By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy, Photos by Matt “Rabit” Martinez Red Hare Images
When I was in high school, besides hip-hop, one of the most popular music genres that my generation was deeply immersed with was pop punk/alternative rock. These were groups that had a punk rock attitude with a pop and alternative hook. Some of the most popular groups at the time were Blink-182, All-American Rejects, Yellowcard, and Bowling for Soup. Personally, these bands never interested me because I usually saw them as wuss bands (no offense guys, LOL). Rockaholic and Rabit were really into these bands at the time. One group they really enjoyed seeing and hearing was The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. I have heard of them, but they were not really my style of rock. Still, since I gave The Used a try and loved what they did, I figure go to the Slide Bar in Downtown Fullerton with Matt and see what The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus had to offer.
Following a slew of bands that warmed up the crowd, including Rival Tides, the OC crowd went crazy when their favorite indie alternative/pop punk band went onto the stage. Starting things off with “In Fate’s Hand,” I was quite surprised by how catchy and sharp their rock ‘n’ roll style is. The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus was heavier at times than I originally anticipated. Frontman and sole original member Ronnie Winter has a sweet melodic voice that was typical during the early 2000s pop punk scene, but he can get into your face whenever he wanted to. Commanding respect and admiration from the crowd, Ronnie knew how to pump them up throughout the night. There were some excellent guitar hooks that were performed really well by lead man Josh Burke and rhythm specialist, Ronnie’s brother Randy. Joey Westwood, the second oldest tenure in RJA, rocked out aggressively on the bass, while drummer John Espy drove it home with his pop fills and alternative crashes. Though it not the original line-up, this version of Red Jumpsuit Apparatus gelled together splendidly.
The Fullerton rock bar was hopping the whole set. From “The Awakening” to “California,” “On Becoming Willing,” “Damn Regret,” “Turn It Over,” and “Waiting,” Red Jumpsuit Apparatus came to party. By the time they reached “Shooting Star,” the group took a break so Ronnie can show off his crooner side with an unplugged performance. With his acoustic guitar in his lap, he serenaded the fans with his soft but powerful voice. After “Cat and Mouse,” he gave fans a song that fans have loved ever since it was featured on the CW hit series Vampire Diaries, “Your Guardian Angel.” The band then returned to turn the heat back up with 3 more songs, including “False Pretense,” their signature tune “Face Down,” and the closer “Grimm 2.0.” Being that the last 3 are their most memorable, the fans crushed it by singing along.
Full Red Jumpsuit Apparatus gallery below:
It was a good to check out The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. Just like the Used, they were not what I was expecting. They have catchy beats, well-written songs, and a good following of loyal fans. They just self-released their latest album last year, The Awakening, and some of the tunes they performed off the album were not bad. I am not saying that I have become a super fan overnight and will jump at it to get their next LP or EP, but I have more respect for them than I did before. To the Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, I salute you. Horns up!!!