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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Live Review: Singer Shawn Harris Stage-Dove the Shit out of The Matches' Show at the Fillmore Last Night

Posted By on Tue, Dec 29, 2015 at 2:00 PM

click to enlarge MIKE CHOUINARD
  • Mike Chouinard

The Matches
@ The Fillmore
December 28, 2015

"This one's for L3. Hey, be nice to each other — we're all 30."

Shawn Harris, the singer for The Matches, is addressing a crowd of mostly 30-somethings who are crowd surfing on a Monday night at The Fillmore. I don't mean one or two were lucky and brave enough to be hoisted on-stage by stranger's hands — it looked like at least 30 to 40 fans were being propelled onto the stage, whereupon they danced with the band a little before being ushered quickly away by security.

The Matches are a hometown Oakland band who picked up popularity in the early aughts before getting signed to Epitaph Records. They would book and promote local bands in Oakland's now defunct iMusicast, a youth community warehouse that would live stream shows and teach kids about band promotion and production. Their slogan and pithy mission statement, L3, stands for "Live, loud, and local." After the band amicably broke up in 2009, there was a reunion show in 2014 at The Fillmore which led to a tour of nine sold-out shows in the U.S. and a tour in Australia. Last night's show (and the show before it on Sunday), was further evidence that The Matches might be reuniting, although there was no definite indication that that was the case.

The support for those two nights, That Lying Bitch (members of Plain White T's) and Finish Ticket, were partially brought up in the scene that The Matches fostered. During Finish Ticket's set, their lead singer Brendan Hoye would stop in between every song to gush about The Matches. "They did so many great things for the music community here in the Bay Area," said Hoye. "I was a little young when it was all going down...They brought together so many different bands and different sounds." He let us know that The Matches' lead guitarist Jonathan Devoto used to drum for Finish Ticket before they found Gabe Stein. They closed out their own set with a thunderous rendition of "Bring The Rain" that had Hoye stalking the stage like a cagey wolf.
It's rare to get a VIP pass when you're on the press list for a show, so when one was handed to me at will call I had no idea where it would lead. After Finish Ticket's set I decided to investigate. I asked a security guard on the ground level and, after he tried to decipher the color of my badge, he let me pass a curtain where I immediately ran into Finish Ticket packing up their gear. I darted up a stairway and realized I had accidentally snuck backstage. Whoops. A huge case of impostor syndrome immediately hit, so I slipped away 10 minutes later. A few minutes before a show is not the right time for press to get in the way.

Shawn Harris of the The Matches began the set wedged between fans in the middle of the audience before crowd surfing up to the stage. Throughout the night, Harris stage dived and crowd surfed on a continual basis. A sound tech held his mic cable from the edge of the stage, fed him line, and eventually fished him back from the masses of hands.

The Matches started their set with one of their newest songs, "Life of a Match" and then moved onto "Jack Slap Cheer" off of their 2004 release E. Von Dahl Killed The Locals. While Harris was crowd surfing, a mosh pit opened up in the middle of the room instead of the front to give him space. I was worried that the audience's enthusiasm would noticeably swell and ebb when newer material was played, but, aside from a few moments of chatter during slower songs, that didn't seem to be the case.
During "Audio Blood," a nearby friend motioned for me to kneel. I looked around and the entire audience was crouching without any verbal signal from a band member. We did this while the lyrics "this is how we bleed and not go" were whispered. Some of the bands who were a part of the L3 movement were in the audience: I the Mighty, Dizzy Balloon, The Soft White Sixties. The entirety of Finish Ticket decided to crowd surf on-stage a few times, and pulled out a few air guitar moves. Yes, it was dorky. But it was also sweet.

Encores get on my nerves. Not because I don't want to hear two or three more songs, but because of the predictable tradition of it all. It's almost embarrassing if the headliner doesn't get called back out. So when The Matches were begged for a second encore and they came through with "Sick Little Suicide," I was impressed. During the first encore, security threw tortilla chips at the audience and everywhere on the stage, as a sort of cheeky nacho homage to when many of The Matches members worked at The Fillmore. After "Sick Little Suicide," a sound tech swooped each mic to let the audience know it was finally time to head home.
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Valerie Veteto


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