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*** SPECIAL FEATURES- CONCERT REVIEWS ***
Five for Fighting/ 8th Annual Bite of Las Vegas
Desert Breeze Park (Las Vegas)
October 23, 2004
               When I heard Five for Fighting was going to be at Mix 94.1’s 8th Annual Bite of Las Vegas food and music festival, I was so excited. A chance to eat good food and watch them live was too good an opportunity to pass up. There were other acts schedules as well, including Bowling for Soup, Switchfoot and Blue Man Group, but I was going there solely for Five for Fighting. To top it all off, the admission price was only $5.
                It was held at Desert Breeze Park and was an all day event from 11am to 9pm. When I got there at half past eleven, there was already a large crowd. And as I waited impatiently in line to buy a ticket, I heard Five for Fighting finishing up “The Devil in the Wishing Well.” I couldn’t believe they were already performing. I was extremely disappointed. I tried to cheer myself up by saying at least I got to hear them live, especially “100 Years.” When I finally got inside, I saw John Ondrasik and the crew leaving. Such perfect timing on my part- at least I got to see and hear him sing (although not at the same time), I thought. I was determined to try and enjoy the rest of the festivities.
                Luckily there were some great food available and some booths were giving away some free stuff so naturally I headed over to them. While I was in line to spin a wheel and try to win tickets to see Blue Man Group- I ended up winning a box of cereal- I began talking to this lady. She told me there was a schedule of performances available. When she showed me her copy, I was ecstatic to see Five for Fighting were set to close the festival with a one hour performance. I didn’t miss them after all. The only downside was it was only noon so I had a lot of time to kill.
                For the next several hours, I walked (and walked and walked) around the park and bought some food. I watched some of the other bands but after awhile their music started to sound alike. I did enjoy Bowling for Soup though because they interacted with the audience and were really funny.  Makeshift restaurants were located on three sides of the rectangular park with games and booths in the center. The main stage took up most of the remaining side, next to where the DJ’s were manning the radio station. There was a smaller stage off to the side by the entrance where local bands played during the big acts’ intervals. There were no seats so if you wanted a good view of the stage you had to find the closest position you could and stay there.
                As the hours passed and the roster of performers dwindled, I edged myself closer and closer to the stage. The Blue Man Group were the second to the last act and I was in a fairly decent spot but sure enough taller people and parents who thought it was cool to let their kids sit on their shoulders managed to find places directly in front of me. When the act was done, I noticed most of the older people began to leave. Why not? It was getting late and windy but I was determined to get my $5 worth- ha, ha. I managed to get closer still to the stage and since the audience was basically die-hard Five for Fighting fans as well, I was happy. However, things started to look bad when the crew seemed to be having problems with the sound system.
                Naturally, I wouldn’t be writing this if there wasn’t a happy ending. After awhile, they got everything working and Five for Fighting took to the stage. They opened with “NYC Weather Report” and then “The Devil in the Wishing Well.” They were really good and John reminded me of Billy Joel and Elton John with the types of songs he sang and how he performed. After that was “100 Years”- one of my favorite songs off “The Battle for Everything.” Then, John intro’d “Angels & Girlfriends” saying how you could make a song by not knowing how to play the harmonica very well, which was funny. The next songs were “Easy Tonight,” “Something About You,” “If God Made You,” “The Taste,” “Disneyland,” and my all time favorite Five for Fighting song- “Superman (It’s Not Easy).” I think there is a song in everyone’s life that they feel totally captures their whole existence. For me, it’s that song. “Nobody” finished the set.
              The fact I heard “Superman” live was already a highlight but then the DJ’s said Five for Fighting were staying around to meet people and sign autographs. I couldn’t believe it. I was near the end of the line and I was thinking I should have brought along one of their CD’s for them to sign but I didn’t even consider I would have this chance. What could they sign of mine? What was I going to say? I didn’t want to be a bumbling fan gushing about how much I like their songs. When it was almost my turn, I noticed they had some merchandise out- shirts and CD’s. It was a good thing I saw it- and I let other people know since I didn’t think they knew about it either- and I was glad I still had some money left.  For $15, I bought the only album I didn’t have of Five for Fighting’s yet- “Message for Albert.” Then, after a little struggle opening the CD, I shook hands with John and asked him a safe question whether or not their limited edition 2-disc set was actually being released the following Tuesday (because I hadn’t seen any promotion for it) and he said yes. He and the rest of the band signed the booklet- “EJ, All my best. John.” They were really nice. And so what started out to be a hopeful day- and then disappointed, and then happy again- turned out to be one of the most memorable.