Thursday, March 02, 2006

Four Years in One Gulp

In addition to watching episodes of the Beavis and Butt-head - The Mike Judge Collection Vol. 1 DVD, I've recently watched three band-related DVDs: a 90-minute documentary on Kid Dynamite called Four Years in One Gulp, The Hives' Tussles in Brussels concert and blink-182's The Urethra Chronicles. While I enjoyed seeing The Hives rip it up in concert and some older blink-182 videos, seeing Kid Dynamite again was a nice reminder of things.

In the fall of '98, Jade Tree had three highly-anticipated records coming out. A new EP by The Promise Ring (Boys + Girls), Jets to Brazil's debut album (Orange Rhyming Dictionary), Kid Dynamite's self-titled debut album. These three records sounded nothing alike, but I wanted all of them. Already a Promise Ring fan and convinced that bands featuring ex-members of Jawbreaker, Handsome, Texas is the Reason and Lifetime were guaranteed to be great.

In an age when MP3s were few and far between and before peer-to-peer networks were everywhere on the Internet, short clips in the Real Audio format were the standard. No audio was available at the time when I sent my money in, but I couldn't help it because Jade Tree had a sweet deal. They offered a pre-order where you could get the record a few weeks before it came out in stores. So I just went for it and sent my money in.

While awaiting for my records to arrive, sound clips from each album appeared online. Hearing "Bookworm" by Kid Dynamite and "Resistance is Futile" by Jets to Brazil, I wasn't too hot with what I heard. I couldn't wrap my head around KD's Jason Shevchuk's voice and I didn't really enjoy Jets' Devo-like new wave. I'm glad I got the albums though; it's amazing when you hear more than one song. That's the beauty of a record!

Kid Dynamite sounded like a much harder version of Lifetime, but they were not a weak, retooled version of it. They played fast and their songs were very short, but they were all worth the while. Orange Rhyming Dictionary turned out to be a really great album filled with mostly mellowed-out rock songs. I would continue to follow Jets to Brazil closely for years to come, but I wouldn't be as close a follower of KD.

As a full-time band, Kid Dynamite went full-steam ahead with releasing a number of compilation tracks, split-EP with 88 Fingers Louie, and a second album, Shorter, Faster, Louder. Despite their material being really strong, their flavor was going out on me. As much as I love fast punk rock, I can't listen to it all the time. Kid Dynamite was a casualty in my changing of taste after a couple of years of listening to a lot of pop-punk and hardcore.

When Kid Dynamite called it quits in 2000, people were incredibly bummed. I was sad to see them go, but I was surprised to see how revered they had become in such a short amount of time. They were thought of as highly as Lifetime, but as its own band. The band has since reunited for a few one-off charity shows in the last few years and every show has been packed to the gills.

All of the band's story so far is placed together nicely in the Four Years in One Gulp documentary. While there is a great balance of fun and seriousness in the interviews with those involved, the true pearl is seeing amateur video of the band playing live. Though the video quality varies, the band's performances are always top-notch. Seeing the band attack the songs with so much intensity, I really miss this kind of approach with bands now. Shevchuk goes to town as an engaging frontman with a fireball of energy while his bandmates do the same, but in their own ways.

I could get all nostalgic and think that they don't make bands like Kid Dynamite anymore. Well, I'm not sure a band just like Kid Dynamite will come out, but I'm not worried. KD was a special band that has remained special in the years to come. I'm glad I did give this band another chance even after being not too impressed with the 30-second Real Audio clip that I heard. I think I should apply this a little more than what I normally do. I don't want to get ripped off with a lame record, but I shouldn't be so quick to judge bands (especially with just 30 seconds of an album).

1 comment:

Eric said...

The first time I heard "Orange Rhyming Dictionary" I thought it was crap. Perhaps because it wasn't Jawbreaker. Tt is a great record though. Ditto for KD. They weren't Lifetime. They were awesome though. Amy and I had the pleasure of seeing them on their last show that wasn't a "final" or "reunion" show. that was the last time I was in a pit with other kids singing along to every word. Damn I'm old now...