Ah, experiencing my youth as a grown adult is an alarming thing. My half-remembered adolescence that was spent patiently downloading all the emo music I could find, song by song on Napster in my bedroom. Back then, of course, emo meant the kind of whimsical, socially awkward, college boy rock that could transport me to the set of Dawson’s Creek by the end of the second verse. Among the Braids, Moss Icons and Penfolds of the scene, The Get Up Kids generated possibly the most cherished devotion, such was their knack for perfectly polished melodies and sing along lyrics that always brought a smile.
Fast forward over a decade, and emo has long since mutated and I’ve gotten older – but the band have returned to London’s Underworld on Wednesday, October 5th to promote There Are Rules (QRO review), their first full length album since their 2005 hiatus and reunion. Although downsized from the flashy, personality-free Koko to the Underworld, the latter’s history and aesthetic are far more closely matched to Get Up Kids’ brand of punk, and this showed in the friendliness and intimacy of the entire show.
Opening and punctuating the set with their new material, you could tell the ease and happiness with which the band entered recording: their classic themes of punchy, feel good pop rock always present but with a more adult and accomplished air. Their various tenures in other bands and solo projects such as Reggie & The Full Effect and The New Amsterdams enabled the guys to explore a more eclectic and sophisticated sound this time around – even sounding strangely in tune with the mid-noughties U.K. indie scene.
All the material from There Are Rules and their 2009 EP Simple Science were accepted by a receptive and warm, if slightly still, crowd. But it was the return of those classics from Something To Write Home About: “10 Minutes”, “Red Letter Day” and “Out of Reach” were greeted with the utmost affection, the whole venue seemingly unified in roaring along with Matt Pryor and Jim Suptic, huge smiles on their faces. And suddenly even I was 16 again, my heart racing along to those euphoric choruses as though I’d never grown any older. By the time the band finished their encore with “Holiday”, my own personal favourite, the euphoria was palpable. It was then that proceedings took a surreal turn: decked in an England #7 shirt, Suptic put on his best cockney accent in what was one of the best renditions of Blur’s “Girls and Boys” I’ve ever seen.
Over the years, The Get Up Kids have renounced their place in the punk canon, embarrassed and apologetic for the bands they helped influence, such as Fall Out Boy and Blink-182 (QRO album review). They shouldn’t be sorry. Perhaps younger bands took the most inane aspects of their sound, but this show proved that there is far more heart, soul and joy to The Get Up Kids than they could ever comprehend. They should be proud.