A whirlwind of success

by Beacon Staff • October 4, 2006

Tabar, a 2006 Emerson alumnus, and the Tsunamis packed the Wallingford, Conn. American Legion to more than twice its legal capacity of 115 people for the show.,The Flaming Tsunamis stopped counting after the band sold 250 tickets to the Sept. 22 CD-release show for its LP Fear Everything, said lead singer Andy Tabar.

Tabar, a 2006 Emerson alumnus, and the Tsunamis packed the Wallingford, Conn. American Legion to more than twice its legal capacity of 115 people for the show.

Most had come to see Tsunamis before its nationwide 75-day tour, its first as a full-time touring band, and to get the band's new record.

Fear Everything is the band's second full-length album, and its first with a new lineup.

"With the addition of the new horn players [John Ryan and Logan Labarbera] as well as Craig [Berndt] on drums, the band became a lot closer. We regained that strong friendship that had been lost for a while [and] which made the writing process a lot more collaborative," said Tabar, a member of the original lineup, in an e-mail interview.

The incredible turnout transformed the small meeting hall into a sauna. Before La Guillotine (the show's opening act) took the stage, singer Trevor Johnson warned, "It's so disgustingly hot in there that everyone might die."

La Guillotine's intense performance, its first in New England after a summer tour through the southern states, only exacerbated the situation; the walls were literally sweating by the time The Flaming Tsunamis took the stage.

Five of the six band members were shirtless, but Tabar refused to remove his black Tom Jones T-shirt.

The hall was completely dark except for the band's red-and-white stagelights.

From Berndt's first rapid-fire, staccato drumbeat in "Opus," Tabar was engulfed in the crowd, using his imposing frame as a brace against the overwhelming energy of 250 people pressing towards his band.

Shirtless fans-save for one wearing a full Wolverine Halloween costume-leapt from atop tables, chairs and amplifiers toward the front of the crowd, climbing over each other and screaming one of The Flaming Tsunamis' most popular hooks: "Take back your life as your own!" While Tabar was physically lost in the crowd, his vocals, too, were largely drowned out by the sheer volume of the crowd's furious sing-a-long.

The Flaming Tsunamis is a hardcore band without the insufferable machismo posturing and a ska band that can actually write music.

The band's third song, "By Force," showcased the Tsunamis' horn section, with Ryan on the saxophone and Labarbera on the trombone. It created a scene-schism in the crowd-the hardcore kids remained crammed at the front of the hall, while the ska kids in the back started a dance pit, skanking and two-stepping in circles, just doing their thing.

The next song, "Corpse Disposal for Dummies," an anthemic, fist-pumping "old school" number off Fear Everything, is one of the hardest songs in The Flaming Tsunamis oeuvre. Tabar was forced to brace himself against Berndt's bass drum, with the crowd literally climbing over his back. He told them after the song, "If you guys make it through our set, you'll all be champions."

The Flaming Tsunamis' closing song, the jokingly homicidal masterpiece, "Dead Girlfriends Can't Break Up With You," rejuvenated both the band and crowd.

While each member summoned one last primal, furious burst of energy, there was no semblance of dancing or even crowd-surfing.

The crowd was simply packed floor to ceiling around Tabor, a collective mass of humanity that could stick its hands in the air and scream the song's titular chorus.

When the set was over and the crowd started pouring out of the tiny hall, La Guillotine's Johnson stood on a chair screaming at them to "Get out! Get the fuck out! It's too hot!"

Incredibly, about 100 people wouldn't leave the sweltering heat, chanting for one last song. Tabar had to convince his bandmates, but got them to oblige with "Purgatory Chasm," the 16th and final song of the evening. Tabar said later that the show "was probably the longest set we've ever played ... we figured it was a special night so we had to play some new songs, some old stuff we don't normally play."

The band chose the perfect song for the occasion: fast, loud and, most importantly, short. Every light in the hall was turned off for the encore, and absolute chaos engulfed the fans. After the song ended, and before he bolted for the exit and relief from the heat, Tabar told them, "You guys are champions. You guys are amazing."

The Flaming Tsunamis began it tour on Sept. 29. Tabar said that early feedback on the record has been positive.

"A lot of the people that have it now are the diehard fans, but it's quite different from our other stuff and everyone seems to dig it," he said.

Selections from Fear Everything are available online at myspace.com/theflamingtsunamis and the full-length album will soon be available at Newbury Comics.