September 6th may have been one of the most bittersweet concerts I’ve ever been to. Although they weren’t the headliner, fans of The Licks crowded into the small Constellation Room at The Observatory in Santa Ana to see drummer Thomas Bateman’s last show with the band. In the line to get into the venue, fans had flowers and posters for the departing band member.
The lineup of this show was jam-packed with five bands. First up was Siam Jem. Their set was short but sweet, and everyone was overjoyed when the lead singer began to toss CDs of their new album into the crowd. Next was Hate Drugs, which really surprised me. Their mix of surf punk and indie music was really interesting and their high-energy stage presence kept the crowd going for the next act. Fashion Jackson, of course, kept everyone entertained. I think a lot of people we’re excited to see them before they prepare to open for the 1975 in December.
After all of the building up it was finally time for The Licks to come out. The floor immediately became more packed as people pushed their way up to the front to get closer. The usual band members were on stage but with the addition of a saxaphone player this time, I wondered where that would come into play in the show. The set started with “Birdhouse,” a slower song that the crowd sang right back to the lead singer. They transitioned into a high energy song, “Bailee,” and a mosh pit of dancing and singing quickly broke out. No one could contain themselves, it was an all out madhouse. People were climbing on stage with the band and crowd surfing.
Things slowed down a bit with an extremely underrated song called “Secret Scenes,” which is where the saxophone came into play. During this song, they gave Thomas a quick shout-out and mentioned that it was his last show as people passed up flowers from the crowd. Then it was back to regularly scheduled programming, they played their two most recent singles “Avery” and “Nikki.” But before they played “Nikki” the keyboard player Chandler Villwock sang an interlude that quite literally made my jaw drop. His vocals were absolutely insane, and that intro to “Nikki” isn’t released anywhere as of right now. Honestly if you get the chance to see The Licks I’d say to do it just to hear that interlude and also to be a part of the mosh pit that goes down during their closing song “Monday.” The lead singer Chad Zappia got the whole crowd in involved in this throwback-esque song to end the set.
When the set was over the crowd was chanting for an encore but unfortunately there wasn’t time for an extra song. The floor cleared out as people went to try and meet The Licks and Thomas was literally carried off stage by another band member. It was one of the most high energy shows I’ve ever been to and afterwards I was left wanting more. I’ll definitely be trying to see The Licks again soon, and so should you.