The Get Up Kids
with Hankshaw and Hot Rod Circuit
The Covered Dish, Gainesville, FL • September 27, 1999
To my dismay, on my arrival Hankshaw was already well into its set; I had expected them to have the middle slot. This Tampa quartet with guitar, bass, drums, and vox plays an indie pop style with just a touch of emo. But you won’t hear any shouting, the band’s focal point are the angelic vocals of the male lead singer whose voice most people (on just hearing a recording) mistake for female. He really sings great, a perfect pop voice, and the instrumentalists compliment him well, giving an edgy counterpoint to the vocals. Despite that the guitarist uses alternate tunings (I only know this because he re-tuned between songs), the effect is totally natural and not artsy, as this style can easily turn. Hankshaw got a well-deserved reception, the best for an opener I have seen at the Dish (whose patrons, like many crowds, all too often simply disregard the opener) in quite awhile. For a band with a bald (OK, it was shaved) guitarist and a singer who sounds like a girl, Hankshaw is about as cool as it gets (including Smashing Pumpkins, heh heh).
Hot Rod Circuit, another quartet, this one from Connecticut (via Auburn, Alabama), came on next. With two guitars, their sound was much more “rock” in contrast to Hankshaw’s pop. The lead singer, playing an offset Fender (Jazzmaster or Jaguar) had a good voice with more edge to it, without getting overly shouty, and the bassist contributed some great backing vocals. The lead guitarist, playing a Mustang, jumped around like a maniac and played some really great tastefully trashy stuff. A lot of emo bands don’t have any lead guitar work to speak of, and while HRC’s guitar “leads” were still a lot more integrated into the overall sound than tradrock leads, I really liked what the guitarist did. Only minor complaint was that he often played to his amp, which may’ve been in part due to the large stage at the Dish, but I’d rather he just have got more guitar in his monitors and played more to the audience.
The Get-Up Kids, a quintet who announced themselves as from Kansas City, closed. In addition to the same instrument line-up as Hot Rod Circuit, the Get-Up Kids featured a keyboardist with two keyboards, one an old analog Moog. Although there were two guitarists, it seemed they both pretty much played rhythm; those “integral” emo leads aforementioned were instead supplied by the keyboards. Backing vocals were also mainly supplied by the keyboardist, with occasional help from the second guitarist playing an SG. The Get-Up Kids’ sound was stylistically in-between Hankshaw’s indie pop and HRC’s indie rock, and for some reason I still can’t place (maybe I was just burned out after seeing 3 bands with pretty similar styles, or just tired), the Get-Up Kids were not quite as interesting to me as their openers. This is not to say they didn’t put on a solid, entertaining set, telling an interesting anecdote here and there, and getting on everyone’s good side by dedicating a song to hometown heroes Hot Water Music.
A really fine tour with 3 good bands, definitely worth checking out!