The Get Up Kids, Youth Group, Pretty and Nice – Neumo’s

Show three of my triplet of emotional shows. Show one: Sunny Day Real Estate secret show of powerful emotions. Show two: Grand Hallway and crying-in-public inducing full orchestra. Show three: The Get Up Kids laugh at their own pain a little. Unfortunately, after hanging out with my sister, who accompanied me to the show, and eating glorious falafel, I ended up missing the first band, Pretty and Nice. Sorry dudes and/or ladies.

Youth Group
After shimmying up to the front and meeting up with my acquaintances and meeting someone else my sister knows, we had prime spots for Youth Group. We had listened to their songs a little before the show and went in with the impression that they would sound pretty much like The Smiths. After their set, this impression was modified to include The Flaming Lips and The Cure as well. The Flaming Lips mostly because of the lead singer’s haircut, but also because they seemed pretty happy up there. A couple people in the crowd were really stoked on them. My sister and I looked at each other and scrunched up our shoulders saying, “This is better than we expected.” They even had one song that I really liked, but they followed it up with a cover of “Forever Young” (yes, that one) that I didn’t.

The Get Up Kids
I can remember the first moment I heard The Get Up Kids. It was Santa Cruz, 1996. Or Maybe 1997. My Sophomore year of college. I picked up a copy of the Doghouse Fifty sampler at the local record store because the newest Hot Water Music record was on Doghouse and they had a song on it. Also, I love compilations. The first song on that CD is “Don’t Hate Me” by The Get Up Kids. I was sitting on the tattered brown couch in the hardwood floor living room next to my college girlfriend and we both kind of lost our mind a little bit when we pressed play on the $5 CD player we got at the garage sale down the street when her fancy pioneer 5-disc changer went kaput. Soon after, we picked up Four Minute Mile and listened and sang along about a million times. It was perfect for the warm days and mild nights of Santa Cruz. Particularly when I longed for them and her from the confines of my hometown, 1000 miles away.

The secret to The Get Up Kids for me is that they are basically the same age as I am. I feel a little like we grew up together. Stopped yelling so much and started looking back on ourselves and laughing at how much we cared about things. Maybe helping out on the Reggie and the Full Effect records gave us some perspective. When Something to Write Home About came out, I was just graduating from college and beginning to see that maybe everything wasn’t going to be awesome forever. In fact, things went quite horribly wrong only a year or two after the record came out. After that first apocalypse, I searched for things to save me and rediscovered Something to Write Home About. My sister and I would sing along with this record in the old Mitsubishi while her friend cowered in the back in fear of us. These years are all getting confused in my mind at this point, since I spent a long time trying to forget them. When I saw them at the RCKNDY (only my second or third show there ever), I was singing so loud. I made myself a mix CD to survive those days and I guarantee a Get Up Kids song was on there.

The Get Up Kids came back to town during these dark times and let me and my sister the hell down. They had lasers and keyboards all of the sudden and they looked like they hated each other. The show was pretty terrible, the new record was pretty terrible. At a time when I needed sad songs or hopeful songs, they shoveled out piles of garbage. They apparently made another record after that, which I never bought or wanted to buy. It was kind of like finding out the girl I loved in college married a douche. It ruined her image in my mind as well and I no longer wanted anything to do with it.

Now, it’s 2009 and they won’t let me down again, will they? Will they!? The show was packed and pressing me into a strange tall guy and the back of my writer acquaintance. The first song was not a let down. I was singing along again. Even though they brought their keyboard friend. My sister was there singing along too. (Well, only on the Something to Write Home About songs, of course). A bunch of friends and people I just met were singing along, too. The short girl next to me was trying to not pass out by putting her hand on my back and resting her head on my shoulder. And we were all singing along. Maybe some people felt that twinge of sadness in the room, but I felt it more as a little remembered sadness instead of a present sadness. A little self-deprecating, like my tattoo that has a period at the start and the end of the word like it’s 1993 or something. Like we can’t take all this sadness so seriously all the time but we can let it go and look at it and laugh at ourselves a little bit. Luckily, they didn’t play “I’ll Catch You” which probably would have sent me back to the Grand Hallway show mood of sadness and strength in it. Instead they ended with “Ten Minutes.” In my mind, this song has always been about depending on someone else to save you, to convince you that everything will be okay. “Maybe things are getting better. Maybe things aren’t so bad…” It’s good to have this reminder. That maybe things will get better or maybe they already are. But to rely on others for your happiness is risky business. They always let you down. They’ll go marry a douche, for example. Or, simply, they’ll be so caught up in themselves that they lose track of what’s really important. Folks, maybe things aren’t so bad. “Everything will work out.”

And so ends my retrospective series on the three most emotional shows of 2009. I reveled in the power of my emotions and the range of my high-pitched voice on Wednesday. I cried a little in celebration of my strength and my beliefs and my survival on Thursday. I laughed at myself a little and reinforced the idea that everything will be okay on Friday. It would be good to take a break from all these emotions for a while. All my future show reviews are probably going on thesunbreak.com so they won’t be so intensely personal. And they won’t frighten off my last google reader subscriber. But who knows? Maybe she’ll come back anyways. Or maybe my date tomorrow will go really well, instead. All I know is forward. And forward will contain lots of music.

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