The Last Great Band (Part 1)

Skin and Bones magazine issue 9 volume 6

Let the Fun Begin

The amphitheater was alive with the sound of music. The fans were more than pumped and ready to go for the first band of the evening. The up and coming band Plath opened the concert nicely, driving the 15,000 plus fans to start a miniature black hole of a mosh pit. Person after person backstage commented it takes balls to be in there. “You will come out a bloody and bruised mess,” Vicki West of Plath predicted before the show, and she was more than right. The pit was quite large for an opening band, but there were still a lot of fans waiting for the Virgin Suicides to come on the stage before they joined in on the black hole. Most if not all of these fans waiting on the sides wear shirts that signify they are only here for one thing. These hardcore fans are known as the Suicide Squad. The SS wait patiently for the Virgin Suicides to come on watching over the others as though they are an elite military guard. “They sit there waiting because once we come on heads are going to roll. They know this so they save their energy for when they are going to need it. Everyone calls the pit a black hole, but I like to call it the red ring of carnage and mayhem. The last place I would ever want to be is in there with them,” Beatrix of the Virgin Suicides told me. Many of these fans travel from all over the country and even the world. Some are even known to follow the band for whole tours no matter how long or how far. Today is unique in that today is all about them. Tickets for this show were limited to “true” fans only. A selection process that not even the press was allowed access to. To say this isn’t a show for the fans would be a lie. Just looking around one can understand just how much these fans love the band. One fan, in particular, Matt “Skin” Larson, traveled all the way from Chicago to see the band tonight. I asked him before the show why he would travel so far to see one band? “This is the greatest band to ever walk the face of the earth. They are not only the voice of our generation but of life itself.” Strong words from a super fan all of twenty-one years old. However, he was not alone in his thoughts about the band. Many fans from the age of eighteen to even forty-five years old said much of the same. This band runs deep in the hearts of many of these fans. The concert seems more and more like a gathering than a show the longer I stand back and watch.

Despite the venue being packed with Virgin Suicides fans they still warmed up nicely to Plath that night. Plath finished their set with their hit song “Into the Wild.” After a short instrument switch, the band Red Blood Stain Parade amped up the carnage even further. I watched as the pit began to grow to an unruly size. More dangerous and larger the pit moved to a soundtrack provided by a band of misfits from all over the United States. RBSP may be from all over, but they met here in Los Angeles almost a decade ago. They are currently touring in support of their fourth album. Though they have been around for a while now they hadn’t started to make much of an impact on the music scene. That was until they took a little know band as an opening act four years ago. That band was the Virgin Suicides, and by the end of their first tour, they went from being openers to being co-headliners. Since then RBSP has toured a lot with the Virgin Suicides forming a friendship out of a situation most people wouldn’t have. The lead singer of RBSP Ari Stain spoke with me about that friendship.

Skin and Bones: How was it to watch the opening band go from opening to closing on that first tour?

Ari Stain: Strange very, very strange. Unheard of, but really you would have had to see the reaction to the crowd on the first five or six shows to truly understand. I’ve never seen anything like it. Even when we go out on tour with other bands there is still never anything like it. Our band has great fans and I love them, but their fans are die hard, to say the least. The strangest thing about VS is that they are able to turn a crowd in as little as two songs. I know when it first started happening I was pissed, but who wouldn’t be? Luckily though the members of the band are just too cool of human beings to really be pissed at.

Skin and Bones: The band says that Red Blood Stain Parade is a huge influence on them as a band. How do you feel about that?

Ari Stain: They say that all the time. (Smile) But I think in actuality they influence us way more. Every band out there is trying to capture lightning in a bottle, but for them, it is as the lighting goes directly to them. The band is so amazing and it has been more than a blessing to be able to spend these past few years touring together. They can say what they want and I don’t doubt for a second that they aren’t being honest, but honestly, we are just trying to ride the lightning with them.

Due to the amount of touring these two bands have done together many members of the Suicide Squad have joined the pit than for Plath. RBSP packed many of their hits into their forty-five minute set including “Death is Being On the Radio,” “A Cross,” and their major hit “Laptop Diaries.” Nearly every voice in the venue provided the backing vocals for their major hit. It was an impressive thing to hear that night in the amphitheater. It wasn’t until the intermission between RBSP and the Virgin Suicides though that I noticed how much blood was on the floor. It was as though a war was taking place right in front of the stage. Despite the carnage, I felt a slight jealous that I too was not down there with them. Especially now that the Suicides were coming on stage next.

Security rushed in with towels and rubber gloves to clean up as much blood as possible before the Virgin Suicides came on. With the lights on I could see the fans with bloody noses, swollen eyes, and one fan in a white t-shirt was covered in so much blood he looked as if he was a victim of a murder scene. After he took his shirt off and threw it on the floor I realized he was fine other than what I am guessing was a broken nose. His shirt was picked up by a figure dressed completely in black with no markings. If it wasn’t for the lights I’m not sure I would have even noticed the figure. To this day I’m not even sure what I saw. The figure walked back to the side of the stage and took all the towels from security. Clive Godard told me they pass out free waters to the fans for safety reasons more than anything. He also recalled times that this act of generosity has backfired in the form of half-drunken bottles to the face. “I don’t get why they do it, but it’s really nothing more than a death wish. One concert I saw a bottle thrower get their ass beaten by the Squad so bad that we had to stop the show to get him out of there. Since then there has been a whole hell of a lot fewer bottles being thrown, but there’s always one or two assholes in the crowd,” he smiled as though that this was normal. This particular incident turned out to be less than normal for any band. The bottle thrower was never identified nor was he ever seen again. A myth or a legend has grown to an epic level. Mysterious such as the lost bottle thrower, the burning down of multiple hotel rooms, and rumors human sacrifice have followed the band since the early days. This assignment was offered to many other writers, but no one was brave enough to take it. I’m beginning to understand what they mean. There are quite a few ambulances on hand for the concert. Korbin told me, “The fans can get a little crazy. We like them to be as safe as possible, but for some the music can make them go rather insane. Most people not looking to have their face rearranged hang out in the back. Beatrix calls them the Flower Children as a joke, but it has caught on and now they are a subgroup of the Squad.” For a nickname like the Flower Children, there are a surprising amount of men. It seems the name is not reflective of the individuals themselves, but rather something else. All dressed in black and holding orchids they begin to get anxious like the rest of us. It doesn’t take long for the Virgin’s roadies to switch out RBSP’s equipment for their own. As the last roadie exits the stage the lights go out all around us. Out of the darkness, a red glow begins at the stage.

 

End Part 1… Tomorrow Part 2… Don’t worry… No twists this time around… I promise… ; )

Thanks for checking out my long ass story… Hope to see you all tomorrow…

5 thoughts on “The Last Great Band (Part 1)”

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