Concert review by Chris Graue
When it comes to things to do on a Wednesday night, you’d be hard pressed to come up with something cooler than seeing Streetlight Manifesto at The Mayan. There’s probably some joke about going to a concert in December, 2012 at a theater called “The Mayan,” but I’m going to skip it for now and come back to it later. It’s always a treat to see one of those bands that everyone is freaking out about in the height of the freakout-itude. I’ve been to many Streetlight shows over the years when they’ve supported larger acts, but this is the first time I’ve caught them since any post concerning them in an internet forum will elicit an onslaught of comments, arguments, and insights.
First up was a band called Lionize. They’re one of those rock heavy funk bands that leans on something of a dub influence. In short, a type of music that I couldn’t care less about. It’s not that they were untalented, they certainly nailed the performance, but given what they were going for, it was never going to work for me. Gauging the crowd’s reaction, I’d say most felt similar to me…until Aggrolites front man Jesse Wagner joined them on stage for a jam session. While it changed very little sonically, it charged up the crowd for something of an ironic mosh pit. What makes it ironic, you ask? When it fits the energy not at all and the crowd just plows right through the breaks, you will see the participants giggling while they dance.
I took this time to explore the theater. The Mayan is one of those beautiful cultural relics of Los Angeles ’ roaring twenties when opulent theatres adorned every street corner. Far more than grand scaled dry wall and stucco, not a single detail is left unmagnificent. The walls, ceilings, chandeliers, and even moldings were meticulously crafted in a way that simply isn’t done anymore. If you live in Los Angeles and have not seen The Mayan, Warner Grand, Pantages, or any number of other such exquisite structures, you should seek to resolve that immediately.
Hostage Calm was on next, and what a breath of fresh air. Fast, fun, energetic pop punk with a bouncy lead singer was just the kind of flair I was looking for. They got the crowd whipped into the right kind of frenzy, and I’d like to give them all the credit on that, but the truth is that the kids were so anxious to see Streetlight that Yeast Infections On Ice may have had them chomping at the bit just as hard. Whatever the motivation, this was when the crowd surfing began.
Now, this is no unfamiliar phenomenon; crowd surfing is a normal, accepted part of shows that are ska, punk, or whatever your opinion of Streetlight’s genre is (I’ve seen the message boards, don’t hurt me, fill in your own). As expected, the bouncers stood in the photo well, catching kids flying forward and ushering them off to the wings to rejoin the crowd. The difference at The Mayan is that the photo well is higher than the level of the crowd. This is uncommon. Because of this, security could not easily lower crowd surfers down to floor level, but rather awkwardly grasped at them around waist height. Without leverage, a staggering number of kids splatted into the floor or against the stage in gruesome displays. From my angle, I had the perfect view of this horror show set to upbeat music for the remainder of the evening. Once Streetlight came out, I was tempted to start googling local chiropractors.
But I didn’t, because this is what we were all here for. For all the times I’ve seen them, not much has changed. Sure, there are a couple of new songs since their last release in 2007, and they’re fantastic, but most of the rest is the same: it’s fast, loud, there are throwbacks to the Catch-22 songs, and Tomas wears the same damned clothes every time I see him. Seriously, dude, can we raise funds for a new outfit? I feel bad for the guy.
But this time, something’s different, the crowd is electric. It’s not just the fact that the room is packed, though that certainly helps, but it’s the fact that every single person there was SALIVATING at the prospect of catching Streetlight Manifesto on this Wednesday evening. Yes, they have school and work tomorrow, sure, some enjoyed the opening acts, but there wasn’t a soul in the room silent when hits like “Point Counterpoint” or “A Moment of Silent” get played. “Mephisto’s Café?” Yup! They’re with it.
And that’s where the magic of a show like this lies. As much as we attribute to the building, the lineup, the excellence of musicianship…it’s all for naught if the fans aren’t in it. When they come together the way they did this week, it creates the kind of experience that makes it all right if the world DOES end in a couple of weeks.
I told you I’d be back for that joke.
Streetlight Manifesto is currently on tour, for their schedule go to www.streetlightmanifesto.com. You can also keep up with the band by way of their social media pages which are found at Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Their music is in stores now and available through a variety of online servicers such as iTunes.