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Artist: Five Iron Frenzy
Label: Label: Five Minute Walk Records
URL: <http://www.fiveironfrenzy.com>, <http://www.5minutewalk.com>
Times: 14 tracks/79:19 minutes (The End is Near); 18 tracks/78:49 minutes (The End is Here)
For Five Iron fans everywhere, The End Is Here is a must have. This album is more than a live version of Five Iron’s last show ever, more than the band sharing humorous jokes and more than songs about blue combs and new hopes. The End Is Here reaches down into the core of Five Iron Frenzy and reveals the heart of the band during their final hours. I was one of almost 4,000 fans (yes, it was sold out) who had the opportunity to experience the concert first-hand, and though I don’t think it’s possible to replicate such a highly emotional and overall amazing concert onto a compatible CD, I must say they were successful in capturing the essence of FIF during their last show ever.
One could view The End Is Here as a “Best of Five Iron Frenzy” CD. The play list is a collection of the best songs from previous albums, including everything from “Canada” and “Blue Comb ’78” to more recent songs such as “Cannonball” and “American Kryptonite.” Though the song choices may make this CD great, the intensity from the band and the live crowd are what makes this album phenomenal. The energy from the fans is incredible and I’m really pleased they didn’t edit out all of the screaming for each song. For those of you who have experienced a FIF concert, you know that the fans never stop screaming and will yell and cheer for minutes at a time. At the end, the fans start chanting “Thank you, thank you” and at one point, a fan even prays aloud, thanking God for FIF and their impact on our generation and generations to come. Though the vocals are not top-quality towards the end of the album, Reese manages to reveal something more important than great vocals and the right tones–passion. Five Iron lived on passion. They loved their fans, they loved playing shows and, above all, they loved Jesus Christ. This CD successfully reveals the passion so many others fail to grasp.
Though the album is well put together and sounds great for a live performance, I was disappointed to find that the editors cut out parts of the concert I found to be very significant for Five Iron as well as their fans. For example, Reese made a heart-wrenching speech before playing “Every New Day” that explained the significance behind the song that has ended every FIF show they’ve ever played. I thought that speech showed so much of what FIF is all about and would have been perfect to leave on the CD for long time fans and new listeners alike.
Eight years of playing hundreds
of shows, meeting thousands of fans, and writing unique songs with unique
sounds were all embraced in one final show. The End Is Here takes
the prize as one of the best albums ever produced by Five Iron Frenzy,
so if you haven’t already purchased this CD, go buy it today.
There's no doubt that those who enjoy Five Iron Frenzy are disappointed and perhaps saddened that the end is here, as of November 29, 2003, FIF's final concert at the Fillmore in its home town of Denver, Colorado. Okay, I'll cut to the chase. There's a recording of this concert, plus the final studio album (The End is Near)--previously available only in mail order from the website--put together and entitled The End is Here. It's excellent. You can skip to the next review.
No! No! Wait! That was the best Reese Roper joke impression one can do in a written venue (Roper jokes about bands who do "their best song last," and therefore, FIF plays its "best" song and tells the audience they can go home), and this review also comes with one homework assignment. To anyone who says, "You Christians don't have any (or "little") sense of humor," please direct them to Five Iron Frenzy, and The End is Here is an excellent starting point. See? There's a lot more to The End is Here than the end. And I'm sure that's exactly how Five Iron wants it, so let's talk about the record!
Yes, yes, humor is an excellent and integral part of FIF, but so is high-energy ska music, impeccably sharp performances, and varied and well-balanced sets of lyrics. With All the Hype and Electric Boogaloo, I was concerned that the band didn't have quite the same glue it did with Upbeats and Beatdowns or our newest album ever!, but I smiled from the first note of "Cannonball" and didn't quit through the duration of both CDs. Not only is this project a must for anyone who loves Five Iron Frenzy, The End is Here is for anyone who has ever HEARD of Five Iron Frenzy. I will easily put it right up there with my aforementioned favorite albums, and as much as I enjoy Proof That the Youth Are Revolting_ this live recording is the answer to a FIF fan's dream concert that, on the heels of the release of the studio The End is Near, includes all your FIF favorites (whatever's missing is included in a nine-minute medley).
Let me switch to second person for a sec. Okay, you're a diehard FIF fan and already have The End is Near, and since you're a diehard fan, you know you need that CD again, because of all the bonuses! I'll bet FIF put just about everything from the Fillmore concert on both CDs. Both CDs? Five Iron is well known for "the hidden track." After the bonus track of the studio side, there is approximately 30 minutes of dialog, jokes, quips, thanks and goodbyes from the band's final concert. There's plenty of the same on "the hidden track" of the live The End is Near.
The End is Near studio portion runs at a fast and frenetic pace, with the slowest entries, "Wizard Needs Food, Badly" and "Farewell to Arms," which walk at about the speed of "Second Season" from our newest album ever!, and reggae-flavored "See the Flames Begin to Crawl." There are instant classics here, namely aforementioned "Cannonball" and "See the Flames," as well as a re-writing of "Every New Day," called "On Distant Shores." Detractors of FIF often note that the band's lyrics--most written by Roper--are autobiographical (most visible in "At Least I'm Not Like All Those Other Old Guys," "So Far, So Bad," and "That's How the Story Ends"), but Roper explains during the live portion of the recording that FIF wraps things up. Finally, there are sharp yet not biting lyrics on this studio project (compare "Farewell to Arms" to "Four-Fifty-One" from All the Hype That Money Can Buy).
The packaging is excellent--and fun--as well. The studio End is Near portion has full libretto, credits, and really spiffy Ten Napel artwork (including the "death" and "resurrection" of the FIF monster bunny). The live End is Here pull-out poster does not have liner notes; one side is photos of the band, and the other side is photos of the audience.
Over its eight years, FIF kept its character, identity and purpose intact and never really swayed off course. Get your skanking shoes out for The End is Here (both CDs), and enjoy! FIF ends this project aptly, with "Every New Day," the audience singing "Amazing Grace." Finally, Roper says, "This might seem stupid, but it's snowing outside, so I'm gonna sing this song"--"Silent Night," with the audience chiming in. Fitting, beautiful and wonderful. "Game over"?
Olin Jenkins May 26, 2004