Scene Report

In my first post I tried to stress the importance of The Live Show in this day and age of digital downloads, dramatic message board critiques, and easily digestible music videos. And, after the show I saw last night, I think it's a point worth repeating.

I had heard of H2O a few years ago, and admired the fact they were a group of "older" guys in a punk / hardcore scene dominated by angry youth. Even when their first album came out in 1995 they were 5 to 10 years older than the average hardcore kid at shows. And they're still up and running today, touring in support of their first album in 7 years.

They played at the Middle East in Cambridge, MA last night, right around the corner from the Harmonix offices. I was stoked to finally get a chance to see them, especially in the company of Crime In Stereo and This Is Hell. But, by Sunday night, I was pretty much wiped. I had a long weekend, and had been running around all day and was pretty much dead on my feet by the time H20 took the stage around 10:30pm. I had almost left the show right after Crime In Stereo, but figured I'd tough it out for H2O. I made the right call.

For a bunch of guys pushing forty years old they worked the crowd better than groups half their age. I'm talking HIGH ENERGY all the way through the show. And I'm all for youthful enthusiasm, especially in sloppy punk music, but it was a refreshing change of pace seeing a group of guys who had put in their time, knew the rhythm of a performance, and had the polish of a (*gasp*) professional live show.

Toby, the 38 year old lead singer of H2O, made the stage look like it was three times bigger than it actually was. Running from side to side, back and forth, from friends at the side of the stage to the kids piled up at the front, he was everywhere. And he pulled it off with an intensity that made me feel old and ashamed for being so tuckered out after a long day of socializing.

Their set was a real shot in the arm, and it woke me right up. The crowd reaction was amazing, and there was no shortage of pile ons or sing alongs at the front of the stage. Even the songs from the new album, which had only been out for a week or so, got kids up and moving. It was one of those great moments where you feel like everyone really wanted to be there, united by a common interest in something more than the band on stage... something to do with the music, the message, the energy.

The in between song banter was an endless lists of shout outs and respect for their fans, friends, fellow bands, crews, and labels. Everyone got a shout out, from their friends in the Gorilla Biscuits, to local heroes the Dropkick Murhpys, Bridge 9 Records for putting out their new album, Madball for lending them a van for this tour, the Boston Celtics for squeaking past the Pistons, and finally their entire Boston Hardcore Family.

H2O is a New York band, classic NYC all the way, but it felt like they were locals. When you play that well, when the band is really on, and the crowd is still getting into it and calling out for more at the end of the show... you can't match that. That's something you can't touch with a pristine studio recording, or with a stolen MP3, or that rare tour tshirt you shelled out the big bucks for, or with the day after criticisms and nitpicking by amateur bloggers. There's something special about feeling that kind of connection being in the same room with a band that's making something important happen. You go from being a listener to being an active participant in the energy.

H2O has that energy. Buy one of their CDs if you've never heard of them. If you've heard their older stuff you should pick up the new CD (it doesn't disappoint). And above all, go out of your way to check them out on tour. They put on one hell of a show. H2O GO!