Hereís a eulogy for a local-level high school band I never saw, just a few beats away from exposure and adulation. Hailing from Northampton, Mass., indie rock band Stand Up Get Down managed to put out a full-length, We Have Something to Celebrate, a day and a year before this writing (their last show was July 20, 2007, if you were wondering). A local label, Topshelf Records, pressed the album and mailed it out to Punknews.org, and hey, it only took a year to get come my way.
We always hear about the ďbigĒ music scenes. We know about Athens indie and Seattle grunge and D.C. hardcore. But unless you lived there, all you can really go on are the stories. You might have seen R.E.M. in a large-scale venue, but that doesnít count. So while I love Nirvana and enjoy watching old videos of the band, in the end all I have to go on are secondhand experiences. They were never "my" band. Hell, Kurt Cobain killed himself when I was eight-years-old. The band was a ghost before I even knew what was going on.
But we never hear about the smaller level stories. Prior to being mailed this record, Iíd never heard of Stand Up Get Down, so for all I know they may have been shat on constantly, hence their quick demise. But the playing on We Have Something to Celebrate is so assured and triumphant that the title doesnít sound forced. On my own local level, I know Iíve played with bands like this one. Acts like Backseat Driver and No Outlet played with an indie cool that concealed the hot rhythms they smuggled into VFW halls. On a national, more understandable comparison, I hear a band not too removed from the Promise Ring circa 30į Everywhere. Which makes listening to this record depressing, because we all know what came after that.
We Have Something to Celebrate is all Stand Up Get Down left me, though, and thatís all I have to go on. A look at Last.fm shows the band was never too big (276 plays), and thatís a shame. This albumís 10 jams play the `90s indie rock playbook well. Aside from the Promise Ring, the album will surely appeal to fans of Sebadoh and (donít oversell it, Jelone) maybe even early Weakerthans. The intro track, ďMy Life in a Balloon and the Day It Burst,Ē abruptly, uncomfortably stops to get out of the way of track two, ďGiants,Ē but the lack of actual segue lends the album a small band homemade touch. This bump aside, the record is solid.
On a national level, Iíve grown disillusioned with emo music. I miss the indie-infused `90s incarnation, and I really didnít expect to hear any throwbacks to that anytime soon. Stand Up Get Down didnít carry much angst, but they had the aesthetic sound down. Even the album artwork, complete with hazy sky-n-trees shots and even a photo of the band members huddled together with only their feet and hands shown, hearkens back to that era. Iím not sure what the former bandmates are up to now, if they have further musical aspirations or if theyíre just trying to finish school. Regardless, they should be proud of putting out a full-length, which is more than I ever did (three EPs and a split, all self-released). And while Iím ultimately hearing only part of the bandís story, I hope their friends up north still spin this album and smile. I think itís important to remember the local causes. In my case, that means bands old and new like the Next Big Thing, the Premier, Nutbox, Ancestor, and more. If you know these bands, congrats, we share an experience. If not, well then, theyíre just stories. But hopefully youíll think theyíre good ones.