The word history usually seems to bring about cringes to many faces. It seemed to be the class that most kids fell asleep in during High School, because it didn't affect their lives so why worry? Then there are Vietnam and World War vets, where history is important to them, because it was their life, they lived it, and you should know all about it. Then there are the exceptions, the kid in the corner of the room who listens with intent and does his homework every night, hoping to learn a little more about the past. He may not understand everything, but he gets the point of history, even if it isn't full comprehension. On this particular night, I was that kid in the corner, listening with intent, knowing that I was about to get one of the best history lessons ever.
Braid decided to call it quits in 1999. Around this time, I was 12 years old, and my favorite bands at the time involved spelling-altered food (Korn and Bizkit for all those keeping track). So understandably, an emo band from the Chicago suburbs breaking up didn't exactly make my list of things happening in the music world. However 5 years is a long time to grow and since then, I had shelved the nu-metal and used the power of the internet to tap into the vast resource of music. Among my stumblings through various websites, one influential band that kept popping up was Braid. After checking out some of the songs, I could hear and understand exactly why this band was powerful....and was depressed they weren't still together. So when talks of a reunion tour sprang up, I knew I would be there, even if I technically didn't own any of the albums yet (key word 'yet'...go christmas list), but would go for the history lesson.
After stumbling into Mad Planet and waiting for about 20 minutes, out came opening band Temper Temper!. TT! is comprised of lots of former members of various hardcore bands, now put together to assemble an all out dirty rock n roll assault. If Since By Man and Hot Hot Heat could somehow have a child, Temper Temper! would be the offspring. The rhythm section puts together danceable beats, while the guitar jitters over with lots of feedback and riffing, as well as the keyboardist adding in various sound effects and a new wave sensibility. While all this is occurring, the skinniest vocalist I have ever personally seen (I'm not kidding...dude is freakin tiny) slithers over and around the stage, with a vocal range that comes out like a cross between Hot Hot Heat, The Killers, and Paris Texas. Sometimes the result comes out as sloppy with too many sounds attempting to assemble themselves at once, but for the most par, TT! set was a nice danceable 30 minutes of rock.
Next up were my boys, Action Heights signees the Response. This was my 7th time seeing the Response (and 3rd at Mad Planet), and these guys did what they always do: put on a fantastic set. For those unfamiliar with these Milwaukeeans, The Response find some sort of creepy middle ground between rock, punk, and hardcore...or as they said in a newspaper article once "Foo Fighters 'Colour And The Shape' era matched with Coheed and Cambria guitars with hooks like 'Your Favorite Weapon' era Brand New". Um...yea pretty much that's it. The band tore into "Sore Eyes", and continued to pound out their friendly punk edged sound for the next 30 minutes. The crowd seemed fairly unenthused about the band, but I sang along at the top of my lungs anyways and probably pissed off a few people. The Response bounced around the stage, shredded on the guitars, and gave an all out performance the way they always do. Kudos boys.
This whole time I had been standing second row, while all around me the boys and girls seemed really unenthused to be there. However once the Response was over, the crowd chatter lit up, people got more excited, and a lot of the creepier scene-kids crept up to the front. Reason you ask? Murder By Death. I'll be honest, Murder By Death isn't really my thing, but I will give the band credit for doing something creative and I do listen to their songs from time to time. The band played the same set as they had back in November when I saw them with Straylight Run, and according to my friend who enjoys the MBD, the same set as in February when on tour with Poison The Well. This time around, the cello seemed to get lost underneath the guitar, the keyboards/piano lost under the drums, the whole thing just seemed sort of mashed together. Even Murder By Death fans behind me commented that the set was "sloppy". Had I been a MBD-virgin, I most likely would not have walked away impressed as I did the first time I saw this band grace a stage.
And now the history lesson begins. The Braid-vets showed up, they were easy to spot as they were the somewhat older members of the crowd. The uninterested kids went to the back, and history-buffs like myself were waiting for our first and oddly enough last Braid show ever. This was the last date of the tour for Braid, which barring further reunions, pretty much made it their last US show as a collective band. People had come from all over to witness this show, as was evident when Braid asked the crowd who was from Milwaukee and who was from out of town. About 30% of the crowd were Brew Town bums...the rest were most likely Chicago kids, and even two kids who came from New York. After touring the country non-stop, one might think Braid would be tired and not up to par. The truth was anything but. The band came out and tore through their set, note for note, while a lot of the crowd shouted along word for word. I stood gazing, feeling bad for not knowing the lyrics by heart, but was taken in by how captivating the band was. For songs they did play, I can tell you that they went through "Killing A Camera", "Chandelier Swing", "What A Wonderful Puddle", "Forever Got Shorter", "Please Drive Faster", "(Strawberry Ann) Switzerland", and several others. There were no encores, since leaving the stage was near impossible considering the set up at Mad Planet, so the band just stayed on stage and played through all the songs they had prepared. All this amounted to an hour straight of wonderful music, and the band finally left, one member at a time, to a crowd that continued to applaud throughout.
To bring everything full circle, the members of Braid are veterans of the indie-rock scene. In a way someone gives a standing ovation to a general who commanded troops who stormed Normandy, the crowd gave the members of Braid the same warm ovation, for we recognized that these guys were influential, and even though they may be history, their songs will live on in the hearts of emo boys and girls everywhere. R.I.P. Braid...yes, once again.