22left, The Maddox, and What Next @ Greencastle High School (JMcQ)

3.15.03

In the last couple of weeks I began to notice my campus’ Union Building become littered with flyers for a concert that was going to happen on the Ides of March. As I did not know any of the bands involved, this only made me more curious, so I asked my significant other, who informed me about the Greencastle scene. Specifically, it was said that the headlining band was not all they were cracked up to be, and I should just avoid the concert instead of wasting my time at it. Lucky for me, I did not heed that advice, and the few hours I spent at the concert were some of the best that I have had at a show. Sure, the sound may not have been the best, and the crowd may have been divided into what people have affectionately called “preppies” and “dorks”, but there was still that fleeting spirit of DIY and community, something that just does not happen as much more as it did 5, 10, or 15 years ago.

After listening through what seemed to be the greatest hits of the 1970, including “three steps” by Three Dog Night and a host of other songs, the first act, 22-left, took the stage. Looking more than a little bit uncomfortable at the beginning, many people were just very ready to dismiss the act as one that was still green (they have only been around for three weeks) or that they were just filler for the other bands. 22-left quickly dispelled these notions with a searing rendition of Treble Charger’s “American Psycho”, a song that I was not aware that Indiana inhabitants were familiar. While the amount of the actual songs that 22-left had written and composed on their own was low, the quality and diversity of their covers were probably the strongest of the numerous high school-age bands that I’ve ever seen. Hitting strongly with their horn-driven cover of Ray Parker, Jr.’s “Ghostbusters”, they proceed with a strong cover of R.E.M.’s It’s the End of the World As We Know It (and I feel fine) but strike out with an uncharacteristically weak version of Katrina and the Waves’ “Walking on Sunshine”. Redeeming themselves with a bass-powered cover of the Pink Panther theme, 22-left, as was rumoured, ended their set with a flawless reproduction of Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8er Boi”.

22-left, as has been said, only formed a few weeks ago, and if I may be so bold, they have talent much beyond their time as a band. A lot of people, regardless of high school clique identification, were wearing 22-left shirts, indicative of how visible their collective talent is. As the tremulous clipping subsided, and the curtains were pulled across the stage, another very talented band was getting themselves ready, named The Madoxx. A number of minutes passed where I was able to explore the little place that was the school’s auditorium and gym wing, which was just incredibly boring. Soon, people started again congregating in the auditorium itself, and two retro-dressed guys and a drummer took the stage, and began jamming out. If individuals were looking for another form of punk rock to be played by this band, they were bound to be disappointed. Madoxx played this very technical type of wank-fest that would go all over the map, from guitar rock (e.g. the cover of “Sweet Home Alabama) to hardcore and even very emotive rock. Where 22left was so polished in their stage act, The Madoxx were polished in their technical rock skills, and pretty much everyone in the crowd was aware of that. While some of the people could just dismiss 22left or What Next out of hand, very few (if any) individuals dared to even diss The Madoxx.

Finally, the band that seemingly everyone wanted to see clamored up on stage, that being What Next. While I do not know the dichotomy of Greencastle High School, from what I learned later was that the crowd was pretty much 50-50 in liking and hating the band purely based on principle. What Next, for those that care about High School cliques, is composed of two sports players and a college dropout, along with some other members. For being what most people wrote off as a “preppy” band, they were pretty good. I had to weather literally tons of anti-What Next sentiment from pretty much any individual who talked to me, including my ex girlfriend, who went to High School with most of the band members. Shaking off this unbased negativity, I started writing notes down frantically about this act, and was a little bit surprised by the end of their set.

Throughout their set, I noticed some minor problems with the band. First off, What Next seemed to be going to two different beats – one side of the band (the high schoolers) going for the loud and brash punk rock, and the other side (the college dropout) trying to be very clear and emotive. This really created a dissonant sound for the band that was only negated at certain parts during the performance, specifically those covers (Weezer, Boxcar Racer), where there was virtually no room for error. Don’t get me wrong at all – the band really did have a following at the concert that were completely into anything that they did. My prognosis for this act is that they try to reach a common consensus on where they want to go with the act – towards the more poppy and brash sounds of popular punk and rock, or into the emotive and soul-searching aspects of indie and emo rock. There definitely is talent that can be tapped if the right balance is made, but for right now What Next is at a crucial time in their development – make the right turn and they could be a balls-out, rocking act, or if they don’t decide correctly, they will be another band lost forever in the mists of time.

The concert really hosted an eclectic mix of styles, one that individuals would not typically find in a high school, much less in a homogeneous scene in any of America’s big cities. Each band had a different audience, and this created an atmosphere that was both hostile and nurturing. No band was bad, no band completely made me pray to them either, but all three acts brought something different to the show. 22left brought loads of stage presence and an all-around good time, The Maddox brought technique, and What Next tried to reconcile two very different schools of music. All and all, it was worth the $3 I sprung to get in. Typically, I would review each act as if they were a CD, with a rating out of 10, but due to all of the petty hatreds and flak I have received, and would receive by giving any band any sort of rating above the other two, I figure that an open discussion of the acts would do.

Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University.

I have been the editor at NeuFutur / neufutur.com since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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