Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Get Up Kids @ Gramercy Blender Theater 10.30.09

I consider myself a decent singer. One time maybe 2 years ago at Botanica on Houston, I was at the bar waiting to get a drink and a girl next to me mentioned that I had a very nice singing voice. I thanked her and offered to buy her a drink. She said that she was good and didn't need one, and I joked that I could buy her a water. She didn't really think it was funny, and I joked "weeeak" and she totally called me out on the fact that I was being arrogant when she was just trying to pay a compliment.

I guess that's how this review has started so far.

I usually try to sing at concerts if I'm into the band and know all or most of their catalog and if I feel I'm not doing a disgrace to their vocals by joining in. The Get Up Kids are one such band that I have enjoyed since Four Minute Mile. I sang my heart out at this show, and lost my voice a little bit at two points.

The music was grittier back during Woodson/Four Minute Mile and the other earlier recordings, and the guitars bled in a way that reminded me of a contemporary of theirs, Jimmy Eat World. It's like you are right there in a tiny room listening to their high pitched, fast picking Kansas bravado, so earnest and yet with smart lyrics. Their lyrics would grow more refined on Something to Write Home About as well as a full addition of one of my favorite musicians in James Dewees. The way things started to rhyme was one thing, but also the bare boned simplicity at some points was great.

There are pieces of On a Wire and The Guilt Show that I enjoy but I don't think they compare. There are some nice pieces on Eudora, a compilation they released that I have two copies of because I thought I lost it the first time.

Wearing my buttoned up polo and Metroschifter pin (who have a new album out called Carbonistas, if you are not familiar with them I highly suggest reading up on them) me and several buddies got drinks at Black Bear Lodge before hand and jumped right in as GUK was starting up. At the Black Bear Lodge there was a hilarious coincidence when the bouncer and a baby were inspired by a large animal:

Like Jimmy Eat World again, The Get Up Kids actually have two lead singers; Matt Pryor is generally considered the frontman but Jim Suptic sings some of their most pivotal songs like "Ten Minutes".

I've gone to several reunion shows in the past while, but The Get Up Kids just strike an easy chord for me. I feel like they get a lot of unjustified flack AND praise for being an "emo" band, that term which most people couldn't care less about. It's hard to define their sound which makes a return so welcome in an ever increasing hole that permeates current bands shoved into the same genres. They just do everything better, simple as that. From the very underrated rhythm section of the Pope brothers to Pryor's searing voice (it's piercing and has so much force behind it when he's full blast, almost like an extra distorted guitar) and Suptic's more warm, rounded, blunt singing, all overshadowed by the guitars that almost work as constantly as say Hot Rod Circuit's.

"See those blinding lights? It's call hope. And masks the fact that they totally were picking their noses"

They are also a band that is cohesive in feel and tone; the only thing that I'm thinking of in my chicken wing induced food drunk right now is like a ride that is not too fast but not the Scrambler? Anyone? Or driving with the window down at say 65 miles an hour. Not gunning it because you want to take in the moments, but with an urgency that pushes you to peak. They have breakdowns at the right moments, chorus melodies that linger for just the right amount of beats; it just all works. Some may call it unoriginal or just blah, but in nearly all of their work and especially the best of their work, it's very personal and can have a wonderfully intimate quality which I love in my favorite bands.

I was nearly screaming out all the lyrics, every word. We had a great view from the back, as the Blender has a nice up slope as you get back by the bars. GUK never has moshing at their concerts which I always found interesting; even at Motion City Soundtrack shows there are circle pits. I always think it is because GUK can have a sense of "older and wiser" as a theme, and maybe that's reflected in the crowd. Not that a good pit means younger and dumber, it's just every once in a while it's good to take a break.

They rolled out songs from every album/compilation (I was hoping for a Coalesce cover) including Replacements and Cure covers. A healthy dose of Four Minute Mile was great; it's their most stripped down and scrappiest work and hits hardest. They also made it through probably my favorite song of theirs "Close To Home" which was awesome enough to give me some sort of righteous conviction which I didn't use toward anything, it just sat in my soul through the rest of the concert. They were able to overcome the uneven sound of the venue to punch out an hour and 15 minutes of pure 1997-2002. Every crescendo, every rising riff was accounted for with my fist pumps and torso tilts. Their songs are like personal anthems; not epic statements, but of one heart at a time, one memory at a time.

Edit update: My buddy went for a second night on Saturday, as GUK dressed up as characters from the Wizard of Oz (a Kansas nod, perhaps) and played Something to Write Home About in it's entirety, which is redonculous.

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