The Get Up Kids at the Firebird, 7/15/11
"Remember when we used to play here all the time?" asked Get Up Kids guitarist Jim Suptic before the band moseyed into "Overdue." Its closing line "You're a few years overdue, I spent them waiting here for you" neatly summed up the attitude of the nostalgic audience. The evening was all about the memories. The crowd shouted along with singer Matt Pryor on classics like "I'm A Loner Dottie, A Rebel" and "No Love" while presumably remembering the high school romances that the songs once described. For me, "Action & Action" brought back vivid images of playing way too much Tetris when I was seventeen. But "Overdue" was flat, not just because the band's rendition was a tad lethargic. The track is a highlight from 2002's On A Wire, but even after nine years it was too new for the nostalgic Firebird crowd.
Until the end of its set, the Get Up Kids rigidly alternated between the oldies from its Four Minute Mile and Something To Write Home About records and cuts from this year's comeback album These Are Rules. Sentimental attachments aside, the band's new songs sounded best. This isn't surprising, since the often heart-sleeved band has more to prove with its new material. Even less surprising was the crowd's apathy. Pryor jokingly introduced the Rules track "Regent's Court" by saying "This next song is really good. It's probably the best song you've ever heard." Behind the humor was the truth that even such bold statements couldn't get some attendees to care about any of the band's song written after the year 2000; the singalong/drink break dynamic is too familiar at Get Up Kids shows.
Once a road-tightened unit, the band has loosened up in its reunited form. Its set devolved into inside-joke jamming between songs which ranged from charming (an off-the-cuff version of "Wipeout") to annoying (ending the encore with the riff from Black Sabbath's "Sweet Leaf" followed by a few minutes of ill-advised reggae). Jim Suptic was heckled during his solo performance of "Campfire Kansas," and he responded by inviting her onstage to sing with the band. She introduced herself as Abbey, grabbed the mic, and the Get Up Kids launched into a cover of a punk song she didn't know. She embraced the attention of embarrassment and became a side-stage fixture throughout the night; Pryor dedicated "Don't Hate Me" to her, changing the lyrics from "oh Amy don't hate me" to "oh Abby don't hate me."
Besides the name-drop, the choruses of "Don't Hate Me" sounded exactly like its official recording. "Red Letter Day" and "Ten Minutes" were received as anthems. Fans flooded the stage from the encore of "Holiday." Pryor sang "What became of everyone I used to know?" Judging by the amount of familiar and vaguely familiar faces around me, they all seemed to be in the room.
I missed the Caves, but the Globes sounded great. The Spokane band was a perfect warm up act, but the young quartet will have to add some frills to its conservative indie rock before graduating to headliner status.
Note: What is up with "USA" chants at shows lately? I understand the sarcastic Colbert Report-style patriotism, but after Of Montreal and Fucked Up, tonight's breakout makes me fear for an epidemic. With all the black-frames in the room (myself included), you'd think we'd get at least one instance of "USB! USB!" Hi-yo!!!!