Kicks Off With A Bang
Usually, bands who are heading into the twilight of their association either save the best for last, or screw the last few gigs up just to get it over and done with. If this is 3against1’s way of starting their farewell run, then I can’t wait for June 30th! Well, yes I can; anything to prolong and delay the inevitable is just fine by me. After a seven-year run, over which the band has seen two drummers and bass players take their turns under the lights, San Diego ’s own 3against1 has decided to end their tenure on a high note. No, there was no internal conflict or animosity that tore the band to shreds, nor was a band member hiding in the closet like in Judas Priest (that we know of). According to founding members Arnaud Lemaire and Mark Weiss, it simply was just time to say farewell for now. Personal priorities and the desire to explore other things in life was the collective reason given. I hesitate to use the word goodbye, for that signifies a clear-cut finality, from which there is no return. There’s always a chance to return in the future.
Even though this performance signaled the beginning of the end run, it’s not in 3against1’s nature to go into the set and turn out a half-assed show. It doesn’t matter if there’s ten people or a thousand people in the audience, 3against1 always gives it everything they’ve got, and not even technical problems or idiot sound techs stand in the way of them doing what they do best. But, out of the ashes of despair and heartache comes retribution and vindication. In this smaller setting, in a room with no interference for the sound to bounce off of, 3against1’s sound and tone has never sounded bigger or ballsier. That significant tone change was a direct result of a family member, Arnaud’s prized custom Les Paul, being stolen from the Key Club’s parking lot on April 17th. Sporting a burst-colored Les Paul, all of the songs in this set took on a fuller and darker overtone, with a richer, resonant texture, almost as if the different Les Pauls have their own personality, enhanced by the style of its owner. Add in a Line 6 amplifier head, and you have the makings of a signature tone that will be forever imitated, but never duplicated.
Kicking off the night with “Broken”, the faithful were, as always, front stage and center. Always a welcome starter, 3against1 rocks this song the hardest, as it is their signature song. Mark’s vocals were beyond spot-on: His range really hit the sweet spot about five seconds in, and just simply stayed there the entire set. He even recited the spoken-word portion of the song, something he’s been doing as of late, much to the delight of one Pamela Brumley, whose favorite song is this one. “Following “Broken” was “Weight Of The World” and “Believe”, two songs that really stretch Mark’s vocals to the maximum normally, and even more so when his throat is not all there. Not so this time! The long, held notes during “Weight” and the soaring verses of “Believe” sounded, in a word, perfect: This live set should have been taped for posterity and released as a “Best Of” compilation, for this set was the end-all, be-all set!
Much to my surprise, the next song is one that I’ve been waiting to hear live once more: “S & M Queen”, one of the few songs that has survived since the beginning. Previously unreleased in LA, I’m one of the few fortunate ones to actually have a copy of this song, and to hear it live is sheer aural pleasure. Slight deviances from the studio version make it an entirely different song nowadays, and with stellar backing vocals provided by Ryan Gonzalez, it takes on a less edgy tone live and has developed into a more sensual (sorry, that’s the best word I can come up with) song while not losing any fire or bite.
“So Tell Me” kicked the party into overdrive with its double-time feel and sustained vocals. As any one of us knows, it is damn hard to hold a single note for any duration, but Mark did so with nary a strain in his voice or a hair out of place. A defining 3against1 rocker, it makes me smile to see all four of the guys perform this song because I know that this song is just as much fun for them as it is for us. Following this song was “A Day In The Life”, a sordid romp into the life of a wannabe porno chick, complete with riches, Hollywood power, Vaseline, and gasoline! If you have to ask, then you just need to get a demo CD with this song, because I’m not explaining it to you! Besides, there are some things just better left unsaid…
With generous use of the Morley wah pedal, Arnaud powers out the chords to “My Life” while Mark breaks in with a lead line or two on the Schecter. The de facto favorite song of Ryan (can you say bass solo boys and girls?), “My Life” is probably what Mark feels every time he steps on stage and faces all of us night after night. If I had fans like 3against1’s for my writing, I wouldn’t believe it was my life, either. Oh wait: All of my review-writing fans ARE 3against1 fans! What a fucking shocker that is!
“Dirt Rocker” must be a throwback to how the boys started out, because there’s no polish or campy lyrics to this one. Living up to the title with a raw and blistering pace fueled by overheated, distorted amp tubes, “Dirt Rocker” was definitely one of the surprise songs when it debuted a few months ago, and it has perennially stayed in the set list since then (except for a few shows that got skewered). Still don’t know the lyrics, but I still like the song way too much. Need a copy guys!
Ending the longer-than normal set were two more favorites, “My Machine”, a song that probably is about a girl I dated one time, or maybe a relative of mine (NO, not you Ria!), and the appropriately (inappropriately to us) titled, “It’s Over”. Now this song really has a heavy, sad feeling to it, because we all know the end is coming, but the prospect of not having future 3against1 gigs to go to is a downright shitty feeling. I mean, who else am I going to write about with so much zest and fervor?
Not to brag or anything, but I think I’m one of the few who knows 3against1’s music from a musician’s point of view, not just as a concert-goer. Their music is something that has gotten in me as much as it is in all of them, and it speaks to me in a way like no other music has before.
So, with that said, I’ll state for the record that even though 3against1 may be gone after June 30th, their music will live on forever in the hearts and minds of the many fans who have been captured by their music and personal accessibility. As one of their biggest fans and supporters, I will see to it that the spirit and the music lives on until the day new 3against1 music is made.
See each and every one of you on June 27th and 30th. Until then, grab that CD and blast it as loud as you can at home and in the car!
-- Rockin' Jay