Tuesday, July 14, 2009

It Sucks when Bands You Grew Up with Break Up...

(old school pic of the band)

Or go on 'hiatus'. Such is the case for me with the Matches. Growing up in the East Bay, in Northern California, I was around when the Matches were rising in the ranks of the East Bay punk scene. Back in the day they were a great pop-punk band, with very catchy songs and a phenomenally entertaining live show. They eventually signed with Epitaph Records, which in my mind was a bad idea. Epitaph didn't seem to really promote the band well, and as a result they kicked around for a few years until where they are now, about to go on an 'indefinite hiatus', which for any band not called Blink 182 or No Doubt basically means 'breaking up'.

I listened to the Matches throughout high school, when I first discovered them Sophomore year while seeing my friend's silly hardcore band at a Teen community center. After that, I went to every Matches show in the Bay. Before they got signed to Epitaph and went on national tours, the Matches played once a month (at a show called L3 - Live, Loud and Local) at this AWESOME venue called iMusicast. The place, in Oakland, was a really great venue which recorded each set for the bands and was an all-ages hangout for people to gather and watch concerts. The place was eventually forced to close down since any show not featuring the Matches sold horribly, and that was unfortunate, since there really wasn't any other place offering the same type of services in the Bay Area as iMusicast. Local bands played there all the time, and it was a great way to find out about bands you hadn't heard of yet that were from the area. Some national touring bands stopped by every now and then too (such as Rx Bandits and Zebrahead).

Its website is still running, so you can check it out and see how awesome it was (www.imusicast.com). The Matches also basically helped bring the place to popularity, since they played there so often back in the day and brought so many people in as word spread about the band through the Bay Area music scene. They also were incredibly nice guys who would routinely stick around after the shows, and sometimes hit up other concerts in the Bay Area with acoustic guitars and play on the street to whoever would pay attention. It was really cool how they did that.

Well, now they are going on a 'break', but I'm pretty sure this will be the end of the band. They've been pretty quiet for a few years now, and their last album (A Band in Hope) wasn't nearly as good as the previous two were. So, I'm kinda sad deep down inside, since I had such high expectations for them. Their pop punk songs were so good, but as they got older they veered into weird experimental stuff that while interesting, wasn't really the same type of stuff that got me into the band.

Anyway, here's a video of "Sick Little Suicide", one of my favorite songs of theirs off of the album E. Von Dahl Killed the Locals. They had self-released this album, but when Epitaph picked them up they remastered it and released it on that label.

After that album, they released Decomposer, which was a pretty eclectic album of a bunch of different styles. Epitaph somewhat ran a big promotional campaign for this album, as the band was on Warped Tour and a bunch of other tours and things. The album didn't do really well commercially, though, which wasn't a good sign. Here's the video for "Papercut Skin":

Not very pop-punk ish, but pretty good. They also released a video for this weird slow track called "Salty Eyes", that was also pretty good but definitely not pop punk.

The next album, A Band in Hope, wasn't really as good as the previous ones, and the general lack of excitement toward that is what I think caused the band to be where it is now. The songs became slowed down and Shawn (singer) started dressing like Johnny Depp. While it was a cool image for a while, I fear they were swallowed up by their own artistry, creating songs that were incredibly strange, extremely ambitious, and basically VERY different in style than what had made them the band they were.

(Band photo circa A Band in Hope era. Justin (bass), on the left, left the band shortly after it was released.)

The band probably isn't for everyone, as I've heardsome complaints about Shawn's voice and such, but to me and countless Bay Area kids who listened to them back in the 2002-2004 era, we didn't notice. We were having too much fun at the shows.

They're going on to different projects (Guitarist Jon DeVoto is going to do a solo band thing, and singer Shawn Harris is working with some band from Australia), and they're playing two "goodbye" shows, one in LA at the Troubadour on 8/22 and one at the Fillmore in San Francisco the next night. I have to go to the SF one, obviously.

I just hope it isn't the last time I see the band live. Here's hoping the 'hiatus' is just that.

1 comment:

Becky said...

I so feel you. =( Bird by Bird's pretty awesome though.