“When you’re here, you’re family. Just like the Olive Garden. We’ll be selling breadsticks at our merch table.” This was just an example of one of the most notable sentences coming out of Kevin Bivona’s mouth that evening. Bivona, the guitarist of the ska-punk band The Interrupters, was full of hilariously entertaining comments and musicality.
I am obviously getting ahead of myself though. Let’s start from the beginning.
I got bored strolling around Santa Barbara, so I decided to head down to the venue and wait in line. Around seven p.m., the employees at Velvet Jones started letting radio contest winners in to meet the band. Unexpectedly, one of the employees pointed to me, the person in front of me, and the one behind me. He said that we would be meeting the band as well! I was completely shocked because these kinds of things do not just happen to me. The interaction was brief, but they were all very kind.
The Velvet Jones is an intimate venue; one that I have been to plenty of times. As soon as you enter, to the left, there is a staircase leading up to the second level. This second level usually contains merch tables, as well as concert-goers who do not want to get caught in the crowd. Once you walk past all of that, you find yourself at another staircase; this one leads downstairs, within small proximity of the bar. The bar was wrapped around the side of the wall, and there were circular tables and a few padded benches across the way. The pit area was divided in two by a short wall, and I placed myself to the side of the stage, within close range of the restrooms and backstage.
Bar Stool Preachers
The Bar Stool Preachers (T.J. McFaull – vocalist/some guitar, Bungle Preacher – bassist, Alex Whibley – drummer, James Tetley – lead guitarist, Tom Gibbs – rhythm guitarist, and Alex D. Hay – keyboardist) were the second band to take the stage. I had anticipated seeing them, since I had I always heard wonderful things about them. Those people were not wrong; they were absolutely incredible.
I looked out into the crowd, and not a single person was standing still. Not a single person looked less than elated. I loved how energetic and fun the Bar Stool Preachers were, and how heartfelt and catchy their tunes were. The song “Trickledown” (off of the record Blatant Propaganda) immediately caught my attention. I also found myself singing their song “Barstool Preacher” (also off of Blatant Propaganda) incessantly for the next week and a half. I highly recommend that anyone and everyone check out these ska-punk men from England.
Bedouin Soundclash took the stage immediately after The Bar Stool Preachers. I had heard of this band, but could not recall ever hearing any of their songs or albums. The band consisted of Jay Malinowski (vocalist/guitarist), Eon Sinclair (bassist), Chuck Treece (drummer), and Sheena Ko (keyboardist).
They were enjoyable; I got a somewhat mellow, yet danceable vibe from this band. I feel like they fit the theme of the tour, and that the crowd enjoyed them as well. Sheenah Ko, their current keyboardist, kept my attention during most of the set. I watched closely as she gracefully played the keys, tapped her pedals, tapped her other foot along to the beat, and smiled throughout the whole set. She was certainly memorable, and kept my spirits up as I anticipated the next song to come.
The Interrupters - comprised of Kevin Bivona (guitarist), his younger brothers, Jesse Bivona (drummer) and Justin Bivona (bassist), and lead singer, Aimee Interrupter (vocalist) - are at the top of their game. With their stylish Fred Perry attire, slick dance moves, and crisp vocals, it is no wonder that they are becoming more popular with each day that passes.
The Interrupters played a seemingly infinite set, with a mixture of songs off of their three records (S/T, Say it out Loud, and Fight the Good Fight). “She’s Kerosene” and “Take Back the Power” received the most excitement from the audience, which was not surprising. I love the fan-band interaction that happens at every Interrupters show. Aimee will lean out into the crowd and attempt to shake every single person’s hand.
The Interrupters opened with “A Friend like Me”, off of their self-titled debut. The first chunk of songs that followed were “By my Side” (Say it Out Loud), “She’s Kerosene” (Fight the Good Fight), “Take Back the Power” (S/T), “She got Arrested” (Say it Out Loud), “I Gave you Everything” (FTGF), “Jenny Drinks” (SIOL), “Title Holder” (FTGF), and “Good Things” (SIOL).
In the middle of their set, they played “Sound System”, made famous by the legendary band, Operation Ivy. At this point in the show, Kevin likes to mess with the audience, playing other well-known guitar riffs by other bands, such as “Smells like Teen Spirit” (by Nirvana), or “When I Come Around” (by Green Day). Justin even belts out a verse during their cover.
The next chunk of songs were “White Noise” (S/T), “Broken World” (FTGF), “Easy on You” (S/T), and “Babylon” (SIOL), before ripping into their song “Loyal” (SIOL), which was not on the original setlist.
The last few songs were “Leap of Faith” (FTGF), “Valley” (SIOL), “Divide Us” (SIOL), “Turntable” (SIOL), and “Got Each Other” (FTGF). Before belting out their closer, “Family”, a collaboration with Tim Armstrong (who was sadly absent), The Interrupters reminisced back to the song “A Friend like Me.” The audience sang along to the chorus, as the band members intertwined themselves with one another, swaying back and forth. Kevin then stated that we are “out of the friend zone”, followed by Aimee shouting “welcome to the family!”
The Interrupters played a total of twenty-one songs, with the highest count (nine) being from Say it Out Loud. I was surprised that they did not play more songs off of Fight the Good Fight, considering it was their latest release. They will start a Fight the Good Fight tour in February 2019, with support from bands Rat Boy and Masked Intruder.
I was worn out by the end of the show; I had not stopped moving since The Bar Stool Preachers took the stage. I was also lucky enough to obtain a guitar pick and setlist.
I do not know a single person who dislikes The Interrupters. With their cheery demeanors, welcoming attitude, and family-driven themes (not to mention their amazing stage presence and enormous hearts and talent), it is no wonder that The Interrupters have gained such a large following in such a short amount of time.
The Interrupters have been featured on numerous radio stations, sold out every show on this particular tour, and even performed “She’s Kerosene” on Jimmy Kimmel Live! I always love seeing The Interrupters. There is never a bad vibe in the room, everyone is always in good spirits, and everyone is just there to have fun. I have also noticed that a lot more children attend their shows, which is an amazing thing to experience. The hardships that you might have faced prior to the show, or the differences you share with one another - all of those minor details are washed away at an Interrupters show. You will feel as though you have entered a safe space, where you are supported and welcomed by all. By the end of the set, everyone will definitely feel as though they are part of their “one crazy family.”