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Review: Where's the Band Tour Closes up Shop in Seattle

Matt Pryor, The Get Up Kids

Emo is a genre that has seen its reign come and go. In the late 90s through the 2000s, bands like Dashboard Confessional blew up and every boy with an acoustic guitar began to sing sad songs. Girls desiring a guy with a soft side had to look no further than their local open mic night, because there was sure to be a line up of boys with shaggy hair and wearing ratty old tee shirts strumming along, hitting high notes about their  feelings. Then, the backlash began. Emo became a joke of a genre, and carting around your guitar was less a badge of honor and more a mark of shame. The boys who sat in the corners at parties playing their instruments lost their allure.

Last night at the Tractor Tavern in Ballard, some legends of Emo graced the stage in an all-acoustic show. While some still make fun of this genre, there was nothing funny about the talent present in the line up. Matt Pryor of The Get Up Kids defined the night best. The artists playing on the Where’s the Band? Tour are from a specific branch of the genre, what he defines as Good Emo. They defined the genre, created it really. The crowd was a special one, seemingly everyone present wanted to relive a time in their personal music histories.  The guys performing gave the crowd exactly what they wanted, a flashback of Good Emo mixed, of course, with new material.

Evan Weiss of Into it. Over it., took the stage first. While he was probably the least well known of the crew playing, his set was one of the best of the night. Not only was his voice incredible and music spot on with sound, but I appreciate a musician who is dynamic with an audience.  He’ll be back on March 24th at El Corazon, buy tickets here – he’s puts on a great live show.

Next up was Ace Enders of The Early November. Imagine the dream boat quality of Jake Ryan from 16 Candles with incredible talent and a voice that will blow you out of the water. That’s Ace. The songs he sang, a blend of new songs and familiar favorites, are the kind that cut deep in the way Good Emo is meant to. The whole audience was singing along to his final song, ‘Ever So Sweet,’ and it was a great reminder of how connected a generation was (and evidently still is from how packed the venue was) with songs from this genre. Make sure to download his newest release, ‘Share With Everyone’ FOR FREE here.

Saves the Day’s video ‘At Your Funeral’ was one of the first Indie-Emo videos I remember seeing on MTV. That single and ‘Freakish’ got major radio play and when Chris Conley took the stage and delivered those among other well known Saves the Day songs, he made the audience’s night. He completely catered to the audience, taking requests throughout the entirety of his set. When he closed with ‘At Your Funeral,’ it was with the same energy (and haircut) he had 10 years ago.

The first concert I ever went to without parental supervision was The Get Up Kids in 2002 at the Showbox (back when The Market was their only location). To say that I was excited to see Matt Pryor “unplugged” and live would be a tremendous understatement. When he opened with ‘Red Letter Day,’ even after not having listened to it for at least five years, I knew every word, as did everyone else around me. His voice has changed over the years and gotten better with age, there’s something so much more there than there was before. It’s a bit more gravely and rougher, so when he sang it seemed much more invigorating. He played classic Get Up Kids songs and threw in some great stuff from his current band, The New Amsterdams. During the entirety of his performance, nostalgia resonated throughout the crowd in the best way.

Earlier in the week, Anthony Raneri had canceled performances in California due to an infection in his finger, so it wasn’t a sure thing that he would be performing at the tour’s last stop here in Seattle. Thankfully, the other guys on the bill were able to learn some of his songs and back him up on guitar while he sang. Anthony may have felt (and admittedly looked) a little awkward without his guitar, but he sounded incredible. And seeing as his musical back-up took it upon themselves to learn his music within a few short days, the set couldn’t have gone much better. As Bayside’s front man, Raneri represents the least Emo band on the bill. However, unplugged his music translates just as well if not better. He’s just released an EP, New Cathedrals, and what was surprising is how little he played from it. With Matt Pryor backing him on guitar, one of the best performances of the night was his new song ‘Sandra Partial.’ It may not be one of his better known songs, but the style is new for him and fits his voice like a glove.

The show closed with all the guys on stage, singing together, and with Chris Conley on guitar. Throughout the entire show, each performer had been raving about the people on tour. From their final performance, it was clear that this group of guys really does like one another and had a great time out on the road. The show was chock full of nostalgia, of when Emo was Good. Reliving a great moment in music, before the genre fizzled, was a fantastic way to spend a Saturday night.