Part II: Greencastle Carnival, Saturday, February 28th, 2004
With GBA, The Good Life.
Getting ready for the concert, I began to walk over to Greencastle High School in the most delightful mood, as the weather was unseasonably warm for a February day. I had my portable mp3 player with me, and was able to check out one of the tracks that I was told that the band headlining the show that night â€“ The Good Life â€“ would play. I also had The Freedumb Fries, Stiff Little Fingers, Hilary Duff, and Fear in the playlist, so a nice set of songs would serenade me during the short walk. I got to the high school, wondering all the while whether the powers that be would let me in, since the concert was supposed to be a GHS-only student type of thing. Trevor (The Good Lifeâ€™s Vocalist) had mentioned that restriction, even going as far as offering to let me in, but no one was even close to watching the door. Walking into the multi-purpose room (old gymnasium?), the room was really decrepit for a high school, but there was already a few people sitting around, and the first band to play, GBA, setting up.
GBA started their set with little fanfare, with pretty much everyone in the auditorium either talking within their own enclave of friends or talking to the individuals from The Good Life. The lights were also on full-bore during the set, something that really didnâ€™t add much to the mood that the band was trying to create. Starting off â€œAnother Cloneâ€, the guitar starts off a little on the muddy side but Jeffâ€™s drumming was on-the-dot, not innovative but functional to a t. The riff-based nature of the guitar lines in â€œAnother Cloneâ€ are aurally odd â€“ it makes the song a little stop-start, instead of being a flowing track. Moving onto â€œIt Makes Me Sickâ€, with a guitar line incredibly reminiscent of early Metallica, GBA almost loses any cohesion with the overly-distorted guitar on the track as well as the time signatures. â€œWaking the Deadâ€ finishes off the first half of the set, starting out a little rough with distortion with the bass, and continuing that â€œoff-nessâ€ with a slightly off-time sound. After â€œWaking the Deadâ€, the band would take a slight break as they would formulate their strategy for the second half.
Getting back onstage to a crowd that was increasingly becoming hostile and slightly bored with their music, GBA still nonetheless played their hardest, starting up with the unfinished-feeling â€œGive Your Government Backâ€. The â€œChristmas in Hollisâ€-styled rap delivery of Justin and pseudo-Tom Morello guitar line makes this track really seem like their â€œRage Against the Machineâ€ track â€“ the message of the song was solid, but it just didnâ€™t feel as if the track had the polish it needed. Moving onto their magnum opus, â€œThe Torturerâ€, which has the added flair of the back-forth vocal delivery of Justin and Jon, GBA really hit their highest moment at a time when individuals were getting increasingly distracted by the setting up of a pie-throwing booth. â€œThantaphobiaâ€ was the next track, and it was really at this track that GBA started losing their focus, with a stoppage during both this and their second go-around at â€œWaking the Deadâ€. GBA really had problems moving from a crowd of about 100 supporters the night before to about 40 half-interested listeners this day, to a dark room to a brightly-lit one, and a supportive atmosphere to one in which individuals almost wanted the band to fail. Their ability did show through at points, but Iâ€™m afraid I was one of the only individuals that could see it.
Still having some time left, Jeff, Jon, and Dustin would take the guitar, bass, and drums respectively, and go through a rough version of Blink 182â€™s â€œCarouselâ€ not once but twice. Trying to whip the crowd into some sort of frenzy, the effort failed as the crowd bunched around the pie-throwing booth. Musically, the cover had some minor issues, most of all being the fill-in drumming of Dustin that didnâ€™t exactly seem to match the melody laid down by Jon and Jeff. After breaking down their set, individuals crowded around The Good Lifeâ€™s set-up, in which Hyll 5 started to sing one of their tracks off their debut release. A lack of focus as well as an unfamiliarity with the track really caused the act to suffer, but the crowd was absolutely enthralled with them. Everyone that was around the Carnival seemed to start crowding around the corner of the room that The Good Life was going to play at, probably reaching 75 or so people at the apex of matters.
Using a new set-up for this show, The Good Life was a harder-edged band than in any of the previous times that I had seen them live. Really starting their set with their original â€œSave Meâ€, which the band rendered impeccably, The Good Life was hindered by the settings of their equipment, periodically cutting out the vocals of either Zach or Trevor. Striking me the hardest was the stepping up of ability by Jake during this set â€“ gone are the slightly bland and off-time guitar licks of the past, and especially during the cover of Billy Talentâ€™s â€œHere It Goesâ€, Jake really steps up with guitar lines that are incredibly distinctive while still fitting in perfectly with the vocal assaults by the other 80% of the band. The crowd, while being much more pliable than during GBAâ€™s set, was still uncharacteristically tame during The Good Lifeâ€™s set, save for a few key individuals. Thus, even after informing the crowd about the fact that they were recording the show to send to various individuals, nary a person would sing along to the lyrics of their omnipresent Thousand Foot Krutch cover, â€œWhen In Doubtâ€.
Moving onto another new cover, The Early Novemberâ€™s â€œAnother Storyâ€, Jake again takes to the forefront of the band with eirâ€™s incredible guitar lines, but is really challenged for supremacy during the song with the 4 part harmony that the rest of the band joins together for. Slightly toning down the energy with the John-begun â€œLooks So Coldâ€, Trevor and the band really keep that trend going with another original, K Squared, which also is slower, also has John singing, but has Jake playing a hair-metal riff to show off yet another facet of eirâ€™s playing. To cap off the rest of their set, The Good Life would pull out some tried-and-true covers in Saves the Dayâ€™s â€œAt Your Funeralâ€, Brand Newâ€™s â€œ70×7â€ and Taking Back Sundayâ€™s â€œCute Without the Eâ€. While each of these tracks have great audience-sing along sections to them, I really think that this option was under-utilized. I mean, what gets an audience more into a band than having them sing along to one of their favorite songs?
Still, we notice two key things with this show. First off, we see a band with a great deal of talent in GBA being thrown off-guard with certain factors after having their best show just a night before at Meherry Hall. If the individuals who were in the multipurpose room were actually anywhere nearer than 50 foot from the band, and if the lights were turned out, we could have noticed another great show like the Meherry show previously. Secondly, we see the continued domination of The Good Life, coming into their own being as songwriters. With â€œK Squaredâ€, the same general formula that created â€œSave Meâ€ is used to make the track, which has both a good and a bad side: while it does provide The Good Life with a sound that is uniquely thereâ€™s, it also is incredibly easy for the band to fall into a rut and not move beyond this first formula. However, I find it fairly unlikely that this will be a problem, and with this show, The Good Lifeâ€™s best as a band, I can only foresee greater things for the act.