GBA, The Good Life, GHS Multi-Purpose Room, Greencastle, Indiana (February 28th, 2004)

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 – The Good Life – 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 Life’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 didn’t add much to the mood that the band was trying to create. Starting off “Another Clone”, the guitar starts off a little on the muddy side but Jeff’s drumming was on-the-dot, not innovative but functional to a t. The riff-based nature of the guitar lines in “Another Clone” are aurally odd – it makes the song a little stop-start, instead of being a flowing track. Moving onto “It Makes Me Sick”, 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. “Waking the Dead” finishes off the first half of the set, starting out a little rough with distortion with the bass, and continuing that “off-ness” with a slightly off-time sound. After “Waking the Dead”, 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 “Give Your Government Back”. The “Christmas in Hollis”-styled rap delivery of Justin and pseudo-Tom Morello guitar line makes this track really seem like their “Rage Against the Machine” track – the message of the song was solid, but it just didn’t feel as if the track had the polish it needed. Moving onto their magnum opus, “The Torturer”, 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. “Thantaphobia” 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 “Waking the Dead”. 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 I’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 182’s “Carousel” 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 didn’t exactly seem to match the melody laid down by Jon and Jeff. After breaking down their set, individuals crowded around The Good Life’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 “Save Me”, 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 – gone are the slightly bland and off-time guitar licks of the past, and especially during the cover of Billy Talent’s “Here It Goes”, 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 GBA’s set, was still uncharacteristically tame during The Good Life’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, “When In Doubt”.

Moving onto another new cover, The Early November’s “Another Story”, Jake again takes to the forefront of the band with eir’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 “Looks So Cold”, 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 eir’s playing. To cap off the rest of their set, The Good Life would pull out some tried-and-true covers in Saves the Day’s “At Your Funeral”, Brand New’s “70×7” and Taking Back Sunday’s “Cute Without the E”. 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 “K Squared”, the same general formula that created “Save Me” 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 there’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 Life’s best as a band, I can only foresee greater things for the act.

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Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University. I have been the editor at NeuFutur / since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

One thought on “GBA, The Good Life, GHS Multi-Purpose Room, Greencastle, Indiana (February 28th, 2004)”

  1. GBA UPDATE: Jon Davies is now a father, and a truckdriver. Joe Flint finally lost enough weight to join the marines. Jeff Hinkel and Dustin Weddle went on to play in various bands before focusing on their various solo projects. Jeff Hinkel later expanded his musical horizons and went on to find success as a hiphop producer and then proceeded to relocate to Santiago, Chile. He is now continuing producing as well as focusing on his solo career, while Dustin Weddle found God, still is persuing his solo career, and playing worship music for his church. Justin Renner went to school to focus on his acting career, focused on his solo career, and has most recently joined the band deadghost, adding vocals and mandolin. In early 2011, before Jeff moved to Chile, before Justin joined deadghost, and before Dustin found God, they were brought together one night and ended up jamming and recording 2 songs, which actually turned out incredible and very unique. Unfortunately, shortly after, they went their seperate ways. All of the members of GBA, except for Joe, enjoyed this period of their lives and had a great time.

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