The Get Up Kids

Published on July 9th, 2019

The Midwest is to 1990’s emo bands what the East and West coasts were to 1980’s hardcore: Mecca. And by the time the hardcore bands started to charge their lyrics with actual emotions (other than anger) and play with tone and tuning, the tide was turning: The ’80s had ended, and Reagan was out of office, and what was a hardcore record back then without Ronald Reagan on it?!

The nihilism that preceded emo had sort of fizzled out and it was time to change up the tune and tenor of disenchantment. Enter The Get-Up Kids, from Kansas City, Missouri, part of a wave of midwesterners

— including The Promise Ring, Ultimate Fakebook and Bright Eyes — who grew up punk and hardcore but wanted to communicate something else entirely. Clearly, they hit a nerve with their predilections for harmonies, unrequited love and reverence for the music that came before them while eschewing its aesthetics. The emo bands embraced hyperbole and a sense of poetic license that had been mostly underrepresented in punk and hardcore.

The Get Up Kids’ success came rather quickly and soon the band was struggling to disassociate itself from the burgeoning emo scene and backlash. The urge to quantify art into dollars had bred pretenders over-emoting the already emotional. This in turn led The Get Up Kids to try to change their style in subtle ways without losing their identity. It worked for a while, but internal conflict pulled he band apart in 2005.

Never let it be said that a good break doesn’t mend wounds. The band returned three years later to mark the ten-year anniversary of their record, “Something to Write Home About.” They’ve yet to retire. Their first new album in eight years, “Problems,” arrived in May.

Despite the over-indulgence of third wave emo mall rats combining the worst parts of goth culture, emo and hardcore, The Get Up Kids represent the genre at its best, before it was a meme: Too pop to be hardcore, too hardcore for the goths and seen as too sensitive for the punks. Long live soft-hearted rockers! Just watch your girlfriend around them …

The Get Up Kids with Great Grandpa play 7pm Tuesday July 16 at The Ground in Miami. ~ Tim Moffatt

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