Anybody who might doubt whether the The Get Up Kids reunion tour has cultural relevance should have been at their concert last night. Clearly, there are still folks out there who live and die by Matt Pryors every word, and the crowd at Chicagos Lincoln Hall was full of them. The Kids brought along two quality openers and then put on a nearly two-hour set full of new material and old favorites.
First opener was songwriter Brian Bonz, who played a laid-back, radio-friendly iteration of guitar rock. He was backed by five other musicians, including a saxophonist who went sadly under utilized. Bonz vocals over his electric-acoustic guitar lent the band at times very intimate feeling. Overall, they were solidly talented, if not altogether that interesting.
Next up was Miniature Tigers, and they were the best revelation of the night. The four-piece out of Brooklyn has a delightfully summery sound that fit perfectly on a day when most Chicagoans had been drinking outdoors and pretending not to be cold. Lead singer Charlie Brand wore a huge red poncho with his hair over his eyes, and it was tempting to believe one was watching him on the stage of a street festival. The bands big, warm, fuzzy beats are cut and driven by decisive drumming, and flavored by high, simple keyboard notes that lent the sound a charmingly retro feel. Also impressive was the fact that the keyboardist and drummer often switched seats, and the keyboardist was frequently spotted playing keys with one hand and guitar with the other. Miniature Tigers is definitely worth keeping an eye on.
Photo by Michael Greiff.
Finally, the Get Up Kids took the stage around 11pm, bursting out with a high-energy version of Tithe, the opener from their recent release There Are Rules. Folks seemed to both know and enjoy the song, but the Kids made sure they scored big with fans of their old material by next burning through the classic Im A Loner Dottie, A Rebel. In an interview with CoS, Pryor said that he tries to balance playing new material with giving the fans what they want to hear: I dont think anybody ever leaves our shows disappointed, like, Oh, they didnt play this, you know? That seemed to be the programming guide for the evening, and the whole thing came together quite well.
New material included Regents Court, Pararelevant, and Shatter Your Lung. The latter in particular features a lot of synth effects that had more drama live. Older songs also benefited from the Get Up Kids newer, more mature sound; tried and true favorites like Red Letter Day and Mass Pike felt darker and fresher as Pryor played with the progressions, creating hard spots and quieter moments where none were before. Overdue in particular felt more bittersweet than the album version, the lyrics coming across as darker and less desperate. The tang of synth leaked in a bit on some older pieces as well, which helped the older material blend in with songs from the new album without much transitioning required. The setlist could have felt chaotic, but instead it was consistent: high energy and high enthusiasm, with a reverb that shook the walls.
The Kids came out for an encore of fan favorites, including a haunting rendition of Ill Catch You and a shout-along version of Holiday. The best moments of the night came on those older songs, when Pryor, still raw but more measured, would hit the expected high notehands flew into the air, fists clenched; the lights pulsed; and the band dropped hard into the chorus of Action and Action– or Mass Pike or Red Letter Day– and a sold-out crowd caught the beat like the burning, anticipated punch of a shot of whiskey. There Are Rules, indeedthe Get Up Kids wrote them.
Photography by Michael Greiff.
Get Up Kids setlist:
Im A Loner Dottie, A Rebel
Action and Action
Overdue (with Brian Bonz)
Shatter Your Lung
Red Letter Day
Close to Home
Dont Hate Me
Walking on a Wire
Beer for Breakfast (Replacements cover)
Ill Catch You