The Get Up Kids Teach a Lesson in Emo at the Observatory

The Get Up Kids

Matt Pryor can add “beer-dodger” to his resume alongside being the singer and guitarist for the Get Up Kids, as the Kansas City emo band's 20th anniversary show at the Observatory on Wednesday night was interrupted twice by rowdy fans deciding to celebratorily chuck their brews on stage rather than drink them.


Outside of that, the set went off without a hitch and the Get Up Kids proved they could rock, croon, and wisecrack just as well in their late 30s as they did in their late teens.

Much to the delight of the crowd, most of the sporadically touring band's set came from their first two albums, 1997's Four Minute Mile and 1999's Something to Write Home About. That was apparent as soon as the band started the set with their second album's opener, “Holiday,” and followed it up with “I'm a Loner Dottie, a Rebel” off the same record.

Pryor, guitarist/singer Jim Suptic, brothers Rob and Ryan Pope (bass and drums, respectively), and James Dewees (arguably the most noteworthy keyboardist in recent alternative music) looked like they hadn't missed a beat, despite only touring once every few years since the band's initial breakup in 2005 (or 2004, but that's a story for another time). The second wave emo group kept churning out the fan favorites as singalong tracks like “Stay Gold, Ponyboy” and “Mass Pike” littered the first half of the set.

Overall, the group did a great job of mixing their sad/romantic ballads (like “Overdue” and “Valentine”) into their more traditional rock songs to change up the pacing and give the moshers (there was a circle pit for the Get Up Kids, because bros) some time to recharge.

As the slightly-over-half-full crowd reminisced about their high school days with tunes like “Action N Action,” “No Love,” and “Forgive and Forget,” it was impossible to miss just how many fans knew the words to nearly every song. Sure, it helps when the music came out over a decade ago, but it was still obvious that most people there knew nearly every word to the first two albums, and they would proudly display that to anyone who would listen.

The trip down memory lane continued through “Coming Clean” and “Shorty” with the band flowing as one cohesive unit from one song to the next for most of the set, but as the evening started to wind down (“Campfire Kansas,” “Red Letter Day,” “Walking on a Wire,” etc.), you could sense some of the crowd getting antsy about whether or not they would hear their favorite songs on that night.

Part of the problem with having two (or more) hit albums instead of just a few big songs is that some of the crowd won't get to hear what they came to see, and when the band took a break before the encore, discussions over what would and wouldn't be played grew abundant among the primarily thirtysomething crowd.

Thankfully, the Get Up Kids did a handful of songs as an encore rather than just one or two, so fans got to hear tracks like “Close to Me,” “Beer for Breakfast,” “I'll Catch You,” and (obviously) “Ten Minutes” one last time before the band left the stage. Hell, if you didn't get to hear your favorite song (or you missed the show entirely), you may want to catch them another time on this tour because who knows when the next time they'll come around will be.

Nightly Observation:
I totally forgot how much I wanted a Get Up Kids t-shirt back in high school, but it was the first time I thought about buying a concert tee in who knows how long.

Also, considering how full the Observatory gets for one-hit-wonders, anyone who considers themselves an “emo” (or even '90s alternative) fan should be embarrassed by the smaller crowd for the Get Up Kids. I don't care that it was a Wednesday.

See also:
The 50 Best Things About the OC Music Scene
The 50 Worst Things About the OC Music Scene
The 25 Greatest OC Bands of All Time: The Complete List

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