Tuesday evening: usually an uneventful affair. This particular Tuesday evening, however, had the potential to remain in the minds of many as the Get Up Kids returned to the Buffalo area for the first time in who knows how long. The opening acts on this night were the Life and Times and Kevin Devine.
I arrived at the venue during the Life and Times’ set, and remained in the main bar area until Kevin Devine came onstage. Having only heard of Kevin Devine and not his work, I kept an open ear and mind to the music. His set seemed to be stuck in the slow-to-mid-tempo style of song, the first song featuring just him on guitar before the backing band made their way to their respective instruments. At times the only comparison I could make of his music was a Pavement/Mineral/Elliott Smith combination of sounds. He was able to get most of the crowd into his songs, although I didn’t really observe many actual fans of his present. He had a pretty comfortable stage presence, gently heckling a crowd member lame enough to yell “Freebird” in between songs. Not bad for having no expectations whatsoever.
Then it was time to get ready for the Get Up Kids. The venue was beginning to look at least three-quarters full by this time. I made my way onto the main floor and by sheer coincidence stood next to a friend of mine from high school who attended an MxPx show with me back in 1998 when we first heard of and witnessed the Get Up Kids, as they opened that particular show. Both of us couldn’t believe the situation, as we hadn’t talked to each other in years and didn’t even know either of us still lived in the area. I will end this tangent by saying it felt like quite the foreshadowing of the event that was to take place.
The lights began to dim and a guy walked onstage and proceeded to ask us to take a trip back in time. The time was 1999, and he asked us what band was being played on the radio back then. Some of the crowd shouted “The Get Up Kids!”, even though I don’t remember them ever being played on the radio at any point of their career, especially in the Buffalo area (even though I was in college 250 miles away during that era). Anyway, the band made their way to the stage and announced the first song as being “Action & Action."
In short, the set was great, with the band playing “Your Petty Pretty Things” and another new song during the set, which surprisingly they made little mention of either before or after playing the songs. The second new song sounded great, with a real bass-heavy groove to it, and along with “Your Petty…” sounded like On a Wire/The Guilt Show-era Get Up Kids. There really wasn’t a bad song in the set, with every member completely in step with each other. The stage banter was minimal, with Jim Suptic saying “thanks” after a few songs, and Matt Pryor introducing a song or two with its song title. I wouldn’t say this was a bad thing, as it meant less time between songs. Jim, Matt, Rob and Ryan engaged in a lot of eye contact and “rocking out” moments with various crowd members, with James keeping intense focus on his keyboards and his side of the stage, which is weird as he is/was a frontman himself.
The crowd breakdown seemed to be about 70% longtime fans, 20% “newer” fans, with the remaining people seeming to be present to see what all the fuss is/was about this band. Every song, aside from the two new songs and the two songs from The Guilt Show, turned into a huge sing-along and pogo fest. I know my voice was hoarse by the midpoint of the set with my (out of tune) singing.
The guy who made the initial introduction came out for the encore as well, stating that we were in the present time, and also to acknowledge the Get Up Kids’ set. As the encore ended (with “Ten Minutes,” a good choice), I quickly made my way to the restroom as I was somehow able to mentally push aside my full bladder throughout the Get Up Kids’ set. While I was washing my hands, a kid questioned all who were present in the restroom “Don’t you wish it was 1999 again?” At the time I laughed, as he said in a lower voice “...even though I was only 11 back then.” But as I made my way back to my vehicle and “Company Dime” from Something to Write Home About played on the stereo, I gave some serious thought to the anonymous kid's query.
It was about this time ten years ago that I picked up Something to Write Home About on a trip home for October break, and then got to see the Get Up Kids again, twice in one weekend that fall semester of my freshman year of college. The opening bands for those memorable shows: Ultimate Fakebook and At the Drive-In. I smiled and thought to myself that maybe it wouldn't be that bad to take a trip back, if only for a weekend or so.
Set list (from what I can remember, as I didn’t/couldn’t write it down during the set):
- Action & Action
- Coming Clean
- Ann Arbour
- Never Be Alone
- Your Petty Pretty Things
- No Love
- Martyr Me
- Close to Home
- second new song, unknown title
- Mass Pike
- Campfire Kansas
- I’m a Loner, Dottie, A Rebel…
- Walking on a Wire
- Don’t Hate Me
- I’ll Catch You
- Ten Minutes