Gush: ‘Something to Write Home About’ by The Get Up Kids

Perhaps I’m just reminiscing on the easier times, but the inspiration of today’s music selections has been the nineties and the early oughts. I can’t help but do the simple math to think about how long ago 1997, 1999 and 2002 were. In 1999, I was just eleven and learning about fractions and integers while Matt Pryor of the Get Up Kids were twenty-one and drinking legally for the first time. In 1999 they made one of my favourite albums ever created, Something to Write Home About.

I think the most formative years for my music taste were between 2002-2004. I listened to a whole lot of crap music, but some have stuck with me. Something to Write Home About is still incredible seventeen years later:

Car Seat Headrest with Lucy Dacus at the Mod Club; Monday September 19, 2016

If you know me or my blog at all, you know that I love Lucy Dacus. Seeing Lucy Dacus was something I had been pining for since missing her premier appearance in Toronto earlier this year in March at Burdock. I got into her a day later thanks to this wonderful man.

Dacus went on earlier with a completely new outfit from what I was expecting based on a session she recorded with Audio Tree earlier this year. She entered the stage with a plaid shirt tied around her waist – grunge revival at its best. Her performance was perfect, drawing mostly from her first full-length No Burden, which was just released on Matador one week prior to the gig and on CD for the very first time.

Dacus took the stage at 8:30pm, which was sweetly posted to Collective Concert’s Facebook event page. The lucky ones who made the time to arrive for Dacus’ set for the most part didn’t really know her music. In my survey of my radius, the people around me seemed engaged, but not too familiar. This show certainly served as an introduction to Dacus’ music.

Dacus sweetly confessed to the crowd that she has always felt like she could see herself living in Toronto, along with Philadelphia. I approached her after to show my appreciation and high praise for her playing Toronto, she repeated the same sentiments again.

The only regret I had was that she did not play my favourite tune, “Direct Address,” but strangely played slower tune “Green Eyes, Red Face” and the 9-minute, build-up tune, “Map on a Wall.”

If you haven’t got into Dacus yet, this brainy review of No Burden may be your gateway. Here’s a sweet excerpt from it:

“And like so many pop-music artists we can admire, she has an advantage we don’t. She’s able to make strong music about her weakest moments. She may say in one song here, I’ll play the fool, but more often than not she’s the stubborn master of the bleak scenarios she describes. Dacus is a master of her own destiny who likes to make you think she’s as surprised as anyone else that she could possess such power.”

Prior to Car Seat Headrest’s set, an acquaintance suggested that the male-heavy crowd was comprised of NPR fans that found out about Car Seat Headrest through Bob Boilen or other channels via NPR. With great happiness, I exclaimed that’s exactly how I found out about Lucy Dacus.

Will Toledo, the heart of Car Seat Headrest, took the stage alone to play the tune “Way Down.” He stopped it part-way through after a mistake and called out his band and launched into “Cosmic Hero” – which they tagged on the Velvet Underground tune “Sweet Jane.” Toldeo has some what received a bit of fame from his appreciation of old rock. He famously had to destroy the first pressing of his album released by Matador because of a copyright infringement for the song “Just What I Needed/Not Just What I Needed” – a version of the album I haven’t actually heard, but apparently lifts a guitar line and verse from the original tune.

Toldeo is twenty four, Dacus is twenty one and the show was open to everyone of any age. Rather than shoo old men for liking young people like my acquaintance did, I spent the night in awe of talent, ability and success. Toledo’s demeanour is stiff and rigid. Performing seems to come off easy for him, but socializing with the audience didn’t. His drummer even interjected mid-way through the set to present answers to questions that Toronto fans submitted via social media. Silly questions like how to meet band members to start a band came up or what Will’s real name is were answered by the drummer to varying degrees of seriousness. If you check out Car Seat Headrest’s Tiny Desk session he introduces the pile of pals he brought with him to the session, even though he’s playing alone.

The acquaintance ended up leaving part way to the gig. She apparently wasn’t too into the gig, which was the complete opposite to how I felt the moment she walked out of the gig. Car Seat Headrest make catchy rock tunes that aren’t pretty, but are sophisticated and energetic, disguising Toldeo’s awkward demeanour. The show was tight, nearing perfection.

Whatta blast.