New Jersey hardcore kings H2O played a sold out show at the Trocadero Theatre last Friday night. Tickets were only $10 and the band mingled with the crowd throughout the night making sure to shake everyone’s hand and really act interested when rabid fans came up to ask them questions. Try finding that kind of courtesy at a Kid Rock or Limp Bizkit show.
In the world of MTV and stadium tours many punks have become disillusioned about what punk really is. Many try to go to see their favorite bands only to find inflated ticket prices and seats that give a thumbnail view of their favorite MTV star. Fortunately for lovers of punk music everywhere there are still bands like H2O that continue to play small venues and keep their ticket prices as low as possible.
H2Oguitarist Rusty Pistachio gives his insight on the thought of jacking up their ticket prices: “I would much rather do smaller venues rather than huge stadiums. You’re able to look out over the crowd and see everyone’s faces. Seeing the people really massages your ego and it lets you know that you’re really getting your message out. You couldn’t pay me enough to play a huge concert like Woodstock.”
Pistachio agrees that ticket prices need to stay low. Most of H2O’s fans can’t afford $30 and $40 tickets, so they always try to keep prices reasonable: “I would prefer to do a couple of shows with lower prices rather than one big show with high prices. Punk rock needs to be cheap, no big business. That’s the way it used to be. That’s the way it should be.”
H2O has done the Warped Tour the last three years, but this year they decided not to join. Pistachio explained: “It became a lot of politics. We’ve been on tour for a whole year with only about 18 days off. We started out doing a tour in Europe, then we came back to the U.S. to do the Warped Tour, then we went did the Punk-o-Rama tour, then we went to Japan. After that we did the East Coast Fuck You Tour, then back to Europe, and now we’re here. It has been one hell of a year. Our current tour is going to be over on May 9th and the on the 12th we’re going to start a tour in Australia with Pennywise, so we decided we wanted to take a few months off. Sometime I would really like to do the entire Warped Tour because the fans are always really great.”
Last year Limp Bizkit and Eminem were on the Warped Tour with H2O, and Pistachio explained the differences between these wanna-be rock stars and the rest of the bands on the tour: “All the bands hung out together a lot and whenever we needed some help fixing an instrument or whatever, everyone was willing to help out. Eminem and Fred Durst were the only people that seemed to think they were better than everyone else. They really alienated themselves from everyone else, and even though they weren’t that big at the time, they acted that way. That’s really going to hurt them later in their careers, but then again what do I know. I’m not on MTV everyday and hanging out with Dr. Dre.”
Many punk fans are angry at bands like Blink-182 and Green Day for selling out. H2Ohas never been labeled as sell-outs, but it’s interesting that Pistachio doesn’t think that there’s any problem with that: “Punk bands have great messages that need to get out into the mainstream. Only a few bands actually get heard. A lot of fans only like a band if they look and sound cheap. Punk needs to be brought to a bigger crowd. If you have a good message, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to get that message out to as many people as possible. Hip-hop seems to be the only genre in the mainstream that is actually trying to get a message across. The punk bands that make it mainstream seem to forget what got them there.”
Even though H2O is playing to a sold out crowd, that doesn’t mean they are living large and have no worries. Pistachio said: “People see us come here on a bus and they think we’ve sold out. All the money we make doing our shows goes into that bus. We’ve been on tour a long time and the only way for us to keep our intensity is if we can travel in a little comfort. Right now I have a cold and I can hardly speak. If we were still traveling in our van I’d have bronchitis right now and I wouldn’t be able to speak at all. We keep our prices down for the fans. No one can ever accuse us of selling out.”
There are so many genres of rock music now that it’s really hard to define a band as belonging to any one genre. H2O has been termed hardcore and punk, but what is punk music? Pistachio tried to clarify it: “The lines of punk music are really blurred right now. When I was growing up, punk was so different than everything else on the radio. Punk was so strict and severe. Now punk is in the mainstream of music and it’s hard to tell the difference. Bands like the Foo Fighters definitely have a punk background but they also play radio-friendly music. It’s impossible to tell you what H20 is. We’re just us.”
Going to Temple, most people don’t realize how big the punk scene is in Philadelphia, but it’s hard to find a punk show that is not sold out. The members of H2O are some of the most down-to-earth guys you will ever meet and they were extremely happy to find that the show was sold out. “We love playing in Philadelphia. The crowd is always really enthusiastic and that makes our shows even better. When I look out over the crowd I always see plenty of smiling faces. Most fans want to steal the show from the band. They get on stage and bump you or grab the microphone, but not here. Philly fans know that we are the main attraction, not them. We’re all from around here and we love playing here.”
The best thing about H20 was their communication with the crowd. That’s the foremost luxury about small venues like the Trocadero. Hopefully, bands like H2O will keep coming and playing to sold-out crowds for years to come. When the security at the Trocadero tried to keep fans from taking pictures, the band told them where to go. Russ, Tobey, Adam, Todd Friend, and Todd Morse are some of the most admirable guys in the music business today. Anyone who likes punk music at all should check out thenew H2O album F.F.T.W. The only way to keep punk shows cheap and exciting is to support the bands that support their fans in return. H2O is definitely one of those bands.