It's obvious that I enjoy The Graduate. Same with my roommate, Jacqueline. We're big fans of The Grads, and that's probably a huge understatement. I've said this before, and I'll say it again and again - Jac and I have been local promoters for almost four years now. We have burnt to our edges, exhausting our patience with booking and promoting and trying our hands at new acts and business ventures, but The Graduate? They inspire us to power through. They remind us why we got started in the local band business in the first place, and that's to help and support acts from the buttons rungs, where it all starts. So if I ever seem too persistent in nailing in this unabridged band appreciation, understand it's because I really believe in this band. The more I mention this band in my everyday life, the more likely another music kid will give them a chance. But enough mushiness.
The original plan was to head to Philly on Tuesday, which is about an hour and half away from Baltimore. But alas, no go. I had previous plans (which will be detailed at a later blog), and so, like the random adventure-goers we are, we decided to make the 3-4 hour trek to NYC on a Monday. Seeing Simple Plan wasn't necessarily atop my list of things to do in early 2008, but it couldn't be anything short of hilarious/fun, right?
Traffic heading up there wasn't horrendous, we had incredible luck with our directions. We parked in Brooklyn by a friend's apartment, made our way to subway, and hopped a couple trains to Union Square, where The Fillmore is located. The line was wrapped around the block, an awesome surprise, and we watched the crowd for a little while waiting for Miss JaimeJ. Even though we knew that most of those kid didn't know who The Graduate were, it was exciting to know that they would see soon enough.
The Fillmore remind me of 930 Club - with the balcony set up and unconstructed view - except a bit smaller and "cuter." We parked ourselves on the balcony near the bar and sound booth, which was a great view (I'm short ... the ground floor is dead to me). The room was full and buzzing with excitement; I was thrilled with the crowd energy when The Grad's hit the stage. There was a good amount of cheering, and the audience was highly receptive, especially for seeing a relatively new opening band. I was curious whether to see if the band would abandon their regular instrumentals and transitions for some of their poppier tracks, but the band stuck to their grounds. The set was smooth and flowed nicely, and with the exception of the occasionally overexerted echo on Corey's vocals, it was one of the best I've seen (and I've seen a lot, ha). You could tell the band was really into the crowd that night (and vice versa). They even played a 40 minute set, which was an ultimate treat for me.
Simple Plan. Oh, Simple Plan. At this point in the night, I was a few beers in and having fun. The last (and only) time I saw SP was with MxPx in Feb. of 2004 at 930 Club. This was in high school; Jacqueline were not afraid or wary of how SP would evolve in four years. This new album (we gave it a listen beforehand, just to be fair) is more on the side of dance-pop with techo beats. Off-kilter from the same pop-punk I remember four/five years ago, I can't say that I enjoy the new Simple Plan album. BUT, they knew their game on Monday night. They knew they were supposed to make you dance, they knew that they're weren't supposed to take themselves ultra-seriously, and they knew that when it comes to high energetic pop-punk or dance-pop, it's all about crowd participation. These Canadian heartthrobs are keen on the tricks and knowing of their limits. I give them props.
The best moment of the night - even though I missed it ... I get distracted easily - was when Pierre from SP said to the crowd "The Graduate is good, maybe TOO good." For all the ICON label folk there, for all the hardcore fans (like us three, and the handfuls of others we ran into in the bathroom), and the impressionable tweens, words like these carry more weight than you can put on a price.
After the show we hung out for a bit, caught up with some friends. I met a girl, Katie, who was hanging out with The Grads that night, that works for Atlantic. And just happened to graduate from the same high school as Jac and I did. Small, small world.
We said our goodbyes and promises for the future, made our way back to my car in Brooklyn, and stopped in to say hi/bye to Lullo, who was sicky and couldn't make it to the show. Sigh. A night well spent. NYC is remarkable place, and a part of me misses it every time I leave. It's a city of wonders, friends, adventures and 6-buck cans of Bud Light. But it's alway a good time.