Let me start this post off by saying that I intentionally did not plan this trip at all to force myself to rely on my wits, follow my heart, and meet more people. That being said, I showed up in Tempe knowing that RxB were playing a show in the city that night, but that’s it. I had no idea where they were playing, what time the show started, and I didn’t have a ticket. After consulting a man working at a liquor store and some shady looking kids hanging out at a bus stop, I found my way to the Marquee Theater at 4:30 pm and bought my ticket for $23. Wow, that was easy…
As I was purchasing my ticket, RxB were doing their soundcheck, so I got to sit in the shade and listen to them rip through a couple of songs from Progress and do some killer jams. The show didn’t start for another couple of hours, so I made myself a sandwich and walked down by the river to wash my feet and cool off. On my way back up the stairs to the parking lot, I met a really nice couple named Mitch and Caroline. When I told Mitch about my trip, he immediately invited me to crash at his place in downtown Tempe after the show, depsite the fact that he wasn’t sure that he was even going to be able to get in to the show.
Later on, I got a text from Matt offering me a free ticket to the show (I was on the guestlist +1), so I sold Mitch and Caroline two tickets for $20. Yep, I spent $3 on a show and a spot to crash. Bam.
During the opening bands, I met a beautiful woman named Sherrie who drove up the 2 hours from Tucson, despite the fact that she had to work in the morning and had to be up at 6 am. We got to hang out and chat throughout the show, and we hung out until about 1:30 am down by the river, chatting about music and life in general. I’m pretty sure she was hanging out mostly so that she could meet Matt (which never happened because the security guards at the Marquee were assholes and cleared the parking lot out within a half hour of the show), but regardless, we got some really good conversation in :)
As for the show itself, the music was fantastic! Happy Body Slow Brain is this fantastic ambient/mathy band from Northern Cal, and Maps and Atlases were fantastic. As for the Bandits, they absoloutely killed it. They played the first, second and last track from Progress, Resignation, ATBB and Mandala and, if memory serves, they did Infection, Overcome, Only for the Night and To Our Unborn Daughters for their encore. There was a lot of positive energy coming from the stage.
The crowd in Tempe, however, was a different story. The Bandits are the best band around at consciously creating a beautiful and positive vibe with their music. When the crowd is open and accepts/resonates with that energy, it’s a beautiful thing. Unfortunately, there was an energetic wall put up by the crowd, and the vibe was very un RxB like. Lots of people pushing, very few people dancing, and I can’t believe how many guys I saw feeling up on unwilling girls who didn’t know how to tell them to stop. At one point, I even saw a guy in dreads, who was clearly way too fucked up, feeling up on this girl. Every time he would go for a boob grab or try to kiss her, she would push him away and try to get him to dance. At one point, I even saw the dude reach his hand down between her legs. When she pushed him away after that, I danced over in between them and asked the girl if she needed any help with the dude who was being inappropriate. Her response was probably the most apalling thing about the whole situation. She said “oh, no, he is a friend, he knows when to stop” ……
Needless to say, it continued for most of the show, but what can I do? Is the rape culture so strong in Tempe that this is normal?? What exactly was the dude expecting? For her to drop to her knees and blow in him in crowd during the show? Is that the end game there? I really don’t get it. Ladies, don’t put up with that shit. ESPECIALLY at an Rx Bandits show, who are one of the few bands out there who are consciously trying to change that culture. I sincerely hope that the crowds in the upcoming cities will open their hearts and let RxB fill it with the love, respect and positivity that the band offers every single night.
Here’s to dancing replacing pushing and to symbiotic love vanquishing unidirectionally motivated heavy petting. In the eternal words of Matt Embree, “the positive will always overcome the negative.” Right?