Wednesday, May 25, 2005

This Station is Non-Operational

Yesterday, the Get Up Kids and At the Drive-In released posthumous collections. While the Get Up Kids are in the midst of their farewell tour, I think it's safe to call Live at the Granada Theater a posthumous collection. On the other hand, At the Drive-In suspended all activity in March 2001.

Hearing these releases bring back memories, but they also serve as nice reminders as to how excitement is perceived. As a point of reference, the way that people talk about bands like Fall Out Boy, Hawthorne Heights and Taking Back Sunday these days is not too far off from how people talked about the Get Up Kids and At the Drive-In back in the day. The line of "This is what the kids are into" comes up. The deal is, we're talking about fleeting thoughts.

When you read about bands in magazines and websites and see shows that are packed to the gills, you would be lead to believe that these bands are huge. Sure, they're big now, but most won't always be a big draw. The drying out of interest in bands that were once considered "huge" is interesting.

People still talk about the Get Up Kids, At the Drive-In, Jawbreaker, the Promise Ring, Braid and others these days, but the talk sounds like ancient history. The deal is, these bands' time in the hot spotlight was not that long ago. Maybe I'm trapped in a time warp, but 1999 is still fresh in my mind compared to say, 1985.

I remember the building excitement around the Get Up Kids in 1999, especially with hearing the Red Letter Day EP and the Vagrant sampler that contained the 7" version of "Ten Minutes." I often checked online in hopes of hearing about a release date for the band's next album. When Something to Write Home About finally came out in September 1999, things seemed to keep growing from there. The band toured on a tour bus, a lot of shows were sold out and you thought the band was unstoppable.

I still remember sitting in my car hearing At the Drive-In's "One Armed Scissor" and "Pattern Against User" for the first time. I was blown away by what I heard and I was incredibly excited about the forthcoming Relationship of Command album. The album came out to much fanfare and hype that At the Drive-In was the next Nirvana. Sounds very simple and plain now, but at the time, At the Drive-In was presented as the heir to the throne of rock royalty.

Eventually, the momentum just stopped to very little fanfare.

The Get Up Kids released On a Wire in May of 2002. People were baffled and a lot of people hated that record (and probaly still hate that record). In my case, I didn't like the lack of "oomph" in the material. I felt it sounded more like the band focused on the sound of the record rather than writing hooky material. I set the record aside but I picked it up again last year. I have really taken to it and surprisingly, I think it's some of their "hookiest" material. Definitely a record that grows on you in a good way, but people didn't think that way when it first came out.

At the Drive-In went on an "indefinite hiatus" in March 2001. When word got out that there were two new bands formed out the band's five members, everyone eventually realized that At the Drive-In was kaput. Here was a band that was perceived as the Great White Hope but was now just a blip on hipster's radars.

Thankfully, with all the younger music fans (please don't call them "kids") that are into modern day post-hardcore/whatever-you-call-it-core, there is still some genuine interest in bands like At the Drive-In and the Get Up Kids. Younger fans know some things about these bands and they judge these bands' off the music more than anything else. In the words of Ian MacKaye, "That's cool" because "music survives."

For us old fogies in our mid-to-late twenties, we've seen elements of these bands become kind of like a cartoon with younger bands. However, that stuff is out of our hands and not all young bands are cartoons. We don't forget the stuff that meant a lot to us, so maybe that's why it's hard to move on.

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