with Poly Esther, The Reunion Show, Recover

The Factory, Ft. Lauderdale, FL • October 13, 2002

My interest in Midtown consisted of “hey, that’s the dude who banged the emo chick on The Real World” prior to the show, and seeing the band live did little more to pique my interest. While they represent everything sinister about the punk rock nowadays, their sincerity makes it impossible to truly hate them, and that pisses me off.

I should discuss the other bands before I get too angry. Poly Esther is a punk rock band with a bassist who wears eyeliner. Unfortunately that’s all I know about them, since I arrived during their last song.

I was late because I was arguing with the long-haired dude at the door. The Factory is actually pretty cool, where metal and neon lights never die. The place has more memorabilia on the walls than a Hard Rock Café and everyone who works there looks as if he begins every story with “When I was on tour with•”. I thought I spotted some teeth on the floor.

Anyways, back to the show. The Reunion Show is an up-and-coming, deliriously catchy punk outfit with Brian Diaz, singer from former underground ska favorites Edna’s Goldfish. I think they’ll eventually follow the New Found Glory, Sum 41, and Good Charlotte path to pop-punk stardom, but I don’t think I’d mind a bit, because they’re funny and engaging. The ska is gone, but it’s replaced with a Get Up Kids style penchant for Moog organs. Incredibly catchy hooks and dual vocals complete the equation. It’s the type of music that my roommate listens to when she’s getting dressed and psyched for a big rock and roll evening out. The kids at the show weren’t totally into it as “the pit” consisted of two twelve-year-olds running back and forth. Hopefully their mothers picked them up early.

The next band, Recover, officially holds the Badass Award for the evening. The singer reminded me of a slightly more conservative Jessie Camp (remember him? The MTV VJ who was stuck in the ’70s?) I’ve never been a fan of Recover’s music. The heavy guitars clash with the urgent whining like a preteen DJ trying to mix Metallica and Bjork. The whole thing is like an auditory train wreck but as terrible as it is, you can’t turn away because their stage show is so entertaining. During the show, the band encouraged the kids to mix ecstasy with alcohol and to engage in other delinquent behaviors. Why, the ending alone was worth the gas money to get out there: they completely wrecked the stage, grunge style. I even spotted the guitar player slashing the strings of one of the memorabilia guitars in The Factory with the neck of his guitar. I’m sure the guy with the mullethawk behind the bar loved that one.

Finally Midtown took the stage, complete with a rock-and-roll lighted “Midtown Saves” sign behind the drumset. The corporate punk rock machine began to turn its mighty wheels and the peppy songs about girls and heartbreak spewed forth. I recognized most from their new album, Living Well is the Best Revenge. It’s surprising that I did though, because they all sound exactly the same. Girls and more girls. More clever breakdowns. Tight thrift store shirts and Dickies pants. Middle schoolers rocking out in the front. They are everything the television dictates they should be.

However extreme my resentment was, I feel no actual malice. They seemed happy to be on their first headlining tour and happy that the kids knew every word to every song. The singer took some kid’s cell phone and called his dad; that was pretty entertaining. Their rock is tight and their performance even tighter, although not as badass as Recover.

After the obligatory encore, the metal guys pushed the kids out onto the street. I was glad to find out that Midtown consisted of a little more than the singer’s brief stint on The Real World, but once again, I stress the word “little.”

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