Wow. 09/09/10 is a night I will never forget. The night I saw Australian band, The On Fires, play at Rye Bar in Athens, GA. A night that almost didn't happen...but thankfully did.
This isn't just a review of music. This is a story of commitment, passion, and reward. Theirs and mine.
After a long day of work, and an hour commute to Athens, I was absolutely ready to see them perform. (For those who followed my tweets and tumblr-ing that night, I had posted notes & pics in real time trying to incorporate new features to this site.) I arrived early, and ended up still waiting well past when the doors should've opened. But for whatever reason, they weren't. I met up with other friends elsewhere for awhile, and then asked my boyfriend to drive us back around 10, just in case they were still playing...
Thank God! We had arrived in the middle of sound check, and they were about to start soon. BTW, though we still don't know why the place opened late, let me note that the band was not at fault. I saw the drummer show up earlier (just didn't realize at the time that's who he was) and leave when the door was still locked. OK. Enough about that...
After a few min. of listening to sound check, Max Harman, the fiery redhead female in the band introduced herself to me and we chatted for a bit before the show. Already, I was glad I took the chance of returning to the venue. I discovered that Max and Marty Xennoff, the male vocals and guitarist who rocks an awesome beard, founded The On Fires, in Melbourne, Australia. Brothers, Kent (drums) and Kevin Aberle (bass) are local Georgia musicians, and had just performed with The On Fires' in ATL.
While talking with Max, I also learned that the performance is only a portion of the whole process...though it is the reward of all efforts. There is A LOT of work that goes into making that moment happen. Not just the practices and songwriting and creative aspects of a show...but, the logistics of setting up a tour - including travel, accomodations, and booking. I could certainly appreciate their passion and dedication. They are artists who live and breathe their craft in true creative fashion. I felt a mutual respect, and shared understanding, as I compared the similarities to my own experiences that night.
"Marty and I formed The On Fires in 2003. This band is almost like a child, in that there is so much time and expense that is put into it's growth." - MaxSoon after, they went into their set and I was blown away. I was already impressed with what I'd heard from their album, Betrayer. But seeing & hearing them perform LIVE was a really enhanced experience! I was still surprised that the Aberle brothers were only playing the local shows of the Kangaroo Punk Tour. The group dynamic was so awesome!
After the first set, the band interacted with the fans in the audience. At different intervals, I got one-on-one conversations with Max, Marty, and Kent (I didn't get a chance to talk too much to Kevin). It was clear to me the reason why their group dynamic was so great. The shared passion and commitment was felt during our chats, as well as expressed in their performances. Max shared stories with me of some of the adventures she and Marty have had with this band.
"The rewards are so magnificent. We played amazing places like Ukraine, Pacific Islands, and even a random 90th birthday party in Poland!" (They were invited by some people Marty met on their night off.) - MaxThe On Fires were asked to play a second set, and despite me having the commute back home and a day job to go to in less than 7 hours, I toughed it out and stayed for the second set. Again, so glad I did! New people in the audience had come in to check them out...and they STILL rocked the set hard...maybe even harder. Marty's guitar solo during "Without" was INSANE the second time around. Stepping away from the stage area, full of passion as he writhed on the floor... and closing out the song with a hell of a riveting performance. I tried to capture the footage as best as I could with my Blackberry and very dim lighting... but in the last few minutes of the song you can still see what I'm talking about. Watch the videos HERE.
Believe me, I could still go on and on about how amazing they are. It was challenging for me to keep video footage steady, take photos, and stop for an occasional note taking for this review, because all I wanted to do was jump around all crazy and sing along with some of my favorite songs! (Don't worry, I did get the opportunity to do this a few times!) Instead, I hope that what I've shared has already convinced you of that.
I recommend experiencing The On Fires for yourself. Discover them HERE. Check out their website www.theonfires.com to learn more about the band and hear their music. If you can, go catch one of their shows on the remaining dates of the Kangaroo Punk Tour.
Sep 18 2010 9:00P Binghamton University, Union Building Vestal, NY
Sep 21 2010 9:00P Lucky 7 Tavern Jersey City, NJ
Sep 22 2010 11:00P Arlene's Grocery Store New York, N.Y.
Sep 23 2010 9:00P The Dover Brick House Dover, NH
Sep 24 2010 8:00P Milly's Tavern Manchester, NH
Sep 30 2010 9:00P Castaways Ithaca, NY
Oct 1 2010 6:00P Crocodile Rock Cafe Allentown, PA
Oct 2 2010 11:00P All Asia Cambridge, MA
Oct 3 2010 7:00P THE SAINT Asbury Park, NJ
I left that night feeling like I had just made friends for life. I can't wait until they come back to the US next year. Until then, I've got an unforgettable night full of memories to keep me until next time.
Oh, yeah...and make sure to come back soon and check out the photo gallery HERE.