If you grew up in the 90s or earlier this century and had a sensitive streak, chances are you probably listened to The Get Up Kids. It also means you have something in common with Say Anything frontman Max Bemis, who grew up loving The Get Up Kids and eventually ended up signing frontman Matt Pryor to his label, Equal Vision Records.
The pair headlined a show at Neumos Saturday that would have been a teenage confessional a decade ago but was more a celebration of past memories with most of the crowd in their 20s or older.
Seeing older fans was a strange visual for what was essentially an emo show. Emo, for better or worse, has long been associated with young people. It makes sense, since the majority of songs in the genre ruminate so plaintively about failed first loves and being generally misunderstood and frustrated.
For many fans, the genre has a cherished place in their musical history, even after they’ve long since moved on to other bands and other styles. That reverence was on display in full force Saturday.
First up was Pryor, who kicked off his set with a New Amsterdams’ song, “Dear Lover,” and soon followed with the winding bass and anthemic heart of another New Amsterdam’s track, “Without A Sound (Eleanor).” Pryor made sure to play some new tunes from 2013′s “Wrist Slitter,” including “If I Wear A Disguise,” and “Kinda Go To Pieces.”
But in the spirit of the evening, Pryor finished not with a new song but an old Get Up Kids favorite, “I’ll Catch You,” from the 1999 album “Something To Write Home About,” which he played in honor of his wife’s birthday.
Bemis doesn’t have a new album out and populated his set with what felt like a “greatest hits” collection of some of Say Anything’s most popular tunes. Whether it was “Shiksa” or “Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too,” Bemis — holding court alone on stage — had the crowd expertly singing every word along with him.
While the singalong aspect diminished when Bemis was joined by his wife, Sherri DuPree, her presence gave the show a jolt of energy that made the proceedings a little less “Dashboard Confessional” and a little more “Mates of State.” DuPree sings with a pleasing clarity that is the exact opposite of Bemis’ throaty growls, and the duo (who play together as Perma) worked effectively on songs like “Two of a Crime” and “Little Light,” off Perma’s debut “Two of a Crime.”
In the end, though, it was a show as much about celebrating old memories as it was about making new ones. Pryor came back on stage to help Bemis through The Get Up Kids’ “Holiday,” and Bemis finished with “Walk Through Hell,” an obscure track from Say Anything’s breakout 2004 record “…Is A Real Boy.”
Obscure, that is, to anyone but the numerous diehards that populated Neumos Saturday evening. They knew every word, relished in every chord and delighted when Bemis knelt at the edge of the stage to dole out hugs and handshakes afterward. New memories, it turned out, aren’t such a bad thing after all.
-Owen R. Smith, on Twitter @inanedetails