by Erin Red
It’s difficult to adequately describe the ridiculous excellentness (and the excellent ridiculousness) of a B.A. Johnston show. I have tried on many occasions and done a reasonable job, but there is nothing like seeing it for yourself. This is gonna be an exceptionally photo-heavy post for just that reason… also because my friend just got a new camera phone… Shall we begin?
We started off the evening with the musical stylings of the energetic and the ever-sweaty Phil Castiglione, aka Robots!EVERYWHERE!! As always, the hometown crowd sang and heckled with great enthusiasm as Phil sped through such gems as “Zombie Smooth” and “Red Hair Blond Hair” all the while battling with the magical exploding guitar (tenuously taped together for a super fast encore of “Drunk at Work”).
I’ve seen Robots!EVERYWHERE!! three times in as many months and am consistently impressed by Phil’s ability to get a crowd going. His speedy and clever punk tunes combined with his opposite-of-serious attitude are a sure-fire hit every time, and tonight was no exception.
Next up was Remi Royale, the king of awkwardly-shirtless kareoke. Energetic and entertaining, Remi never even graced the stage, instead spending the entire performance roaming the crowd, serenading unsuspecting audience members and gettin’ us going with covers of everything from “Sweet Caroline” to “Don’t Stop Believing.” Remi’s set may have more in common with Vegas-inspired performance art than the acts one normals sees at a ‘pub and restaurant’ but it fit perfectly at Irene’s.
Time for B.A.!
For serious, B.A. is one of the most entertaining, funniest, and most inexplicably charismatic performers you will ever see. His songs are catchy and hilarious, he sweats up a storm, and he doesn’t take himself seriously in the slightest. As always he was accompanied by a selection of Casio keyboards and a ‘JPEG player’ (aka discman) as well as the enthusiastic singing/shouting along of the excited crowd. He started numerous songs by dancing on his chair, swinging the mic by the cord, then doing jump-splits onto the stage. At one point- while dancing around, just after playing the keyboard with his nose- B.A. shouted to a non-participatory guy in the front row (who was trying his darnedest to not make eye contact) “You can’t ignore me! I’m right fucking here in a dolphin tank top.”
Oh B.A. …
It is about the music (it’s always at least partially about the music!) but a B.A. Johnston show is also about the show: In addition to his standard captain’s hat and neck kerchief, we were also treated to a seemingly endless parade of printed sweatshirts (I believe there were three, followed by one with the sleeves cut of, before hitting the tank top and t shirt) which B.A. stripped off as they (all) got too sweaty. That guy really knows how to get the ladies hearts pumping…!
But forget the ladies, it’s the dudes who reeeeally love B.A… You can easily pick out the hard-core fans (including Phil- in the words of my sister “Watching B.A. is super entertaining, but watching Phil watch B.A. is almost even better!”) not only from the enthusiasm of their reactions, but from the way B.A. so sweetly picks on them throughout the show… regardless, by the end of every song practically every person is singing along. With choruses like “I always knew that Jesus was from Hamilton” (appropriately appropriate for Easter weekend…) and “I hate squirrels, I hate you squirrels, everybody, go kick a squirrel, man I hate squirrels” it’s practically impossible to not join in.
Like Remi Royale, B.A. also spent a good chunk of his set roaming (or should I say running) around the audience, sitting in chairs, standing on tables and jumping off benches. At one point, he even had someone hold his mic while he did an elaborate air-traffic-controller style cheer-leading routine while beltin’ it out… Just a small pinch of the commitment and zeal he pours into every second of every show.
Last, but certainly not least, we were all treated to the traditional encore-in-the-bathroom this time with three songs, capped off with the ever-entertaining “Have Fun on Warped Tour.” B.A. perched on the toilet while the rest of us crammed in the [oddly smelly] girls’ bathroom. It was a great view from the counter, and looking out over the cramped but enthusiastically singing crowd I couldn’t help but think to myself “Who else could get twenty people to cram into a smelly bathroom and listen to a sweaty guy standing on a toilet, playing a guitar?”
Oh B.A. …
*photos courtesy J.Pruner and L.Carson