College Rock

Back in 1999, my friend Joe asked me if I liked the band, The Get Up Kids.  I hadn’t heard them before and I can still picture standing outside his house when he described them to me as “college rock.”  I was sold!  I wasn’t sure what college rock was, but I pictured a band of dudes a little older than me, in sweaters, playing smart music, in a house somewhere.  The sweaters were not too far off considering the “EMO” movement was starting to hit my high school and I was about to start wearing sweaters with a collared shirt popping out all the time.

I’m not sure if he played any of The Get Up Kids music for me or if I did any more looking into them myself, but there I was heading over to Tower Records where I bought their first EP, Woodson.

I quickly became a big fan of their music.  I connected with the DIY, heart wrenching and aggressive feel of Woodson.  It is a raw and honest album that made me hopeful about playing music and being in a band.  Even hearing the title track, “Woodson” today, still gives me the excited feeling I had the first time I heard it.  The song starts with guitars slowly building up, strings bending, the drums coming in and then the desperate vocals kick in, “we can not work out what has to be said.” This opening line, wrought with frustration, feels so honest. The drums are choppy and relentless and keep the song moving along with an impatient bounce.  The second track, “Second Place” keeps up the album’s momentum.  It comes in aggressive and immediately I’m bopping my head along and singing, “it’s not what I said.” The entire song is catchy and anthemic; it makes you want to get up and move. It is followed by “Off the Wagon” a choppy and powerful song with a build up that shows the importance of anticipation, tension…and snare rolls.  The music comes in like a storm building up over the ocean that explodes and dissipates quickly making way for the moody last track.  The last song of this EP, “A New Found Interest in Massachusetts” was my favorite song for a while and still holds up as one of my favorites today.  The slow build up and fade of the music as Matt Pryor begins to sing is so heartfelt. I love the honesty of the lyrics, “If I told you that I was thinking of moving east, would you save a place for me?”  The interplay of the soft  and loud moments, leading up to an explosion of sound is so perfect.  On its own it is a great song and it is also a stellar finish to a great album.

I was very lucky to see some of these songs live this past Thursday, December 10, 2015.  I went to The Bell House to see The Get Up Kids on their 20th anniversary tour. The show was amazing.  I got so caught up with the crowd…the community.  I, and everyone else in the room, was singing and screaming along with every song as though we were telling the band what the lyrics were, how they went and the way they were supposed to sound.  They didn’t need it, they sounded great, but I’m sure they loved the crowd’s enthusiasm.  They mainly played all older songs off  Woodson, Four Minute Mile and Something to Write Home About.  They played so passionately. I was incredibly impressed.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the two opening bands, Rozwell Kid and Into it.  Over it.  They both were great.  Rozwell Kid gave me a bit of a Weezer vibe with their sweet guitar parts.  Into it.  Over it. were so well put together and tight.  I really took notice of the lead singer’s voice and the drummer really tied the room together.  Amazing show.

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