As is often the case with seminal bands, The Get Up Kids saw the genre they helped create, the late ’90s strain of emotional power pop, get turned into a veritable industry juggernaut, one which soon left them in dust. Not that the feeling wasn’t somewhat mutual. On their later albums TGUK seemed to be haunted by their own musical ghost, never able to shake the dreaded “emo” label, but never able to parlay it into any overwhelming commercial success either. This no doubt contributed to the band’s break-up a few years back, as the members splintered off into solo projects and other bands; frontman Matt Pryor with his New Amsterdams, guitarist Jim Suptic fronting Blackpool Lights, keyboardist James Dewees with his alter ego Reggie and the Full Effect and bassist Rob Pope joining up with indie darlings Spoon.
Some three years removed from their ostensible breakup, rumors began circulating of a possible reunion, which indeed took place in the bands hometown of Lawrence Kansas in November of 2008, with two other shows following suit. The Great American Music Hall in San Francisco played host to the fourth of these reunion shows, which will continue onward to LA, New York and a couple of festivals before the summer is out. With no record to promote, and no announced plans for an official rebanding, the motivation for these shows is anyone’s guess. Perhaps they just needed a little bump in their bank accounts. Perhaps this is a dry run for a full fledged reunion. Perhaps they were just bored and decided to take a road trip. Whatever the back story, all that mattered to the throngs assembled, waiting out the set by valiant but doomed-to-fail opening act, Kansas City rapper Approach, was that the Get Up Kids were back, at least for tonight. And back they were.
Drawing from every one of their full lengths and EPs, from 1997′s Four Minute Mile, to their 2004 swansong Guilt Show, the Get Up Kids proved to be in inspiring form, if a little rusty now and then. More importantly, the band seemed to be having a genuinely great time themselves. And it had to feel good, that the crowd, a roaring sea of mostly twenty-somethings knew every word to every song, and were not shy in singing along. From the opening pick scrapes of “Holilday” to the closing crash of “I’ll Catch You” the feeling was more of a family reunion than a band reunion. And the signifigance of those two songs, which also serve as the bookends of the Kids’ most timeless and arguably popular record, 1999′s Something to Write Home About was doubtlessly coincidental either. The Get Up Kids, at least for one night, finally came to terms with their past, the future be damned. And though they were preaching to the choir to a certain extent, no one in attendance could doubt their standing as one of the most important rock bands of the last decade, and beyond. It was definitely something to write home about, or at least to write blogs about.
Tags: alter ego, blackpool lights, emotional power, great american music, Great American Music hall, indie darlings, james dewees, juggernaut, lawrence kansas, opening act, overwhelming commercial success, Reggie and the Full Effect, Rob Pope, seminal bands, solo projects, swansong, throngs