RX Bandits: The Bottleneck, Lawrence, KS 7/23/11

If when sitting and waiting for Maps & Atlases to start at the Bottleneck one hears someone say, “They (RX Bandits) must be good if this show was $18”, the hope can only be that the statement will not be an indication of how the night would go.   There was worry, though.  Particularly when combined with seeing the latest hipster trend—dudes wearing their hair in low buns. WTF is that? Chalk it up to generational differences I suppose. 

On July 23, RX Bandits headlined what was to be the band’s last show in Lawrence, KS on its farewell tour.  The opener, Maps and Atlases, put on a good show as usual with complicated guitar and tempo structure. There was a good amount of singing along and the show was starting to look up.  The judgment of a good show usually includes: lots of singing along, a band with members that enjoy what they’re doing on stage, and seeing the attendees turn from newbies into full-fledged fans by the end of the show.

At an RX Bandits show, one can expect some marijuana smoke mixed with a bit of liberal preaching, which for Lawrence usually isn’t a problem. And this show was no exception. As the band took the stage, wafting through came that all-too-familiar odor that can only be attributed to a freshly-plowed skunk on a state highway or the RX Bandits’ best fuel. You can figure out which it was.
The energy was amazing for a venue that easily topped 90+ degrees with lung-choking humidity and hipster armpits. The band played the familiar tracks off its latest efforts The Resignation and …and the Battle Begun, which sparked a lot of singing and jumping around. At one point in the show the band’s lead singer, Matt Embree, asked a dude up front to chill out because said dude was acting like a total drunken douchebag, crashing into everyone around him. Other than that, and a 30-second silence for the victims of last week’s Norway massacre, the show went on non-stop until the encore which ended the evening with “Only for the Night”.

It was a bit disappointing to only hear two songs from the band’s older album Progress and the many compilations and EPs the band has recorded over the years. All in all, it was a good show. Not the best from the Bandits, but the crowd was good, the venue was good, and it’s always fun reliving the glory days through yet another band that provided the soundtrack to the drunken youth of so many.

As the crowd moved toward the exit, there was a palpable twinge of sadness that it may be the last time that this crowd could see this band. There were rumors a few years ago about RX Bandits being on an “indefinite hiatus” which now has turned into yet another farewell tour, so this may not be last we see of them.

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