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Couch to Ska

February 16, 2013
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There’s a popular workout program called Couch to 5K. The idea is to transform the most sedentary person (a couch potato) into a 3-mile-runner in just a couple of months, simply by starting out at the bare minimum and gradually working your way there.

However, since I despise running I’ve come up with my own program: Couch to Ska. Within a few months one will be able to enjoy a full 1.5 hour skanking ska concert simply by skanking for one minute on the first day of the program and adding an additional minute to their skanking each day for 3 months.

Conveniently, the FIVE IRON FRENZY CONCERT is in almost exactly THREE MONTHS!!! So you had better buy your tickets and start now!

I cannot express how excited I am that after 10 years I get to attend another FIF concert AND hear new FIF music.

My brother got red-eyed and tearful at the dinner table the other day when he told me that when he goes to the show he’s determined to find Reese Roper just to give him a big hug and simply say, “thank you.”

 My first clear memory of Five Iron Frenzy was from when I was in seventh grade.

Mom and Dad had dropped me and a couple of girlfriends off at some Christian concert. I really was not interested in the music. I just wanted to giggle and whisper and tell secrets and look at boys and flirt and be a typical middle school girl.

I was a sickeningly typical middle school girl.

Then this band got on the stage and started playing songs that I knew (and loved) from being played over and over on good ol’ Radio U. The Flowery Song. Suckerpunch. And in the middle of the crowd I observed kids dressed in a way I’d never seen before, dancing in a way that I’d never seen before. Of course now I realize they were ska kids in a skank pit, but at that point in time I thought it was new and funny and… awesome. It drove me to find out the band was Five Iron Frenzy. I checked out their merch, eventually bought their CD, and my life was changed forever.

Five Iron Frenzy became the soundtrack to all of my adolescent years, my companion from girlhood to adulthood, my inspiration as I grew into my faith and figured out what I believed. I laughed with them, I cried with them, and I was challenged by them. Their songs became my prayers and praise through grief and joy. FIF- their lyrics, music, and the teen Christian community/unity/values they inspired- truly had a huge impact on my life.

During my senior year of high school they announced that they were quitting. They put out their final CD and completed their “Winners Never Quit” tour. I went to their last show in Columbus and decided I would probably never again feel so close to heaven as I did that night. And I cried. I quite literally mourned their death for years. Which might sound crazy to someone who has never been so impacted by a band or artist or book/television series before, however I’m sure many people can relate to my experience.  (Kids who grew up with Harry Potter!? I know how you felt when you finished that last chapter! I totally empathize!)

The grief of losing FIF might have been a lot less tolerable had the band not filled my mind with that HOPE of an FIF comeback illustrated in their ‘The End is Near’ album artwork where, if my memory serves me right, the FIF bunny? is defeated and killed and put into a box and on the last page the bunny’s ear is coming out of the box? Or something like that? Anyway- I was absolutely convinced that it meant they might come back someday as a band- that they weren’t dead for GOOD. Three… five… six years after the band quit my brothers and I would find ourselves reminiscing about the awesome FIF days of the past and we would become saddened by how much we missed them and wished we’d had longer to enjoy them. We would always end the conversation with, “But the bunny ears! They were popping up! Death couldn’t hold them down!” We hung on to that hope.

A couple of years ago I’d given up on the idea of the resurrection of FIF. I filed them under ‘my past’ and accepted the new less-inspired, non-FIF reality of mundane grownup things…

And then what do you know. In 2011 members of the band claimed they had a big announcement to give on November 22nd. There was talk of zombies and the walking dead. All I could think was, ‘the bunny ears!’ Sure enough, they announced they were back- not just for a comeback tour with all their old music- but as a full-fledged new-music-writing band.

I’m pretty sure that J, Rebecca, and I bounced giddily about the house for at least an hour after the announcement that night.

And finally- 10 years after the “last” FIF show I went to- they will be in Columbus this May!  And it occurred to me that I skanked and hopped around for hours at a time at music concerts/festivals when I was a teenager and young adult. These days I collapse on the floor in wheezes after about 5 minutes, haha. So you’ll have to excuse me while I go kickstart Couch to Ska.

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