The Hype: If you had to pick a handful of bands that pretty much own the Glass House anytime they take the stage, Rx Bandits would undoubtedly be carved near the top of that list. On the heels of a well-deserved Coachella gig, we expected their legion of hometown fans to line up to celebrate their return. Putting their friends Zechs Marquise and Good Old War on the bill definitely sweetened the deal.
Not actually from last week's Glass House show, but this is pretty much what it looked like.
: Satisfying the crowd with choice material from their past three albums, the Bandits opened their set with "In Her Drawer." Delivering each stabbing guitar chord and thrashing drum beat with driving precision--and not a horn in sight-- it was obvious that the remnants of their third wave ska sound are a distant memory.
Instead, they've traded it for an extra helping of old-school soul, dub and Latin polyrhythms at work on new Mandala jams like "Mientras la Veo Sonar," often pairing heavy thumps from bassist Joe Troy with furious drum circles courtesy of drummer Chris Tsagakis, guitarist/keyboardist Steve Choi and Matthew Embree occasionally sitting at one of the three kits set up on stage. At one point, the band was joined by Marcel Rodriguez Lopez from Zechs Marquise who offered his impeccable chops to the party during the band's smoldering, soulful tune "Only For the Night."
Reaching back to some choice material from 2003's the Resignation, the Bandits dove full throttle into the bouncy chorus of "Dinna Dawg (And the Inevitable On Set of Lunacy)" reveling in the guttural screams, crowd surfing madness and fist pumps erupting from the crowd.
The most memorable moments occurred in total darkness towards the end of their set, when Embree asked for the the lights to be turned out. The fans responded appropriately, sparking up lighters above their heads like swarm of fire flies as the band continued with some dynamic, dub flavored detours that built up into an explosion of sound.
The band ended their first set with the surging punk energy of the politically charged tune "Bring Our Children Home Or Everything is Nothing." True to form, Embree prefaced the song by pleading with soldiers from all over the world, regardless of race, country or creed to go home to their families. It was a genuine, passionate sentiment that oozed through every second of the band's final number.
Before the band had even gotten off stage, their fans were already clamoring for an encore, which they clearly made us work for. Voices rose up in chorus singing the lyrics to the opening lines of "Untitled" from 2006's ...And the Battle Begun
as people waited for another round of songs to begin. Of course, the Bandits obliged, strutting back out to deliver another 20 minutes worth of music.
That included an epic rendition of "To Our Unborn Daughters," a thunderous ode to feminism that actually provoked a giant swarm of shirtless dudes to flail around like mad men until the band brought things to an end and stood before their fans in sheer gratitude. Though their sound has morphed quite a bit over the years, one thing that hasn't seemed to change is how much they seem to value the crowds that come out to see them. Friday night was certainly no different.
The Crowd: Fully drenched and genuinely excited near the front row, throngs of bandanna-wearing 20-somethings and tattooed rocker chicks converged with the shirtless remnants of the band's Coachella half-dressed, underage crowd.
Overheard: It was kind of hard to overhear much of anything. Everyone was too busy chanting "R-X-B! R-X-B! R-X-B!"