Be Like Max kicked off their “Tuna Sandwich Tour” at a venue that probably actually serves tuna sandwiches: the Hard Rock Café on Paradise. It was my first time there, and it was definitely weird to see disinterested diners mixed in with young music fans.
That “young” part may have been due to the first band, the Troobadours, whose members are students at the arts magnet high school Las Vegas Academy. Three of them were wearing superhero onesies (Batman, Superman and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, in case you were wondering), and as soon as their set began I wondered how they managed to play without melting where they stood. I hadn’t seen the band in at least a year, and they’ve improved vastly since then, succeeding in getting the entire crowd moving along to their music. The fan favorite was certainly “El Diablo,” but a cover of “Sugar, Sugar” by the Archies received a great reaction as well.
Next up was Skandalism, a high-energy band from the San Francisco Bay Area. I’d been listening to their album No Shirt, No Shoes, No Friends like crazy recently, and it was awesome to hear some of my favorites live. Lead singer, Damian Ortellado, has a voice that can go from a brooding whine to an energetic yell, and the rest of the band showed enough passion that some tables and chairs had to be moved around to make room for the increasingly large circle pit. I wish Skandalism had played “SW,” one of my favorite songs of theirs, but seeing guitarist/backing vocalist Billy Bouzos’ nipple at the end of the show almost made up for it. He was giving away peeks for a dollar at their merch table.
Even more tables and chairs were moved for Be Like Max, making almost half of the Hard Rock Café a space for skanking. They announced that the A-Ok’s saxophonist, Mark Malpezzi would be accompanying them for the duration of their tour, and hearing that two of my favorite smaller ska bands were melding (it’s a bit of a stretch, but still) made me incredibly happy. I was surprised Be Like Max didn’t play their most popular song, “Bobby Got a Van,” but the crowd still went really hard in the pit. There’s something refreshing about going to a show with a younger audience. Perhaps they’re less self-conscious, or maybe it’s just youthful enthusiasm. Either way, it was a great way for Be Like Max to begin their tour.
Be Like Max photo by Hunter Wallace