Youth of Today
June 6, 2011
The Glass House
There have been a few thousand beers between the time when I was a straight edge punk and now, but that didn't stop me from having a good time at last night's Youth of Today reunion show at the Glass House. Although, in all honesty, a few beers pre-show would have been nice, too.
The seminal New York straight edge icons played for about an hour and ran through the hits in a very tight, cohesive manner. Because I'm 31 and Youth of Today hadn't played Southern California since 1989, I never saw the band before, but I did have some live bootlegs as a teenager and last night the band sounded much tighter than I'd ever heard.
My friend Aaron--my best friend in high school and fellow (former) straight edge compadre--leaned over and said something about how good they sounded, which he attributed to the fact that Youth of Today is really just singer Ray Cappo, guitarist Porcell and whomever else they decide to round up.
This theory, he suggested, meant the twosome were allowed to get the best rhythm section they could find. I think he might have been correct because bassist Ken Olden and drummer Vinny Panza played the shit out of those songs in a way that a lot of other musicians wouldn't have.
Cappo started the evening by announcing, "We're back," before launching into a tune of the same name. Throughout the set, the vocalist climbed atop the barrier and stuck the microphone into the crowd for sing-alongs, breakdowns and mosh parts.
Cappo is known for his stage banter, but last night the singer toned it down. Yeah, he talked, but there were no long rants or anything. Instead, the audience was treated to a few self-deprecating jokes about how he's not a good singer and how they were going to play requests based on whomever traveled the farthest to get to the show.
It sounded like someone from either Louisiana or Indiana would win that contest, but then Cappo found a fan from Korea, whose hopes and dreams were crushed when a kid said he flew 25 hours from Singapore.
A snafu occurred during "Youth Crew" that nearly derailed the entire show. Cappo was standing on the barricade and wanted to get closer to fans, but as he positioned himself closer to the crowd, he slipped and fell between the stage and the barrier. After a few seconds and no sight of the vocalist, the band and the crowd knew something was up. The three musicians looked at each other as they played and a friend ran to the microphone to sing the words. Cappo was helped to his feet and taken backstage while Tim from Mouthpiece sang Minor Threat's "Out of Step." Cappo reappeared, visibly shaken and hunched over as he told the fans that he hurt his knee. The audience applauded loudly for his effort, but from this point forward, Cappo moved much less swiftly as he did before the fall.
I guess I'm not in the minority when I say that seeing Youth of Today created a heavy dose of nostalgia last night. For me, it was deeper than just the band because I attended the show with my aforementioned friend Aaron and it was just like how we used to see bands in high school. We walked in, but then decided to get some food instead of being social creatures (of which we are not). Then we re-entered the venue and talked about how distant we felt from the straight edge scene, even though we were somewhat a part of it.
Neither of us ever dressed in basketball hoodies or put Xs on our hands, which seemed to be the modus operandi for many straight edge kids then and now. By the end of the night, we talked not about music but of writing (Aaron's always been a solid writer, but his damned music career always gets in the way) and I made the long drive home feeling kind of sad for a few reasons.
First, Aaron's been around the world doing his music thing since we were teenagers and I'm still a totally unrecognized, unknown, unfamous, un-everything writer; second, the show reminded me of how much happier I was as a simple kid who went to high school five days a week and shows six nights a week; finally, we live very different lives these days and we don't speak as often as we used to, but I really should make more of an effort to hang out with Aaron because, even after all these years, I connect with him in a way I don't with the rest of the world.
I missed the opening bands because I'm 31 years old and 31-year-olds who prefer Jay-Z and Miles Davis to youth crew breakdowns don't show up for opening acts. Sorry fellas. Next time. I promise. (Ok, that's a lie. I don't promise.)
The audience: Dudes in their late 30s who waited too long to get ticket's to Sunday's sold-out show, a handful of 20-somethings who dressed like it was New York circa 1987, eight really cute girls (and by that I mean, there were only eight girls in attendance and all eight were very attractive) , a guy in a Mohawk, a guy in a wheelchair and two members from seminal gay edge band Gayrilla Biscuits.
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Overheard: "Break down the barricade!"
Personal bias: I still think they should have called themselves Youth of Yesterday.
Random notebook dump: The guy in the wheelchair who didn't let something like his wheelchair stop him from moshing in circles absolutely stole the show.
"Thinking Straight" "Make a Change" "Positive Outlook"
"Can't Close My Eyes"
"No More" "Together" "I Have Faith"
"A Time We'll Remember"
"Break Down the Walls"
"New York Crew" (with Porcell on vocals)
"Out of Step" (with Tim from Mouthpiece on vocals)
"Young 'Til I Die"
"Minor Threat" (with Cappo and Tim from Mouthpiece on vocals)