When I heard the Get Up Kids were doing a show at Slim’s in San Francisco, my thoughts drifted back to sophomore year of high school, riding four strong in my friend’s ’91 Taurus that had duct tape holding together the left side-view mirror, game-planning how we were going to smuggle in our house drink (read: water bottle with a mix of five kinds of booze from parents’ liquor cabinet) into the school dance.
The five-member indie-rock group from Kansas City, Mo., boasts an impressive body of work spanning a decade and a half that includes five studio albums, a live record and various EPs, influencing bands like Blink-182 and the Promise Ring that were a staple of many a high-school experience.
Indeed, the atmosphere at Slim’s on this night had the feel of a reunion. Not the “I just Botoxed half my face, cashed in a significant portion of my 401(k) to buy this Rolex and am currently on the fifth day of a wheatgrass-and-lemon-juice detox diet” feel. But the age of the audience hovered around 30, and several friends and family of the band were mingling amongst the crowd, including guitarist Jim Suptic’s art-school roommate. There was even a party in the ladies room: As we idled in wait for a stall to open up, several girls and I tossed around ideas on how to solve the female bathroom crisis experienced in concerts and entertainment venues across the nation. We concluded that female urinals were the answer.
The Get Up Kids disbanded in 2005, much to fans’ dismay, citing creative differences. They reunited two years ago to churn out a mature, beat-heavy, full-length new album, There Are Rules (Quality Hill), which came out last week. Their set featured many new numbers like “Paraelevant” with bass that rattled your rib cage, wafting into the range of psychedelic rock. This was a departure from the familiar basement emo/punk that defined Get Up Kids 1.0.
Classics such as “Beer For Breakfast” and “Overdue” provoked a lot of arm waving and finger-jabbing toward the stage and stirred a rapidly expanding mosh pit. The pack swarming the stage could have sang Matt Pryor’s lines for him. You could tell it was a homogenous audience of true fans, not just old heads looking for live music on a Saturday night or teenagers who found their older brother’s CDs last week.
So what is different this time, during their reunion tour? “When we broke up, we were in a dark place,” said Pryor after the show. “We’d been touring for 10 years straight, and we didn’t like each other anymore. Now, we make sure we take enough time off so when we come back together to play, it’s fun. Tonight was fun.”
Now that I think about it, I forgot I had holed up in my bedroom listening to “The Most Depressing Song” on repeat for a week after mom and pops took the car keys away due to my youthful indiscretion. (I guess parents notice when you water down their Sambuca.) While we can still reminisce through horn-rimmed, rose-colored glasses, it’s better that we are all adults now.