Words/Photos/Videos by Reverend Justito/concertconfessions.com
I was one of the lucky ones. December 1997: I went to see Deftones at The Edge in Palo Alto, CA. While Deftones were nothing short of amazing, the true reward of that night was being introduced to the band Far. In the weeks that followed that show, I picked up “Water & Solutions” and it has been in heavy rotation ever since. Like most Far fans, I grew angry over the last decade as countless bands got minor radio success with their bastardization of the Lopez/Matranga sound. Naturally, I was thrilled when the Sacramento four piece announced they were reuniting. After a brief taste of the live Far experience last fall, nothing was going to keep me away from seeing the band support their new record At Night We Live. With the clock reading ten past nine on the third Friday in May, I hopped into my beautiful golden rental car (Kia Rio for you auto enthusiasts) and ventured east to The Troubadour, ready to rock with the post-hardcore/pre-emo Godfathers of Screamo.
The band kicked off their set around 10:30 pm with a new number called “Fight Song #16,233,241.” With a really punchy guitar riff from Shaun Lopez, the song is a natural opener and set things off in the right direction. The band ensured the crowd’s attention by following with a few fan favorites. The rather mellow “I Like It” allowed both the band and the crowd to warm up and sink into the evening. Reaching back to 1996, “Seasick” was one of the highlights of the night. I realize many Far fans are obsessed with front-man Jonah Mantranga, but my attraction to Far lies with guitarist Shaun Lopez. His mix of heavy riffs and lush melodies are nothing short of amazing. The riffs that make up the verses of “Seasick” serve as a fine example of Lopez’ craft.
With the release of At Night We Live less than a week away, the band performed plenty of new material. “Dear Enemy” is an unapologetic drop-D rock and roll song. Had their been a pit, this is the type of song that could cause the circle to swell upwards of three times its average size. Before launching into “Deafening”, Mantranga paid tribute to the late great Ronnie James Dio by sharing a tale of an intimate Sacramento club gig. I hate to say it, but “Deafening” is perfect for rock radio such as KROQ (who sponsored the show despite not playing the song). Undoubtedly, the best song on At Night We Live is the title track. The vulnerability of Matrangas voice as he sings the tribute to Deftones bassist Chi Cheng undoubtedly made the entire crowd’s arm hair raise simultaneously. Most importantly, despite the fact the album has not even hit store shelves, there was not a single person in the audience not singing along to the powerful chorus.
While new material got a great reaction from the enthusiastic Friday-night, near capacity crowd, the response to the classics was nothing short of massive. “Joining The Circus” was dedicated to Los Angeles, while “The System” simply rocked. I always think back to the 1998 Family Values tour and the parking lot of the Cow Palace covered with promos for Far’s big hit “Mother Mary.” Hearing the band play it at The Troubadour some 11 1/2 years later just didn’t seem real. My personal highlight for the evening was the Water & Solutions masterpiece — “Man Overboard.” The anti-climatic build up leads right into my favorite Lopez riff of all time.
The biggest reaction of the night was for the show closing “Bury White.” When it comes down to it, this song is the blueprint for the last 10 years of mainstream rock music. Before the Far reunion, I always assumed the band would return bigger than ever. Personally, I was disappointed that the show was not sold out. In my book, Far are ground-breakers and deserve much more praise then other 90’s bands who have recently reunited. Those lucky enough to be inside the Troubadour on the third Friday in May, 2010 know they saw something truly special. I can only hope At Night We Live gets the band the respect they rightfully deserve.
A direct descendant of the outlaw Jesse James and star of a 1983 Kilpatricks Bread radio commercial, Reverend Justito has taken his gift of ADHD and put it to good use by creating one of a kind concert reviews. A bootlegger at heart, the man lives off Whiskey, Taco Bell and the love of San Francisco sports teams.