Bad Scene, Everyone’s Fault

This is less a review of The Getaway Plan live than it is a skewed, opinionated critique of the scene in which they inhabit. One for this purpose, I shall call the “New Youth Music Movement” which blankets the subgenres of punk, hardcore (including post), screamo, emo, and pop-punk covered and done by those just past their teens and just before. It is essentially rock music coated and covered with the anti-flags of generation now- the clothing, the hair, the tattoos, the styles, and the attitudes for which, I do not essentially have a problem with. So while this could quickly degenerate into an “old guy waxing nostalgic” piece peppered with current cultural relevance, I do feel as if some of it has to be said. Especially after I did go see current Melbourne darlings The Getaway Plan triumphantly storm the stage for a sold out show at local city institution The Hi Fi Bar.

As it was, we plodded into the venue rather sluggishly, leaving us without the opportunity to see another local act about to make waves; Closure In Moscow (who recently inked a deal with US-based Warner subsidiary Science Records). The warm-up act we did see (who we hoped were just a really late Closure In Moscow) turned out to be from across-the-pond, New Zealand’s Goodnight Nurse (already on Warner) who were a more technically sound (but far less urgent) rendition of Blink-182’s more naïve days. Their sound was in every sense, by the numbers, but their drive and youthful veneer meant the crowd remained interested, and with some likable chops to boot, were more than capable of holding their own. With a new album fresh, they closed their set with their lead single, “This Night,” a thoroughly catchy tune built for the airwaves. The only serious flaw of their outing was a truly horrendous cover of Kelis’ “Milkshake,” which, like most hip-hop/R N’B covers by bands of this genre, are terrible by default. Nonetheless, hats off to them for bringing to life a New Zealand scene, which until now, had seemed virtually non-existent.

The first thing that struck me about the Getaway Plan, all of one album into their career, was how much their act and performance was built. It was a stage fit for rock royalty, giant cover banners, adjoining sets, and lavish lights to heighten the atmospheric allure. It was a production to say the least, confounded only the exorbitant number of recording equipment flanking it that made it less a show[1] than a press conference (I counted at least 3 broadcast quality video cameras and 4 professional photographers; mobile phone toting youtube yuppies not included). Maybe they were filming a live DVD, or maybe they just liked watching video of themselves? Who knows?

So this is where I’m getting at, some four years ago, The Getaway Plan were in their infancy. Four years! Now as I type (Sunday, July 6th), the band are preparing for their national television appearance on Rove Live (Australia’s Tonight Show) and will soon permeate living couches across the country before excelling to greater heights. The accelerated careers paths in which many of today’s youthful artists venture down are both a wonderful blessing and an ominous curse. I for one am thrilled to see so many kids, who through their teens get to dream rockstar dreams. And with some hard work, and some handy internetting, can cross the globe touring and doing what they love. During my teen years, when I started a band, if we were able to get a gig down at a local bar with our friends in the audience, it was considered a great accomplishment. Now with the advent and constant self-promotion viable by Web 2.0, rockstar dreams are less so, and more reality. I’m okay with that, but I guess in today’s cultural landscape, being in a band is more about making a living, becoming famous, and selling yourself- and again, I’m an accepting individual, I’m alright with (pop) cultural change. Yet I worry of an impending doom ahead, an inevitable implosion or collapse burdened by the current market saturation of trends and clever marketing ploys. In the next 10 years when the dreams are over, will anyone bother to remember them?

Perhaps it is the romantic in me, but maybe, if we’re lucky, those old war dogs of 80’s hardcore, all its offshoots and subgenres, and the forerunners of the pre-1994 explosion, will always have their place in musical history- not because they didn’t make it big, but because the few who found their passion within, knew its echo would resonate for years to come. They didn’t have the web and a way for their enthusiasm to permeate the minds the world over at their fingertips, but in leftover issues, rare records, and a heightened sense of relevance, they may just outlive the transient, imperceptible nature of music fostered today.

Then again, maybe it’s just me, and maybe my definition of integrity has become obsolete and that quick ascension to fame is just the name of the game. Or maybe it’s envy or jealousy. Or maybe I’m right.

[1] The show however, was pretty good. The band was tight on stage, played their instruments well (albeit, with lead vocalist Matt Wright either stoned, drunk, high, or a combination of all three), and gave the crowd what they came for.