The Get Up Kids
with Brian Bonz & the Major Crimes, You Blew It
The Social, Orlando, FL • February 24, 2011
There Are Rules, The Get Up Kids’ fifth and most recent album, serves as my official introduction to the 15-year-old predecessors of the pop punk genre that would eventually become emo. For this reason, my impression of the band is that they’re a synth rock band that has a love of bass riffs and guitar distortion, and an ear for melodies that are just rough enough to not sound too clean. They speak to my brain as a group trying on different sounds and different vocal techniques to see what fits. At times it works really well.
With this impression, I took in the second night of two consecutive eves parked at The Social in Orlando. Miniature Tigers were scheduled to open, but a broken-down van forced their cancellation. This did not bode well for the evening, because I had been relying on the Tigers’ familiar sound to put me in the proper mood for a band I was taking a chance on. Lucky for me – for all in attendance, really – Brian Bonz & the Major Crimes was a crowd charmer.
Before Bonz and his band charged up the room, locals You Blew It got a last-minute break, standing in for Miniature Tigers as the third band on the bill. High-voltage emo rock is their brand, and even if you’re not buying, their exuberance is hard to turn away from. Here’s a bunch of guys who seemed genuinely stoked to be playing. The music didn’t stick with me, but they get an “A” for effort.
Where Brooklyn based Brian Bonz succeeds is not with his songs, but with his delivery during and in-between the songs. With self-deprecating humor and personal anecdotes, the cherub-faced twenty-something holds the stage like a stand-up comedian who also has a pretty powerful set of vocal cords. When he gets it fired up he hits some Anthony Green (Circa Survive) levels of power, and when he dials it down he quietly captivates like Kevin Devine. Even without their horn section (some of the guys from Miniature Tigers usually fill in as part of the band), Bonz and the Major Crimes pull in the crowd and leave ‘em yelling for more.
The room was crowded but comfy by the time the headliners finally came on, with late arriving curiousos still slipping in well into the set. Judging by the lukewarm response by much of those in attendance, I wasn’t the only one new to The Get Up Kids. Even those who sang along did so in a mild manner. Where are the hysterical fans? Or does Orlando just not heart The Get Up Kids as much as the bands that cite them as major influences (Blink 182, Fall Out Boy)?
Funnily enough, the band was pretty damned good live. Vocalist/guitarist Matt Pryor broke a sweat after the first song and never stopped trying to burst a blood vessel in his neck as he nailed each emotive scream, and bassist Rob Pope was nearly toppling over the lip of the stage in his effort to get those juicy bass riffs right up into the brains of as many fans as he could.
Since it’s the new record I had formed a courtship with, it was those new songs that jumped up my spine. The punky, synthy punch of “Pararelevant,” “Regent’s Court” and its homage to The Strokes’ guitar sounds, and the slowed-down sexiness of “Shatter Your Lungs” all won my heart many times over. Of the old songs – and you can always tell an old song by the volume of screams brought on by the opening notes – I came to discover a couple gems that will require some repeat listens, namely “I’m a Loner Dottie, a Rebel” and “Woodson,” sung by guitarist Jim Suptic.
Hours before the show, just 45 minutes east of Orlando, space shuttle Discovery launched for its final trip into the heavens. Both The Get Up Kids and Brian Bonz made comments about having watched the launch.
“Saw the space shuttle for all of seven seconds today,” Suptic said. “Bucket list: check.”
And while The Get Up Kids may not be as awe-inspiring as seeing six astronauts lit on fire and sent into space, they do put on a helluva good show – one worth making a point to see, even if it’s not on your bucket list.