with Mandarin and the Get Up Kids

RKCNDY, Seattle, WA • October 9, 1999

First off, no complaints about the music. What I just didn’t get was the audience. I don’t know if this is happening across the nation, or if it’s just something that’s happened here in Seattle, but it was almost frightening. Maybe it was because it was Saturday night in the big city. Maybe because the club was almost overflowing with 18 year old kids. Maybe it’s because the music was tight and loud and charged with electric life… maybe it’s because here in Seattle the drinking water is flooded with Valium. Whatever the reason, there was very little motion at all. Here I am, heading towards being twice as old as most kids at this all ages emo-fest, and I’m pretty much the only one bouncing around. When I was 18, you couldn’t keep me and my friends down… we were bouncing off the walls, we were living in the music, not just passively letting it flow over our heads. What happened to the kids? Enough “back in the good old days” whining, sorry… let me tell you about this here band from New York. They call themselves Joshua.

The J. Robbins/Burning Airlines/Jawbox influence is impossible to miss in this sound, and I suspect that’s what kept most of the audience enthralled. It could’ve just been the band, though. The high energy and non-stop drive surrounded the crowd, and every song took off from the end of the previous one. Having been listening to their latest CD, A Whole New Theory , I was feeling familiar with most of the songs they played, though I was very pleased to find their live performance surpassing the tightness and power of their recorded work. The guitars twisted and tangled across the stage without missing a chord, and the drummer moved through his kit like a passionate metronome. Perfect time, but full of life. The size of the club could have caused some problems in the sound, blank wall bouncing, but between the soundman and the band they managed to fill the air with just the right kind of noise. The vocals flew, and it was that ache you feel when you’re listening to that high clear guitar squeal and your heart just matches the flight. Throwing in a couple of slower songs, changing the mood to dark, Joshua moved the entire audience down with them, and when we least expected it, they brought us up into perfect pop smiles. And we danced, finally. We moved with the music.

Few words were spoken between songs, but enough stage banter to keep us kids smiling, and pleased that the people on stage were people… not just some untouchable rock band. They shared with us, so we gave back our attention and our smiles… especially when they jumped on to that “we’re a kinda emo band so we’re gonna play an 80’s song” bandwagon. I’m not sure what the deal with that is, but hell… it’s fun, so when Joshua broke into their Depeche Mode cover, I was grinning. Maybe it’s to make us older folk feel older. I don’t know, I just sang along… “I’m going for a ride…” Yeah.

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