To say that the Get Up Kids were an influential band is a vast understatement. With their second album Something to Write Home About, the Kansas City, MO five-piece created a bridge for pop-punk-loving teens weaned on Green Day and Blink-182 to discover everything from the Promise Ring to Coalesce, and paved the way for mainstream breakthroughs with bands like Dashboard Confessional and Fall Out Boy. And though the band went out on a bit of a whimper when they split in 2005, their legend only grew in the ensuing four years. Now reunited and touring not just to promote the ten-year anniversary and reissue of Something to Write Home About, the band are apparently working on new material as well.
On the tour's Toronto stop, the Life and Times kicked off the night with a short set of proggy rock, followed by Kevin Devine and the Goddamn Band. After a terrible vocal mix on the group's first song, Devine said something to the soundman and the quartet quickly found their groove, alternating between pop-rockers, Ted Leo-esque protest tunes and brooding-Brand New (whose Jesse Lacey is Devine's BFF) style rock. Unfortunately, Devine and co. alternated between moments of pure rock bliss and time-for-a-bathroom-break boredom.
Finally, the Get Up Kids hit the stage, launching into "Holiday" to uproarious applause, quickly followed by "I'm a Loner Dottie, A Rebel" for which the band paused briefly to let the crowd sing the intro line "Come tomorrow I'll be on my way back home." In fact, throughout the night the crowd sang along with every word out of Matt Pryor and Jim Suptic's mouths. Even deep cuts off On a Wire and Guilt Show, such as "Walking on a Wire" and "Hannah Hold On," received a warm reception.
The band seemed genuinely pleased to be playing together again, pouring themselves into every song. Keyboardist James Dewees laughed off requests for a Coalesce track (he used to play drums for them) but delivered on another for Slayer. Despite their stature amongst their fans, the band remain incredibly self-aware; at one point Pryor asked the crowd if they wanted to hear an old one, then joked that they were all old ones before playing Four Minute Mile's "No Love." In fact, the group did an admirable job of playing something from each of their releases, reaching all the way back to play the title track off of the Woodson EP.
After 16 songs, the band briefly retired to the backstage before returning for a five-song encore that started with their covers of "Close to Me" and "Beer for Breakfast" and ending with "Don't Hate Me," "I'll Catch You" and "Ten Minutes," promising that they'd be back again. Though certainly many left with a tinge of frustration that perhaps their particular favourite wasn't played (like, say, "Central Standard Time"), it was hard to argue that this was surely as good a Get Up Kids show as you could possibly hope for.