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The Get Up Kids
with Youth Group and Pretty and Nice
The Glasshouse, Pomona, CA

Free parking, ins and outs and a stern, yet fair security force have always kept the Glasshouse as one of my favorite places to see a show. Seeing The Get Up Kids there was all too enticing, especially seeing as how they are rolling out to promote the 10-year anniversary release of Something To Write Home About.

Strolling in to find Boston’s Pretty & Nice on stage, I found myself debating whether to start a brand new West Coast v. East Coast feud. They sucked. Bad. The drummer played beats I learned in my first semester drum class and the bassist was as adept at being ignored as Buster Bluth. That leaves us with two guitarists/singers. We’ll call them The Acceptable One and…Asstard the Rooster.

Now Asstard the Rooster, whose faux-faux-hawk gave him his name, would do these weird things with his eyes which made me worry I was watching someone in full blown tweak-mode on stage. In combination with thrashing at a beat in direct opposition to the song’s tempo and rhythm, I was honestly worried for my safety and that of my wallet. The Acceptable One was a far better front man, though he had fewer vocal responsibilities, his guitar was turned up a tad bit louder, which helped. Only during the song “Pony Boy” did anyone give a rat’s ass.

Upon seeing Youth Group on stage, I was concerned, as they consist of a group of decidedly older gentlemen. My concern of an ironic band name covering up substandard musicianship was quickly dissipated by the perfect balance that the band presented. In addition to layered melodies, it appears that the band has instituted a rule that if you’re not singing at any given time, you are to be banging on an additional snare. Sounds good to me.

Engaging the audience and commanding your attention, vocalist Toby Martin was everything you could want in a frontman. That’s not to say that the other members didn’t pull their own weight, but with his thin white boy fro and epic mustache and beard, Martin was definitely the one to catch your eye. Solid songwriting and playing was carried through in what would prove to be the best sound of the night. Finishing off with their popular cover of “Forever Young,” Youth Group exits the stage as the masses start filing in for “emo” legends The Get Up Kids.

What would follow is one of the biggest disappointments of my concert going career.

I should have known something was wrong when the sound guy was ignoring the band’s gestures to adjust their monitors because he was busy texting. Now, not only are The Get Up Kids an amazing band unto themselves, their members have gone on to constitute a great deal of bands who have done well in their own right: The New Amsterdams, Reggie and the Full Effect, Blackpool Lights, The Terrible Twos and more. For at least the first half of the show, the band was just not synching up. Between guitarist Jim Suptic dicking off with his phaser pedal and keyboardist James DeWees’ switching from barely audible to screeching, it was heartbreaking.

A few band jokes later (How do you get a drummer off your porch? Pay for the pizza.) and it seems that they were starting to feel each other a bit more. But even finding the right rhythm was no match for the sound being terrible. Fuzzed out treble from Suptic and main vocalist Matt Pryor’s guitars pierced through the crowd and assaulted my eardrums while the same happened during Pryor’s high notes.

The set list was a solid mix up of tunes. Their songs off of their decade-old Something to Write Home About were the most well received, with damn near everyone, myself included, screaming along to the likes of “Ten Minutes” and “Red Letter Day.” I debated heading to another one of their dates, but I figured the sadness I felt from seeing a great set poorly done was what I get for listening to a group that has openly apologized for helping to create what “emo” would turn into.

–Jonathan Yost