Unstable, 22-Left, The Good Life, and II Deep – September @ Greencastle Indiana Review (JMcQ)

Remembering what a fiasco the last time that I reviewed a Greencastle band concert, I looked at this flyer wondering whether or not I should actually go with trusty notebook in hand. Just dismissing the actions of some of the bands and the individuals as an isolated happening, I trekked over to the skate park’s pavilion and expected pretty much the same style of music and the same talent level that I heard during the March concert. Coming into the confines of the pavilion, I made sure to scan the crowd for the crazy ex-significant other and eir’s friends, which were luckily not in attendance even though it was ey who originally told me about the show. Luckily, the tendency of the bands to never start on time made it able for to actually go and see every song that the four bands. Unstable, 22-left, The Good Life, and II Deep, would play during the night.

Unstable took the stage first that night, and had a surprising amount of followers present for a band that I hadn’t even heard of before tonight. After the started playing their set, which consisted wholly on covers, I could actually understand why Unstable was so universally liked as their style did not go much beyond the nu-metal roots of the early nineties. What really surprised me about Unstable was the fact that they were able to actually endear me to them regardless of whether or not I liked that brand of nu-metal (which I pretty much categorically dislike). Using a Clutch and Korn-influneced sound, their first track “Bounce” was actually catchy, with a multi-part harmony, garnering quite enough fan reaction. Moving on to the Deftones’ “Back to School”, the distortion of the guitar took over to the degree that I couldn’t actually hear the guitarist’s licks from each other.

After playing those three first tracks that I was not really familiar with, Unstable went onto System of a Down’s hit “Chop Suey”. Restructuring the drum line, the sound gained a different, slightly-anemic feel to the lushly produced original. Unstable’s next cover, that being the Deftones’ “Head Up”, very intelligently mixed pseudo-rapping with the typical bit of nu-metal. I had no idea what Unstable’s plan was with their set, until I realized the bouncy bass of Nirvana’s “Sliver”. By far, the most memorable cover that night, “Sliver” saw the vocalist go and assume the mantle of Kurt Cobain in a way that countless other bands just plain don’t have the talent to do. Unstable is probably one of the most honest bands out there, as they have just learned by ear and play some of the tracks that have most influenced them, instead of making carbon copies of their influencers. Unstable is a band of individuals who are still fairly fresh and green, and time will only tell whether or not they get better, or even stay together. While there is some tendency for putting too much distortion on their guitars, an inkling of stage presence and a very chunky bass more than make up for it.

Pretty much the only band that I had any prior associations with before the concert, a three-piece 22-left took the stage as the second band of the night. 22-left was the band I was so blown away by back in March, where their covers of the Ghostbusters theme and Avril Lavigne’s really made them the band of the night. Losing two members for this concert (one individual left the band due to some personal problems months ago and the vocalist couldn’t make the show due to another event), 22-left came to the show only practicing for the smallest amount of time before the show. Bursting off the starting block, 22-left was hampered by the fact that the microphone that the vocalist was singing into was pretty much the only one that was not able to be heard. After that minor problem was corrected by the individual at the PA, I started actually seeing something new in 22-left. This was a band that was like my beloved Charlestons, in that they used a California punk style (Queers, Screeching Weasel), and they had a lanky lead singer/guitarist. Using simplistic yet catchy bass lines, 22-left would have had it locked in except for some minor problems with the timing between the bassist and the guitarist/drums.

“Sex Song” was a track, heavily influenced by The Queers and The Vandals, that had a minor issue between the harder-edged drums and the decidedly lighter bass and guitar lines. Finishing off their short (3 song set), the last track brought them out of the Queers/Vandals/Screeching Weasel paradigm into something not unlike the Dead Kennedys. Without having their complete band with them at the show, it was a little hard to accurately get a feel for 22-left. While I could really get into their impressive drumming and overall sound, there was an integral piece missing from the band. Nothing showed this fact as well as their cover of “Master of Puppets”, which was played pretty much flawlessly except for the fact that it was instrumental. I could just visualize Randy there, singing it, and as such, I feel as if I didn’t see the entirety of 22-left.

Being the penultimate band in any show is a difficult role, and the phoenix that rose from What Next’s ashes, The Good Life, took that role pretty well. Aside from giving the boot to the ego of the band, college dropout Kevin, The Good Life has worked pretty hard over the summer to have a pretty good blend of covers and original songs. After doing an original song that has vocals at a much too low level (while I know that they were supposed to be whispered out, it doesn’t have the same effect on me when I can’t hear it). Moving on to their next track, a cover of Taking Back Sunday’s “Cute Without the E (Cut from the Team)”, What Next really starts placing themselves in a very specific niche that they have to try to break out from. “Cute Without the E” has spot on drumming, and multipart harmonies that would making Taking Back Sunday jealous, but the bass is slightly weak during the track.

Moving through another self-written song, which has an interesting function for the guitar as a timekeeper, The Good Life moves into their cover of “The Quiet Things that No One Ever Knows”, which is a completely other beast than their cover of “Cute Without the E”. In their Brand New cover, The Good Life cannot seem to connect with the hard guitar solos in the song, and the emotive force of Brand New’s vocalist cannot completely be captured in their version of the song. Keeping with their general framework, The Good Life plays a few other songs that are pretty much clones of Yellowcard and Taking Back Sunday. Don’t get me wrong here, I really thought that The Good Life had the most cohesive sound of all the bands at the show, but there are still some issues that they need to work through. Mainly, it is their lack of experimentation that needs to be tackled before they can be a better band than their former incarnation, What Next. The end of their show was fairly interesting, in that one of the kids that was in the back of the crowd chucked a full coke at the one guitarist of The Good Life. From what I gathered, the individuals guitar was so soaked by it that eir had to actually go and get it repaired.

Finally, II Deep got on the stage and started rocking out with the greatest punk hits of today, and well, last year. If an individual is looking for solid renditions of a number of Green Day, Blink 182, and All-American Rejects hits and a smaller number of original tracks in the same vein, II Deep is definitely on that. Specifically though, II Deep’s ‘When I Come Around’ has the first cracks in their previously solid foundation, in that the vocals are strained and the original flow of Billie Joe and the boys have been modified in such a way to make the song more poppy. Also in a rare move of actually having ties to previous bands in the Greencastle scene, II Deep busted forth with a cover of Kevin’s (What Next’s vocalist) “Thursday.”

Continuing on in their set after most of the individuals that were there to only see The Good Life had left, II Deep chugs through their cover of Good Charlotte’s ‘The Little Things’, and ‘Dammit’, and through an original, “It’s Only You”. “The Little Things” is another one of those solid covers that II Deep is known for, but “Dammit” suffers from the same problems of over-distortion that Unstable had to deal with earlier in the night. “It’s Only You” is a track with potential, but II Deep has some problems keeping up with the track. “Basket Case”, another cover of Green Day’s, had a very strong set of vocals to properly capture the feeling of Billie Joe’s smooth voice, while the guitars on the track seemed a little flatter than the original. Overall, II Deep is another hard band to get a true read on, as their set was so concerned with covers. This problem is being currently worked out, as the members of the band have been cranking out new originals one after another.

Greencastle, Indiana – September 20th, 2003

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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!

One thought on “Unstable, 22-Left, The Good Life, and II Deep – September @ Greencastle Indiana Review (JMcQ)”

  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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