in life that excite me…
Within minutes of opening the doors - a band whose name I did not catch - begins their set. The bill originally had “the Wild” opening the show but I never got around to discovering why they weren’t in attendance.
You Blew It! followed promptly after and informed us all that they were from Orlando, Florida. I’m pretty sure they opened with their single - Award of the Year Award. It’s at this very moment that I wished I brought something to the show to scribble on… It also occurs to me that I have an unhealthy amount of Gin coursing though my body and it’s not 9:30 PM yet.
The band briefly breaks between numbers to interact with the crowd. The place is not only filled to near capacity but everyone is pressed upfront and engaged with the opening act. Lead vocalist Tanner Jones is visibly affected by the response and breaks character briefly to ask attendees to be on the lookout for his Leather Jacket. In one of the pockets is a lucky blue lighter and he doesn’t want to lose it. He left it at the merchandise booth and he just noticed that its no longer on the chair he left it on.
Keep it classy San Antonio.
The band presses on, playing a number of tracks off their new album: Match & Tinder, You & Me & Me and Gray Matter to name a few.
I leaned over to Donald and mention to him that they remind me a lot of the band Mock Orange (Nine and Sixes)… he blankly stares back at me. I’m the only person in attendance who lived in the Midwest (Detroit) in 1996 and I’m drunkenly making references to bands like: Sharks Keep Moving and the Gloria Record to kids who don’t care.
A lengthy break followed their set… which allowed me to make a number of other observations. Example: I’m really glad that the practice of squatting (sitting on your ass on the floor) between sets has not been carried over in the recent emo-revival. In retrospect this was really fucking stupid and kinda wish I didn’t participate in this practice.
Another observation: Brian (vocalist) and Mathew (drummer) are no where to be seen during soundcheck… I lean over to Donald and informed them that “they have officially arrived”.
Shortly after someone on stage connects a set of christmas lights into a power strip - an air filled cartoon rabbit erects behind the drum kit…. this is the official queue for Brian and Mathew to grace the stage.
At this point everyone is packed sweatily together and the place erupts. The Limelight has a low celling in front of the stage so if you’re not directly in front of the stage its kinda like catching a sweaty basement show. (Summer of ’96)
Brian slowly walks to the mic and he appears to be wearing Tanner Jones leather jacket. He informs everyone in attendance that he intends to keep it on all night and sweat heavily into it. I presume the lucky blue lighter was recovered.
The band tears into the song “Skeleton” from their new album “Talon of the Hawk”… and everyone in attendance sings along while losing their shit.
The Front Bottoms have added two members to their live show to handle duties of keys, guitars, occasional trumpets and bass. It’s roughly been 2 calendar years since I’ve seen them in San Antonio and they sound incredible.
Much to my surprise they baked in a great deal of improvisational space into a number of their songs… this is a clear reflection of them growing leaps and bounds from touring relentlessly.
The song - Funny You Should Ask - is now a completely different animal when heard live - thanks to the improvised song structures…
Admittedly, I was a little down on “Talon of the Hawk” when I picked it up last year… I didn’t instantly take to it like I did with their debut record - but I’ve kinda come full circle after hearing them played live.
The Front Bottoms blistered through my favorite song Beers halfway though their set and closed the evening with a three song encore that concluded with the song Twin Sized Mattress.