This week has been a busy one for Bay Area concerts with many Coachella bands making west coast appearances in between their weekends in the desert. Tuesday night found Title Fight at Oakland’s Metro Operahouse joined by Hop Along and Waxahatchee for a raucous night.
For those that didn’t check out the opening bands (Hop Along, Waxahatchee) ahead of time … both shoe-gazers with a dose of doom in the case of Waxahatchee … they may have stopped to take a second glance at their ticket stub to make sure they were at the right show. But while was not a lot in common with the headliner the crowd was nevertheless calm, patient and appreciative as they waited for the chaos ahead.
The folks in the line out front that never seemed to get any shorter were here for something else … Title Fight! And while the crowd appeared relatively sedate during the openers, as the crew switched out the equipment between sets, there was a subtle yet noticeable shift up front as if everyone slowly took three steps forward at exactly the same time. Even when Title Fight stepped onto the stage and frontman Jamie Rhoden issued a “thank you for not smoking” PSA (note those large X’s on their hands) as a large cloud of what was obviously not tobacco smoke wafted from the crowd five feet in front of him, the crowd only stood there expectantly. However, when they hit that first note of that first song, the crowd went absolutely bat-shit crazy.
In the blink of an eye, dozens of kids were scrambling towards the stage … climbing over one another for a quick sprint sideways before launching into the crowd, ever adhering to the three second rule. And that space which had recently been freed up by the aforementioned 3-step shift … now a roiling pit. People were flying all over the place and the band didn’t miss a beat. Heck, the only way you could tell that TF knew what was going on around them was by the occasional “lost and found” break where keys and phones were returned to their rightful owners.
Watching the stage-dive technique offered nearly as much entertainment as the music. Here’s a summary of the most common approaches taken at the Metro:
- The Butt Sit — This seemed to be the preferred approach for the newbies to stage diving and is characterized by stopping short, turning around and falling butt-first into the face of the person right behind you. Due to the lack of proper projection and velocity, the Butt Sit is the stage dive most likely to find the diver shoved back onto the stage.
- The Traditional – As the name suggest, this is the most common of all stage dives. Usually carefully aimed to ensure a soft landing, the Traditional can either be landed on the front or back and is most likely to result in a good surf.
- The Front Flip – For the aspiring gymnasts in the crowd. Proper technique ensures that no one in up front receives a swift boot to the head. Unfortunately for a few folks in the front, some of the divers needed to work on their form.
- The Running Man — While not technically a “dive” we’ve included The Running Man for completeness. With The Running Man, the individual runs off the stage using forward momentum and the heads of others to propel themselves as deep into the crowd as possible before hopefully landing on their feet. Given the likelihood for crowd injury (ever had anyone jump on your head?), this approach is generally reserved for only the douchiest of douchebags.
- The Swan Dive – Grace and commitment and willing to risk it all for the dive … the perfect Swan Dive reaches maximum height by launching off of the stage monitors and requires arms spread wide and back properly arched but risks over-shooting the crowd and a hard landing on the concrete floor. Without a doubt, there were several candidates for the perfect score … pure poetry in motion.
What about Title Fight? More than just the soundtrack to audience shenanigans, these guys ripped through a tight 60-ish minute set of pure unadulterated action. Punk rock for a new generation of punks.
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