It was 1998 when I first discovered the Rock Opera about pants. As an awkward teenager with little exposure to contemporary music, I didn’t get the references. Bruce Springsteen? Lounge music? They didn’t really make sense but I still thought it was funny.
As I picked up more of their music, the humor and wisdom of Five Iron Frenzy started to reveal itself to me. They were the underdogs with a positive outlook on life. They were on the side of the little guy, the broken, the abused. A contemporary band with songs about abuses against Native Americans, taking sides to defend those bullied and beat down by our culture. Here they were, a hodgepodge of Christians and irreligious alike trying to lead by love and call out a culture of excess and hatred while having a lot of fun doing it.
When I was at a really low point during my sophomore year of college, Five Iron broke up. Their farewell tour came through town and it was, with self deprecation at an all time high, called the “Winners Never Quit” tour.
The show and the experience were both incredible. They were able to break into the depression and sadness I was living in, reminding me of the hope and joy that can exist in this life. After the show I was able to talk to some of the band and left feeling supported, loved and affirmed. I have carried this with me since then, even befriending one of the band members amidst shared affinities for church, cities and people.
Then, they returned, thanks to Kickstarter and the diehard fans. Now they are a decade older and a bit more sarcastic, yet they have the same level of energy as the first go around. Friday’s Five Iron reemergence in Royal Oak was only their ninth show in nine years. It was a reunion of sorts, as their old friends opened for them, sound systems died, and lyrics were forgotten. And it was beautiful.
Some things are hard to put into words. Seeing the faces of the old fans mixed withi people who had only just heard of Five Iron a few weeks before was unforgettable. For one night, the world made sense, we had a party, and we cursed the injustices and danced about the joys of this life. And this time my little brother got to share in it.
Years ago, Five Iron’s words, grace, and example changed my life. They challenged me to embrace my whole person and make the most of every opportunity. And this legacy lives on as they continue on. New fans and old will see them for the first time and rejoice at what we can be. Thank you, Five Iron. I’m waiting for tomorrow and my heart is on my sleeve, thanks to you.