Santa Ana crowd boils over Hot Water Music

In Arts & Entertainment, Music
Photo by Rae Romero
Photo by Rae Romero

Post-hardcore punk band Hot Water Music journeyed through California last week, and after a sold-out show at Los Angeles’ Echoplex, the quartet headlined yet again at the Santa Ana Observatory Wednesday, Feb. 6.

Benny Garcia, 23, was anxious to see the band of 20-plus years take the stage.

“They are one of my favorite bands,” said Garcia. “ I like their old stuff, like Never Ender and Moonpies for Misfits.”

As a long-time fan, Garcia was excited when he had the chance to meet lead singer Chuck Ragan, something many other fans would envy.

“He was a really cool guy, he was super nice and shook everyone’s hands,” said Garcia.

Despite the countless devoted Hot Water Music fans like Garcia in the crowd, not everyone was there to see the Gainesville, Fla. punk rockers.

Many concert goers were actually there to see the second act of the night, supporting band La Dispute.

When asked why they liked La Dispute, replies generally involved the band’s amazing vocals and lyrics.

Doug Schmidt, 22, was there to see La Dispute with his two friends and fellow La Dispute fans, Aaron Leavitt and Brent Burmeister.

La Dispute puts on a really good performance on top of the amazing lyrics, Schmidt said.

“Musically, instrumentally, everything is all on point,” added Schmidt.

La Dispute can be easily compared to bands like Rise Against or Hollywood Undead for their “half screamed, half rapped” style of music.

Throughout the course of the night, starting with The Menzingers, then La Dispute and ending with Hot Water Music, several things became apparent about the throng of bodies.

Everyone came to have a good time, support the bands and above all, crowd surf.

Serving the crowd surfers up first was The Menzingers, whose perfect mix of pop-punk and indie-rock could lure any young teenager into the world of punk music.

Their fun pop-punk sound can be considered a beginners course in punk rock music.

Their song “Good Time” pumped up the most energy from the crowd, causing all sorts of rowdy movement in the congested pit.

Following The Menzingers was La Dispute who gave the crowd all the more reason to jump, scream and move.

Crowd surfers became a frequent and constant sight throughout the show that only dissipated slightly when the headliners finally took the stage.

Hot Water Music took over around 10 p.m. and the shift in energy was palpable.

The 20-year veterans were finally on stage. Singers Ragan and Chris Wollard sporting similar shaggy hair, a possible result of being on tour and away from a barber, but the pair sounded strong and seemed comfortable on stage.

Jason Black helped the energy and momentum stay strong on bass while George Rebelo held the whole thing together on drums.

The band as a whole was a beast. The rough-edged vocals seemed at their absolute best.

The band played old favorites like “Trusty Chords” and new songs like “Drag My Body”  and “Mainline” from their 2012 album Elixer.

The four members went through their set list with the comfort and obvious enjoyment that comes naturally from doing something that you love.

And the audience loved it too. Although there was still an occasional crowd surfer getting caught by security after the rough tumble, the energy shifted from a type of craze to intense passion.

Crammed audience members howled and screamed each word—a thousand unpaid backup singers to the growls of Ragan and Wollard.

Ragan was especially amped up, with constant movement back and forth up the stage.

With leg stomps and what seemed like pure testosterone-infused singing with his friends of more than two decades.

The Observatory may not have been a sold-out show, but it definitely felt like everything that went on inside was nearing capacity.

For those who wish to catch this foursome in the act, visit their Facebook page:

Or fans can try to see Ragan with his ensemble of musicians in The Revival Tour.

This acoustic collaboration will come back to California in late April.

The Revival Tour will feature musicians such as Dave Hause (The Loved Ones), Tim Mcllrath (Rise Against), Matt Pryor (The Get Up Kids), Toh Kay (Streetlight Manifesto) and Jenny Owen Youngs.

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