Then the A-OKs came on, and holy fuck! A-OKs’ wild, raw, unfiltered energy put the whole venue into frenzy. They played loud, they played fast, they played hard and didn’t let a second of their performance go to waste. So many times I had the gratification of lead singer Mark Swan hovering over me while standing on the PA speaker, admiring the agility of guitarist Justin Cantrell’s finger-work on the fret board, and enjoying Matt Sanchez jumping into the pit while still playing the trombone—going right out the door of the venue, getting the people outside to start dancing. So far, the show had a steady incline of madness with each band giving unhinged energy in their sets, and I was expecting nothing less than awesomeness from Be Like Max.
Be Like Max set the energy levels to an all time high when they came on. Kicking off their set with the brand new “Bring on the Suits,” the crowd erupted into the biggest circle pit of the night and I found myself face to face with lead singer Charley Fine screaming into the mic “Hey! Bring on the suits!” They continued to entice the audience by giving ode to the opening bands—Fine said that Anchorage was one of the most underrated bands in SLC and that he loves the A-OKs more than his own sandwich if he hadn’t eaten all day. Between all of the foul language, dirty humor, onstage insults and demands for circle pits, Fine started to debate about doing a stage dive during “Hand Me a Beer.” It was a heavy decision because even though the venue had twice as many people then at the beginning of the show, it was still might not have been enough to hold him up. Instead, he sent pint-sized sax player Gian-Luigi Malasarte to dive instead and, wouldn’t you know it, the crowd caught him, kept him up for a few minutes, and landed him safely on the stage. They then closed their set with another new track, “Local Band,” where Fine stood high on the PA speaker, sharing the mic with some enthusiastic audience members.
So, after four ska bands that raised the intensity to towering levels, it was natural that the next band would try to raise them even more, right? Wrong! Show Me Island came onto the stage to finish up the show and put the vibe in a mellower mood. There was still a lot of dancing, though it wasn’t as rough as it was with the previous bands, but Show Me Island managed calm things down with their smooth musical tone and were still just as enticing. That is until their last song—the whole fuckin’ place was bouncing … literally! It was an even mix of pogo dancing, skanking, and one hell of a circle pit—quite a way to top off an already badass show. So, thinking back to my pre-show anticipation of what to expect from this concert, I’d say it heavily exceeded my expectations. The show gradually got crazier with every band and managed bring the mood to a more tranquil state towards the end, then kicked right back into madness in one fell swoop.