On Saturday November 3rd, 2018 an era came to an end at Oscar's Bar in Vanadalia, Ohio. It more or less really came to an end about a year earlier but official finals shows were set to occur in November which turned into one final show with a slightly different cast.
Fight Before Surrender (or F.B.S.) was a mainstay in the regional punk scene as well as the underground Christian punk scene for about 20 years. Things happened that brought it to a screeching halt in October 2017...no last show planned. It was just the end. Then, this summer, there was rumbling about the band getting together for the last time for a couple of shows which turned into a plan for two final shows with the original lineup playing the first album front to back. I was pretty excited and planned to catch the show. It sounds like the idea came mostly from Jay Phillips. It was only days after these shows were announced that Jay passed away unexpectedly and the effect was felt throughout the scene and by many of my friends. I did not personally know Jay but I could tell he had a huge impact on many that I did know. The shows, of course, could not go on without Jay and were cancelled.
In the coming week or so, it was then announced that the final lineup of F.B.S. would "put aside their differences" to play one final show with the details to be announced. Once again, I planned to find a way to be in Ohio to see this final show. I also planned to record it.
Other folks then started talking about getting a car pool planned to get a group of us from Chicago to Ohio for this show. There was even an idea to rent out the Reggies Party Bus. I talked to my friends who had brought up the idea as well as with a couple others but with one week to go, there still was not a definitive plan on how to make this car pool happen. That's where Tobin Bawinkel (Flatfoot 56 and 6'10) stepped in offering to drive the new tour van if we had enough people. We did, in fact, get enough people to make it feasible (thank you Tobin!) and we departed early Saturday afternoon for Ohio, stopping to pick up Little Jessi along the way in Indiana. At some point between Indianapolis and the Ohio state line, Tobin opened his window but it would not close so we had to pull off to try to figure out the electronics that operate the window. It did not seem to succeed so Elphie offered her hat and we sent blankets up to try to brave the cold air blasting through the window. Miraculously, the window ended up working after a few moments on the road and we proceeded to Oscar's Bar for the show. We arrived just before the first band played.
Our main reason for coming out, of course was F.B.S. who would play in the middle of the evening so it gave us time to meet up with various friends who came out to the show. It was good to see so many people come out to support a band and a person that meant so much to so many. There was a lot of emotion as the set came to a close...I think both for the loss of a friend in Jay but also for the loss of a band many of us would consider to be a friend if not family after so many years.
F.B.S. did not disappoint...you can count on them playing loud, fast, punk which is typically 10 or so songs clocking in at about a 20-25 minute set. This set was double what we usually get with stories peppered in about Jay. Elphie offered to help film the set so I had two angles to work with for the project.
The Final F.B.S. Set
The Final Setlist:
Hammer fist RocknRoll
All I Want To Do Is RocknRoll
Out Of Control
You Can’t Hide
Watch Your Back
Faster Than Before
Fight Before Surrender
In Your Blood
They Hate You
Ace Of Spades
Dreadful Rumor opened the night. It was their first show and they were pretty good.
Viceroy Kings played next. One member, GeeGee, was with The Migraines some years ago (others from that band went on to form Grave Robber). I recall in college hearing about The Migraines and "Five Bucks Short" as F.B.S. was known then so there is a lot of history with these guys it would seem.
VoltageHawk was third on the bill and came from Nashville to play this show. The drummer was the original Five Bucks Short drummer. He invited Josh and Charlie up to sing "I Fought The Law" to close the set.
Betty Machete And The Angry Cougars followed the F.B.S. set and all the emotion that came with it. It seems that they followed it up quite well with a lot of energy, intensity and grit that a band like this would seemingly have to have. I heard later in the night from Josh that F.B.S. played with Betty Machete a few years ago during a Noise For Toys event and was impressed by the intensity.
Bundy And The Spins was the last band I got to see as we had to get going back to Chicago. They were quite shiny in their sequined jackets and seemed like a fun rocknroll band.
Apologies to The Frankx. My crew wanted to get back on the road for the long trip home so I was not able to catch any of the set. I had hoped to get a little bit but it just did not work out unfortunately.
Filmed LIVE during Jay Phillips’ Memorial at Oscar’s Bar in Vandalia, Ohio on Saturday November 3rd, 2018 using a Canon Rebel T6 & iPhone 6 by Elphie and Joel A. Swanson. Edited using Final Cut Pro on a Mac Mini by Joel A. Swanson.
I would guess in 2009 was when F.B.S. and I connected to work out a show that would happen on January 12th, 2010 at Covenant. F.B.S. was involved with Rise Above Ministries at the time in San Antonio, Texas. I enjoyed having some hockey banter with Josh as I knew he was a Detroit Red Wings fan and the Pittsburgh Penguins had just beat them for the Stanley Cup the previous season! Ultimately, sports banter caused for Josh to unfriend me on facebook some years later, ha! Anyway, this show at Covenant went fairly well and brought in some new people that I had not reached in previous shows. It seemed that this show is where attendance picked up a little bit for the rest of the shows I would do at Covenant.
Over the next few years, as I transitioned away from the church to doing Witler basement shows and occasionally booking with The 86, F.B.S. would come through from time to time. Josh called me to ask about booking a tour featuring F.B.S. with Headnoise. I definitely agreed to doing this show but a few weeks before the tour was to begin, Josh called to let me know that F.B.S. would have to drop due to unforeseen circumstances. I believe this tour was intended to bring them home to Ohio...I know Nate moved back to Ohio around this time. I went ahead with the show anyway & it brought about the first ever acoustic Headnoise set due to a power outage.
A few months after this, there was a show scheduled for a venue called Bangarangs (formerly known as The Mad Hatter and now it is a park?). I don't quite recall all the circumstances surrounding this show but I do remember that Grave Robber and Behold The Kingdom were scheduled to play this show. If I am remembering correctly, I was talking with Shawn about something other than the show when word came that the venue would be dropping the show. I believe this was a day or so before the show...I offered to take it on in my basement but I could not guarantee anything but they could at least have a show. I believe Josh contacted me about F.B.S. playing as well at that point so I started working on getting some locals on board as well then I was contacted by folks with Bangarangs stating there was some miscommunication and asking if they could take the show back at their venue. I said it was fine with me if they could work it out with the bands. I was working as all this was going on so organizing the show wasn't easy in the midst of trying to do my "day job" but I said that they needed to take F.B.S. as well now that they had been added to the show during the couple of hours in which it was to be happening in my basement. Then another band that used the initials F.B.S. thought that they had been booked on this show and contacted Bangarangs to dispute the booking so I had to explain the band was a different F.B.S. and thankfully, the show did happen at Bangarangs and F.B.S. was able to play and they stayed the night at my place because they were able to get on another show in the area with Grave Robber and Behold The Kingdom the next night.
I was able to book F.B.S. for one Witler basement before the shows had to come to an untimely end. It was the first of two shows my band, Crash Cap Hooligans played. The idea to start this band came during another F.B.S. show I booked for The 86 in March.
I also booked F.B.S. at The 86 in August which was the first show with Russ on drums (Russ drummed for Crash Cap Hooligans as well). Speaking of drummers, over the course of this time of video documentation there were at least five drummers that I can recall: Andrew, Jose, Russ, Ryan, and some other guy between Andrew and Jose who I did not know.
In October, F.B.S. allowed me to ride along to Unified Underground in Maryland. This weekend trip was a lot of fun! Later that year, I booked F.B.S. to play the last show that I booked and one of the last shows that I would work for The 86 before moving to Pittsburgh.
After this, our paths typically crossed at various yearly events such as Unified Underground and the newly formed Audiofeed. I made my way to San Antonio for Death or Glory Fest at Rise Above and caught F.B.S. in Austin along the way. I never got into the game of booking shows really in Pittsburgh. There were decent spots already established and there did not seem to be a need for me to do it myself. Also, a blossoming relationship sort of took priority.
While moving to Chicago, F.B.S. played at Risen Savior where I would attend church for a time the first day I was in Chicago as part of a Noise for Toys benefit. In 2016 there would be another one at Wilson Abbey. It was after the move to Chicago that I started to attend Take Hold Fest and caught F.B.S. there a couple of times as well.
I ended up booking one more show after leaving The 86. This would be what I called a RocknRoll Wedding Celebration the night before my wedding with Elphie. F.B.S. was booked for this show and I was able to get my digital copy of the long anticipated album Self-Destruction (the vinyl had come a month earlier).
The final Unified Underground Conference was at Take Hold in Grand Rapids, Michigan and F.B.S. was playing. I started having some car trouble so I asked Josh to ride with me to try to decipher strange noises coming from the car. On our way back to Take Hold, the car jammed in 3rd gear so we pushed it into a parking lot and Elphie and I ended up stranded in Grand Rapids, Michigan for our first anniversary.
Prior to this final show, the last time I was able to see or even hang with the guys in F.B.S. was at Audiofeed 2017.
I am very thankful for the decade I spent watching and recording F.B.S. on stage and even more so, the friendship and the times spent hanging out beyond the shows. I wish circumstances were different. I wish the band did not have to end. I believe our friendship will remain though it may not be in quite as loud, fast, or punk of a setting as before.
Thank you F.B.S. for all these years!
Thank you Josh, Charlie, Ryan, Nate, Kristen, Andrew, Russ, and Jose for the friendship!