Monday, June 27, 2005

Concert Review: The Get Up Kids

On Thursday night I saw emo-heroes, The Get Up Kids, come through Philly for the last time. Here's my review of the show in an effort to widen the topics here on Woodshavings.

On Thursday night, emo-core mainstays, The Get Up Kids, brandished beers and broken hearts for the last time in Philadelphia for a sold out crowd at the Electric Factory.

Born out of Kansas City, Mo., the Kids have been writing songs of love and loss for a decade, while trying to blend their hardcore roots into infectious pop rock. They nearly succeeded. The Get Up Kids will be remembered as one of the most popular originators of that musical subdivision, emo. Emo's that mixture of punk rock and hardcore influences combined with the confessional lyrics of a sixteen-year-old girl's diary. But the time came for them to hang up their melancholy chords to the disappointment of Philly's indie music scene with lead singer, Matt Pryor, telling the crowd, "Thank you very much Philadelphia, goodbye ladies and gentlemen."

Opening up, Pryor belted out "Coming Clean" with his nasally whine from their early album Four Minute Mile, with a clean transition into the crowd favorite "Holiday" from their masterpiece album, Something To Write Home About. Between the songs, Pryor ran over to keyboardist James Dewees and gave him an affectionate hug to thunderous applause from a smattering of late teens and twenty somethings.

One of the reasons why emo bands such as the Get Up Kids proved so popular over the last couple of years was their ability to write songs that resonated with a young and increasingly alienated middle-class white base. When Pryor crooned, "I'm down for whatever...," from the song, "Action and Action," he put to music the theme of a generation of disaffected suburban souls craving affirmation and self-confidence while battling manicured boredom.

Over successive releases, the Kids have been cultivating a slower, poppier sound, and their evolution could be felt on Thursday night as they ripped through songs covering their progression from post-hardcore influenced emo to Beatlesque rock n' roll. During "Let the Reigns Go Loose," Pryor raised his acoustic guitar in triumph as the crowd suffocated him in applause. Yet whenever Pryor and company ventured into their slower musical catalogue, they came driving back with songs of emo-pop perfection such as "Martyr Me" from their latest disc Guilt Show, or possibly their most popular track, "I'm a Loner Dottie, a Rebel," with Pryor screaming, "One night, doesn't mean the rest of my life," to the raised fists and glasses of the love-lorn mob.

One of the more enjoyable aspects of the show was The Kids ability to know what the crowd wanted to hear. Each and every song they played meet an echo of kids screaming Pryor's pitter-patter heavy heart lyrics back into his mic.

And when the band left the stage before their first encore, no one was fooled with everyone like concrete blocks weighed down in place awaiting the next set. During the five song encore, the Kids boiled down their history to an essence of perfection, ending with "I'll Catch You," with Pryor singing, "No need for reminding, you're still all that matters to me." And just like that, The Get Up Kids vanished into the darkness of an Electric Factory black light, never to return.
God, this kind of stuff is so much more fun to write.