I swear The Wall is fresh from another make-over every time I see a show there (my last visit was in May to get thrashed by Death Angel. I'd arrived without a care for interior design, you might say). I took the time to look around on this visit, and the place is definitely becoming a better and better venue for all of its renovations and tweaks. With the bar now outside in the hall area and the gradiently tiered flooring stretching all the way to the back wall, it is a much more comfortable place to enjoy a show. The clogged-up entrance/exit/bar/soundmixer logjam was always a pet peeve of mine. Now we can all find our niche and the view is gonna be sweet. I made sure to check things out from various vantage points throughout the night. Thumbs up!
Touming Magazine 透明雜誌 seem to have locked up a steady gig as support act for international bands passing through town (No Age, P.K. 14, Guitar Wolf..), as well as enjoying some nice recent promo at Tower Records in Tokyo. Why are these Taipei rockers on the up and up? Easy answer - because they're a really, really good band with an excellent CD (reviewed here). Life doesn't always operate on such an obvious reward system, but it seems to be working in their case. Thank god.
There was kind of a strange energy to their set tonight - not so frantic as past performances. And even the audience appeared subdued, which was especially odd because A.) this was a big show and B.) I saw many of the band's friends and supporters in attendance. Was it because this was a Monday? I know I had a long day at the office. Did everyone else, too?
Anyway, another signature of The Wall, the early on-time start, meant I missed about 10-15 minutes from their set . Maybe something happened in that time. Whatever it was, the music played on. 性的地獄 was presented with a slightly new, tenderized arrangement, allowing for a soft, murmuring sing-a-long, and culminating a nice crescendo from the drums.
We also got to enjoy their ostensible hit 凌晨晚餐 as well as a wonderful cover of The Promise Ring's A Picture Postcard. That's going to stick with me for a while.
They closed their performance with a new song, 透明雜誌FOREVER, a speedier number that seemed to cause 洪申豪's vocals to sort of miss the mic during the verses. No matter the accuracy nor the vibes, Touming Magazine did their job, as usual. They rocked.
Accompanied by Kraftwerk's Autobahn, the curtains opened and the band took the stage to a roar of loud love. The Get Up Kids were officially in Taipei!
And they didn't waste any time, quickly launching into the hits. Action & Action was served as their second offering and the legions of devotees devoured the moment ravenously. I'm a Loner Dottie, a Rebel added more fuel for the fire (You have to love a band that adopts song titles from the film Pee Wee's Big Adventure), and I watched jealously as friends grabbed friends, screaming the lyrics into each other's faces. Well, honestly, I was more touched than jealous. These were raw acts of passion and joy. I simply found myself wanting to hold someone too, wanting something warmer than my sweaty pen, something that could jump and laugh and sing and look me in the eyes and understand me, the real me. And with that, I had fully arrived at The Get Up Kids' aesthetic: yearning for a love impossible, absent, distant, broken, gone. But dreams do come true in their own weird way, and now I was no longer alone, but one with the crowd, all of my desires, memories, and heartaches rendered in sound.
Automatic, Close to Home... the band blasted along. A pronounced, steady drum beat set the pace for a reworked version of Overdue, perfect for both some quiet reflection and another sing-a-long. And then back to the rock with oldie but goodie Woodson, introduced as the first song they ever wrote, and played in honor of their first, and it's probably safe to assume not last, trip to Taiwan.
Music from all stages of their career were well-represented, especially from their classic Something To Write Home About. Shorty, from their 1997 album Four Minute Mile gave diehards a happy blast from the past. And was that spooky moment the intro to Rally 'Round the Fool? Must have been. I'm embarrassed to admit I couldn't always distinguish the new songs too easily, and it seemed others in the audience weren't sure about them yet. I've heard mixed reviews of the most recent release There Are Rules. Upon several listens, I can see how longtime listeners may be turned off, but I'm decidedly with those who think it's pretty good. It is a bit of a different sound for them, true, but that doesn't mean it's bad. Anyway, I just needed more time for the new songs to sink in so I could gain some ownership and recognition.
We jumped back a few more years for the stompy Holy Roman, and then guitarist/co-vocalist Jim Suptic gave the band a breather with a heartfelt solo performance of Campfire Kansas. Rememorable reintroduced the group to the stage. It's a song with a bit of everything: some nice keyboards, sharp guitars, and a driving beat. The keyboards were employed intermittently throughout the evening, but when did they appear, they were always tasteful and interesting, never cheesy (I always feel anxious about keyboards in rock bands. Phew!).
I have a friend who jokes about bands with names that don't age well with their bodies. She thinks it is a little silly that the now middle-aged Sonic Youth still use "youth" in their name, for example. I recalled her humor and considered her point as The Get Up Kids dinked around with some blues bullshit between songs, laughing and kidding among themselves. They were clearly relaxed and having a fun time. And they were definitely kicking out a high energy set - it compared well to the old clips on Youtube, confirming the only real difference was a lack of nerdy glasses. Kids or no Kids? It seemed like a non-issue to me. And be they emo, indie, or punk... whatever, it's all rock 'n roll, where age - where everything - is attitude. The name's a keeper.
Another older song, Off The Wagon, hammered it's way into a rollicking Don't Hate Me. Walking On a Wire brought it down a notch before they said goodnight.
Of course, it wasn't really goodnight. Matt Pryor, their main voice/songwriter/second guitarist, quickly killed the will-they-or-won't-they-come-back-out "suspense" by remerging to sing a request from Earwax promoter Sky for Out of Reach. Sky also brought No Age and Deerhunter to Taipei, so she's definitely earned it.
And apparently we in the audience earned some parting gifts, too. This was to be a five (!) song encore, not some token gesture. A cover of The Replacements' Beer For Breakfast (thanks for info, Robyn!) served as a prelude to utter pandemonium. Holiday sent folks literally head over heels - crowdsurfers competed for airspace with leaping limbs and hoarse voices. I even saw a couple kissing in the middle of the fray. My god, exactly what breed of romantics are The Get Up Kids and their fans? I'll Catch You and Ten Minutes wrapped up an impassioned, sweat-stained night.
Or did it? Nobody wanted to move. Nobody wanted to leave. This trick never works, though, the stubborn approach. Or does it?
"This may be the best worst idea ever," commented Jim, and our obstinancy was thus rewarded. Uncertain yet daring, The Get Up Kids took a stab at Boys and Girls by Blur, Jim doing his best frontman poses, ultimately stagediving, ultimately losing control of the moment, and ultimately winning a place in the hearts of many in Taipei.