The El Torreon comes of age. No matter what the crowd who likes to holler "sell out" say, The Get Up Kids do good things for the Kansas City scene. And bringing over four hundred people out to Kansas City's new all-ages club, most for the first time, is a very good thing. Although advanced tickets were only available at one local record store, the show had virtually sold out by the time the doors opened, and did sell out before the first band played a note.
Pop punkers (heavier on the pop now-a-days) Revolvers opened up the show with the assuredness of a band who had played their share of basement shows, and earned every stage performance they played. Packing nearly 2 dozen songs into their 35 minute set, the band moved quickly from one well played, well written powerful pop testament to another, always making sure they were more Queers than Cheap Trick. Everything about this band says they have found the big time and although they may not have defined the genre they operate in, they do it as well as those that did.
I opened the stage door between bands to let some air into the club (those stage lights are hot) and was immediately mobbed by young girls looking to get into the club. Even more surprising is they weren't wanting to get in to see headliners, The Get Up Kids, but Ultimate Fakebook.
A quick set change brought Ultimate Fakebook to the stage. This recently-signed local band define power pop with giant hooks, accessible songs, and sing along choruses. The band played a perfect set of imperfectly polished songs; you know, clean but not sanitized. The more I see this band, the bigger fan I become, and that puts me in good company. It seemed like everyone in the audience knew the words and was singing along. The tides turned when the band closed with their signature cover of Alex Chilton (The Replacements). The young audience hadn't seen the band perform this countless times in the bars nor were they familiar with this song recorded before they were born. Yeah for moments of old fart vindication.
The audience were forced to wait while The Get Up Kids set up their equipment and their soundman removed all the club microphones and set up new microphones from the band's private stock. For every fan of Ultimate Fakebook who may have left, an eager fan of The Get Up Kids got into the show and the club remained filled to capacity when Kansas City's prodigal sons returned.
It had been years since The Get Up Kids played an all ages show in Kansas City (probably The Fusebox in 97) and throughout the night they commented on how much they enjoyed playing the show, and enjoyed Kansas City music fans. Although they often say otherwise in interviews, the crowd took it at face value and beamed back energy to the band.
Matt Pryor began the show by playing and singing an Ultimate Fakebook song and just when you thought he was horsing waiting for the rest of the band to start the set, the rest of the band joined in. Interestingly enough it sounded wonderful and although I looked over and saw UFB's Nick Colby and Eric Melin smiling, I do wonder if they were thinking evil thoughts in the back of their heads. I know I would be, but then again I generally am.
The band played a very generous mix of songs from their latest albums as well as songs from singles both old and new. Although an audible audience member couldn't convince the band to play their Motley Crue cover, the band did play a rather disjointed version of The Cure's Close to Me. The band had moved the melody from keyboards to guitar, replaced Robert Smith's over-emotional delivery with a much dryer one, and eliminated most of the pop bounce from the song to create something that was not really The Cure and not quite The Get Up Kids either.
After the band finished their set with a big finale I expected them to set down their instruments and walk away forcing the audience to cheer for an encore. However the band opted to come clean saying "This is the part of the show where we would do an encore, but how about if we skip all that and just try to do as many songs as we can before 11:30?" The crowd appreciated it, but I'm sure I appreciated it more. For a bunch of golden boys, they weren't pulling the ego trip on stage and everyone in the band was noticeably covered in sweat they were working for their audience, and although they are now enjoying the fruits of popularity, it didn't come easy and it seems the band remembers more of that than people often give them credit for.
The band continued playing a number of old favourites including Don't Hate Me which had everyone in the room singing. Matt realized this and blurted out "Hey you guys know this one!" and let the audience contribute the vocals throughout the choruses; sometimes The Get Up Kids don't give Kansas City audiences enough credit. I think he was just one step away from holding the microphone stand out above the audience... but he didn't, thankfully.
With that, the night was over and the crowd filed out of the club with broad smiles and the only topic of their conversations was the evening's concert. That's unique in this scene. People don't leave The Bottleneck after a show talking about it, they talk about classes, after show parties, long walks home or anything else. However I do remember driving to Chicago to see Lollapalooza in 91 and talking about that concert all the way back to Indianapolis. I suppose for the under 18 indie set, this was about as close as it gets.