December 28, 2010

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Douglas Martin has no recollection of hitting on Ramona Flowers backstage.

To say Sex Bob-omb has had an incredible year would be a drastic understatement. After breaking up earlier this year to pursue other musical interests, the cult favorite has seen both a biopic of Sex Bob-omb bassist Scott Pilgrim (starring Michael Cera, master of the “socially-awkward post-adolescent” role) and a video game based on it, the former of which being a runaway hit and clearly the band’s biggest contribution to geek culture since Kim Pine cosplay. Upon the band’s breakup, they left a long trail of broken hearts and obscure video game references, merging together the worlds of geeks and hipsters like no band before them. I wish I could say the same for Harry and the Potters.

Word spread like wildfire to those in-the-know that Sex Bob-omb would be playing a one-off reunion show at Toronto’s Crash Theater (under new management since the death of Gideon Graves), and the ticket rush was an absolute mob scene. Online ticket servers were backed up for hours. People had camped out in front of the venue as early as five days before tickets went on sale. Scalpers dressed like Sonic the Hedgehog charged up to six times the regular price.

When I arrived at the venue the night of the show, scores of destitute fans without tickets huddled around and smoked cigarettes, dying for a glimpse of Pine (drummer of Sex Bob-omb) or frontman Stephen Stills. Hell, they would even settle for Young Neil and Knives Chau. Walking up to the door and showing my ID for guest list confirmation, I thought I was going to be bludgeoned to death by the plastic sword of a particularly desperate non-ticket-holder.

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After Pine’s now-iconic shout of, “ONE, TWO, THREE FOUR,” the band naturally opened with “We Are Sex Bob-omb,” an incredibly loud, punky mission statement, which had the younger fans in attendance jumping and flailing with all their might, a mass of bodies flying about that would look a lot like the white flakes in a shaken-up snow globe if you were to capture the scene in slow motion. The only song met with a greater ovation was “Garbage Truck,” reaching the height of its fame in a pivotal scene in the Scott Pilgrim biopic. With fans singing every single word of the song, Stills stepped back from the microphone and ceded the final chorus to the fans, who raised their fists and held their heads up high in a moment that will live in breathless message board posts for years to come.

After the band hopped offstage and left the crowd to feverishly chant for an encore for over five minutes, Pine, Pilgrim, and Stills were all smiles as they hit the stage and picked up their instruments again. After playing “Ramona” and dedicating it to the song’s namesake (Pilgrim’s longtime girlfriend, beaming from the side of the stage, orange locks swaying along with the tune), Pilgrim announced that they’d be playing a cover of a song that meant a lot to them.

When the band played the opening chords of Canadian band Plumtree’s “Scott Pilgrim,” the applause reached near-deafening levels, to the point where I thought a few fans might have even simultaneously combusted into a pile of coins. Pilgrim was all smiles the whole time as Stills sang and laughed his way through the faithful rendition of the song, and the air in the room turned sweet with joy as teeth were showing and cheeks were punctuated with dimples across the entire venue. 2010, from start to finish, was Sex Bob-omb’s year.

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During one of the guitar-tuning lulls in the set, Pilgrim took the mic and gave a short, heartfelt speech: “I guess you could say we’re pretty thankful that you guys decided to come out tonight. It was a really weird year for all of us, but I think we’re all kind of surprised at how rad it all turned out. The fact that George Michael Bluth played me in a movie is something I wouldn’t have even dreamed of in a million years.” The range with which Sex Bob-omb’s popularity has reached this year is pretty far beyond anybody’s imagination, going from cult sensation to the gateway drug for alternative culture for tweens all across the world.

Earlier this year, Kanye West rapped, “It’s hard to be humble when you stuntin’ on a Jumbotron,” the three members of Sex Bob-omb, and the entire scene that surrounds them, proves that the case is not necessarily an invariable truth. As they go back to their quiet Toronto lives working in vegetarian restaurants, Scott Pilgrim, Stephen Stills, and Kim Pine were given the chance to become stars for one night, the chance to take the victory lap for a year nobody had any clue would come.

Download:
MP3: Sex Bob-Omb-“We Are Sex Bob-Omb”