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A Tribute to Drive-Thru Records and Any Band that Really, Really, REALLY Wants to Be on Their Roster

Friday, September 9th, 2005
The Early November / Houston Calls / A Day at the Fair / The Progress / The Commercials
The Championship, Lemoyne, PA

I think the best way to start this review would to be to tell you all how much I have to say, yet how very, very little at the same time.  And by that, I mean I have little to say about the musical content of the show (save for the tremendous performance put forth by the headliner, The Early November) and much to say about the behavior of the audience.

I have to admit that going into this show that I expected the opening acts to not be great, but this…this was an atrocity for the most part.  Now granted, I do enjoy four bands on Drive-Thru’s roster, those being The Early November, I Can Make a Mess Like Nobody’s Business (which is the lead singer, Ace, from The Early November’s side project), Hidden in Plain View, and Halifax.  However, for the most part, most of the bands on Drive-Thru all play the same brand of horribly generic and watered down pop-punk/rock as mainstream bands like Simple Plan.  This, my friends, is what I was subjected to for around 2 and a half hours before I could hear the band I came to see. I know; your ears are bleeding as you read this. Step one: remove scissors. Step two: continue reading.

The first to take the stage were The Commercials, who are somewhat of a staple of indie rock around these parts.  I don’t find their music terrible by any means, I just find it to be rather formulaic and over-done.  Part of this may stem from the fact that I’ve seen them play about a gazillion times in the past couple years.  However, the bassist is the owner of the venue at which the show was taking place, so he can effectively pick and choose which bands for which his band will open.  With this in mind, I found it almost inappropriate that he added his own band to the lineup of the already 4 bands playing that evening, bringing the total band count to five, which is at least one too many in my opinion.   Despite being on medication for my whole lack of attention span thing, that’s still definitely pushing it.

After them, a band from New Jersey called The Progress played.  I wish I could tell you more about their performance, but I think that I fell asleep standing up somewhere between the first and second song.  My sleep was intermittedly interrupted only by the shrieking of a middle school age girl behind me that apparently thought it was cool to scream things to the band like ‘EVAN YOU SUCK!’ then add more shrieks and some giggles.  Ok.  That’s nice and all that you’re supposedly friends with the band, but really, I could care less. And yes, you were right, random obnoxious preteen screaming at the back of my head and flailing your arms around in a futile attempt to get the lead singers attention!  The Progress DID suck.

Next in this evening’s simply stellar line-up was A Day at the Fair, who sounded almost exactly like the last band.  In fact, if I was blind, I probably would have thought that it was the same band playing and asked for my money back.  I think the only reason that I considered them marginally better than the band prior to them was that I did not have any obnoxious girls screaming in my ears during their set.  Might I also add that by this point, it was so hot in the venue that sweat was literally running down into my eyes and blurring my contacts.  As a result, half the time I had no idea what I was shooting and just had to point the camera in the general direction of the sound and moving blobs on the stage and hope for the best.

By the time Houston Calls took the stage, my thoughts were somewhere along the lines of ‘THANK GOD THIS IS THE LAST BAND BEFORE THE EARLY NOVEMBER!’   While they were not excellent by any standards (unless you were the fifteen year old standing behind me and screaming during The Progress’s set), they were the best of the opening bands for one reason: the crazy Asian guy playing keyboards.  I’m not sure if it was the constantly smiling Asian, or the addition of the keyboards, or a combination of both, but they definitely gave their sound something to make them stand out from the verse chorus verse chorus bands that played prior to them.

Finally, after what seemed like approximately one week, three days, four hours and seventeen minutes, the much anticipated Early November took the stage and I was glad that I stuck around for their performance.  The whole band’s stage presence was amazing, from their nearly uniform long sleeve dress shirts, ties, and woolen dress pants (despite the intense heat) to their almost brutal guitar swinging antics.  For those few of you who have not been blessed enough to hear this band, they sound like a cross between Death Cab for Cutie, Braid, and Elliot.  Despite the sometimes demure sound to their music, they played a majority of their more upbeat songs to which some of the kids present started moshing to, for some unknown reason.   In addition to this unorthodox behavior, several girls also decided to sit on the stage, which is unacceptable and usually results in getting knocked out with any random instrument accidentally swung in that direction.  However, the only consequence of their actions was that their lovely blonde locks of hair were in nearly all of my pictures.

Since The Early November is releasing a three disc set in March or thereabouts, they played several songs off of that, but managed to play mostly the crowd favorites off their older releases so everyone could sing along.  By the time their set was over, they were all dripping with sweat and visibly exhausted, but happy.  Even though the opening bands had something to be desired (namely talent), the evening was worth it only for the heart-wrenching performance put forth by The Early November.  However, crazy screaming girl had better watch her step.

-Allison Frank