The sing-along songs will be our scriptures–The Hold Steady
The Wednesday Pop Culture Rant recently engaged in some high level negotiations and reached the following diplomatic breakthrough: if the Tween would attend the Tallest Man on Earth with us, we would attend Twenty One Pilots with the Tween and several thousand other screaming kids much younger than The Rant.
But we like to check in on the young’uns now and then to see what gives. The show took place at the Brady Theater in Tulsa, a marvelous pile of bricks on the outside, a how-do-they-not-condemn-this-place on the inside. The Brady served as quite the culture palace at one time, hosting Enrico Caruso and George M. Cohan among others. The Brady decided to save a few bucks and leave the AC off, and the poor throng crowded at the front of the stage started dropping at an alarming rate, burly security men hoisting them over their shoulders and carrying them to the first aid stand.1
We managed to miss the opening act, Finish Ticket, a group that resembles a boy band trying to make a comeback. Their videos have a sort of “we’re never going to be Death Cab for Cutie are we?” quality. Sadness in a hoodie.
Next up was Echosmith, three brothers and a sister who scored a hit called “Cool Kids,” one of those empowerment things the Millennials all go weak in the knees for these days. Sister Sydney fronts the band and her brother Jamie bears a frightening resemblance to Jesse Eisenberg. The Rant has always maintained a thin line exists between being a bad ass frontwoman and being a self-absorbed one. One is beloved because she doesn’t require your love and the other must, must be loved. St. Vincent=Bad Ass, Taylor Swift=Self-Absorbed.
At one point I thought Sydney had some bad ass potential, especially during a cover of “I Melt with You” but then she launched into some sort of Life Lesson moment, complete with three points that included the fact the crowd was loved and no one loved them more than Echosmith. After we prevented our crusty Gen X heart from exploding, we decided to put Sydney and Echosmith in our rear view mirror.
Twenty One Pilots (a reference to an Arthur Miller play, so we give them props for that) consists of lead Tyler Joseph and drummer Josh Dun. They owe a debt to 311, one of those bands whose influence far outweighs their actual popularity, as well as Bob Marley/Rasta/Green Day. The genius of Pilots consists of dense verses, often rapped, which the kids like to memorize as a badge of honor, and hooky choruses that are just fun to sing. And oh did they sing. Every last word. Tyler could have taken the night off if he wished. The Rant enjoys a sing-along crowd so we were thoroughly amused, and the Tween couldn’t get enough. Most of the kids could rap more proficiently than Tyler, although he played a killer ukulele, which America needs more of in its pop music.
The Rant contemplated a nap after every number. Tyler was everywhere, leaping on top of his upright piano and once showing up in the balcony like a magic trick. Josh would later do a back flip off the piano. The Rant envisioned hip replacements and canes in their future. Because we’re of that age.
The row in front of us contained an entire family: mom, dad, high school daughter, tween daughter, kindergarten daughter. Dad had a beard The Rant scores two Brooklyn Hipsters out of a possible five. Kindergarten daughter had a sequined vest that was 57 kinds of cute. High school daughter had fabulous anime-blue hair and a boy with her. He sported awkward-hands-in-pockets and she sported awkward-arms-crossed. Later she uncrossed one arm and tried to move in for a hand hold. He remained oblivious. Sigh. Clueless boys wear The Rant out; probably because we relate.
The family genuinely enjoyed each other. They exchanged delighted smiles and the kindergartner hugged her sister after each song and high-fived her dad until she finally crashed and burned from all the excitement, snoozing contentedly next to mom.
Statistically the girl and the boy will go their separate ways, but The Rant suspects he will someday reflect on that night and either fondly remember sharing the glow of a family that loved each other or remorsefully wonder why he didn’t reach out for that hand. The Rant fears the latter. Because we relate.