Monday, March 7, 2011

The Get Up Kids at the TLA

Armed with an exciting new album, The Get Up Kids triumphantly returned to Philadelphia’s Theatre of Living Arts for a two-night stint Fri.-Sat., March 4-5 with Brian Bonz and Miniature Tigers. After the openers got out of the way, TGUK thoroughly rocked the crowd Saturday night with a set that spanned Woodson through There Are Rules.

As much as I enjoy the new record, I had concerns about how it would fit in TGUK’s live show. The band always had an indie-rock-by-way-of-Superchunk sound, but the fuzzy low end presented on Rules is decidedly not emo. My fears were quickly allayed; the Kids played enough of the new album to justify their reunion while delivering plenty of hits.

A scruffy, James Dewees-less Kids greeted the crowd by playing “Holiday” into “Coming Clean,” and rarely let the energy levels drop from there. When they did, it was because the band busted out highlights from the underappreciated On a Wire. Otherwise, the 75-minute set (plus an encore) was all rock non-stop.

Aside from “Better Half,” the Kids played every song I wanted to hear – “Mass Pike,” “Red Letter Day,” “Don’t Hate Me,” “Off the Wagon,” and “Action & Action” ripped through the crowd. Yet they still found time to bust out selections from their latest effort. Granted, these songs got the slightest reaction from the crowd – blame it on ignorance, the group’s shift away from emo, or both – but I was surprised by how well tunes like “Tithe” and “Regent’s Court” blended in with the older material. Philly also scored the first ever live performance of “Rememorable.” So, what up.

The band was tight throughout. While a little loose during the new songs, Ryan Pope acquitted himself nicely during the post-punk-leaning Rules songs. I could’ve sworn some of the beats on that record were sampled; Pope played almost everything live himself on a real kit. His brother Rob is arguably the star of the new record with his heavy bass, and he brought just as much low end in concert. Matt Pryor is the de facto frontman for the group, but even he had to bow to co-vocalist/guitarist Jim Suptic. Suptic doesn’t pen nearly as many songs as Pryor, but his contributions (Tonight included “Campfire Kansas” and “Ten Minutes”) are always winners. The guy next to me at the show actually proposed to his lady friend during “Ten Minutes.” He wins so hard.

Circa 2002, The Get Up Kids struggled to integrate emo and ambience to their music, but 2011 finds the group fully in control of their sound, with their fans’ support. The group’s reunion so soon after their 2005 farewell tour seemed like an ill-advised cash grab, but as There Are Rules and this tour evidenced, TGUK has really just grown up.

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