Dec 23, 2009

Favorite Bands of the Decade

When looking back on this decade, I managed to come across a lot of my past that wasn't worthy of forgetting. For starters, there was the music.
I was always into rock music. It's the traditional white son thing to listen to rock music, play an instrument, and imagine the big leagues. Unlike many of the people before me, I asked myself "When did Motley Crue become classic rock?" and in fact, why was classic rock so classic. Led Zeppelin was boastful and nauseous. Pink Floyd wooed me to sleep.

But then, that wasn't my generation, really. My form of classic rock was in punk music. As I have said before, I started with the Sex Pistols "Nevermind the Bollocks..." and moved on from there.
It was also a great time to be into punk. A local radio station named Indie 103.1 would debut around 2004 to critical praise and feature DJ's such as Dickey Barret (Mighty Mighty Bosstones) and Joe Escalante (The Vandals). The soundtrack was a breath of fresh air, and featured a show called "Complete Control" that would have guests from punk bands such as U.S. Bombs. It was a wonderful time to have a radio, even if the thrill would only last to the beginning of 2009.

I was notably into the more pop punk stuff that MTV was shilling.



There was Blink-182, a band I hold close to my heart simply because "Take Off Your Pants and Jacket" is the first real record I bought to make a difference and still make a presence in my collection. Their catchy anthems and occasional joke songs were lost on me, but I loved it (and that's what probably contributed most to my dry humor... not getting jokes like this at an early age).

I eventually saw them live on their 2009 reunion tour alongside Asher Roth, Taking Back Sunday, and Weezer. I was in the lawn section and I had to squint, but when the opening chords of "Anthem Part 2" dropped, I was in awe. I wanted a closer seat, but I sufficed with hearing almost every song I wanted to hear.
Seven years after the record was released, I had collected their other work and realized that deep down they mean something more to me than I could really figure out at the time. Sure, "I Miss You" was annoying at times in middle school, but looking at it now, I see so much more.


One of the other mainstream pop punk bands that I got into at this time was the Canadian Sum-41, who I first was introduced to with "Fat Lip", but didn't appreciate until "In Too Deep". The rest is magic. The school was into them and I couldn't put down "All Killer No Filler" for the life of me.

The only issue... "Fat Lip" featured the line "The doctor said my mother should have had an abortion." My parents flipped and almost took the record away. This probably started me down the wrong road for occasional abortion jokes (though the Green Day "Good Riddance" moment of Sarah Silverman on "The Sarah Silverman Program" at the abortion clinic is easily the best).
I listened to them on the radio when they played KROQ's Almost Acoustic Christmas. It was amazing to hear an audience and a raw band. Those KROQ shows on the radio were my first real exposure to what I wanted to hear at a concert.
Following "All Killer" and the songs that made me dance in my bedroom, came the classic "Does This Look Infected?". Predecessing that was an article in Rolling Stone which detailed their trip to Asia and having mushrooms. I must've read that story twenty times. It's easily my favorite article on any band in any publication.
The record caused equal concern with "Anna Nichole is a Dirty Cock". The title alone almost got the record removed from my collection yet again. This was also my first album to feature a lovely Parental Advisory sticker on it.
The rest of the decade was spent with just as awesome songs and my realization that the earlier the records, the more they worked as nostalgic on each play. They were still fun and rebellious, but overall, Sum-41 was one of the best bands I've heard this decade. Also probably one of the best runs in albums.


The Hives are also noteworthy in that they are my vote for the greatest singles band you've never heard. Yes, they had massive radio play for "Hate to Say I Told You So" and "Tick Tick Boom", but in comparison to the modern boy band, Fall Out Boy, an average radio listener will not recognize the Hives, despite production from Timbaland.

I haven't seen these guys either, but their performance of "Walk Idiot Walk" on David Letterman upon their record "Tyrannosaurus Hives" release is one to marvel. The lead singer controls the stage in psychotic fury and the band plays it cool. Every time I see them perform, it makes me wonder why I am not there.
And unlike many bands that I feel produce mixed work, I have felt the Hives have progressively improved and are destined for greatness.
That is, if the world pays attention. I definitely keep track of them and I haven't been let down yet.

The skanks in Less Than Jake also deserve to make this list as not only have they succeeded in music, but in changing my perception of what a concert could be. I saw them at the Roxy in 2005 with no expectations. After an amazing set from the Matches, they took the stage and it was everything imaginable.
Toilet paper, crowd sing-alongs, even "The Price is Right" theme song managed to make it into the set. When I saw them again in 2007 on a bill with Reel Big Fish, Against All Authority, and Streetlight Manifesto, they had amped it up with stage props and costumes. To put it simply, it was the best show I had ever seen.
As for their music, it was anthemic to me. While I preferred their less polished work of "Hello Rockview", they have made solid entries and I still find them to describe life almost poetically without losing touch.


Their latest, "GNVFLA" opens with "City of Gainnesville", which I feel describes the culture of this decade in the simplest form through a first person narrative. It goes on to talk about turnstile jobs and drug addled teens.

This is easily my favorite band for all of their dynamics thrown perfectly together.



Green Day also had a phenomenal comeback that I was for and against all in the span of five years. The day "American Idiot" came out is a day I remember clearly. I remember sitting in a Carl's Jr. trying the newly installed Green Burrito menu and following the album along word for word thinking "Damn, they're going to be big."

I saw them twice and they were very arena rock in presence. The fireworks and crowd interaction became too cliche and expected by the second time, but the songs remained the same and I enjoyed that aspect a lot.
They also released "21st Century Breakdown" which to many sounds like their current career path, but was a solid record nonetheless. I haven't seen them on this tour, but to say that Green Day's not heard in the music I listen to is a lie.
There were many other great bands that I loved during this decade. I haven't seen them all live, but my love for their music adds so much to the desire to see them perform.

I have also discovered many new bands that I wish I could see live, including No Use For a Name.
These moments are highly attributed to my friend Alex, whose involvement with the scene has given me exposure and interest in the actual music.



This decade has also given me some time to expose myself to the underground scene. My favorite of all of these is easily Jack Anthony, a former band-now just singer who I saw play alongside Up Synrome at the Knitting Factory in Hollywood, CA and heard something special.
Thankfully, Myspace was around at the time, and I got in touch with the band. That started my relationship with them. I followed them to gigs mostly around San Pedro, which included the San Pedro Brewery (where I heard them play everything from great sets to drunken slurs) to occasional It's A Grind acoustic shows. We even got V.I.P. treatment at the Galaxy once for being seen talking with them.
Somehow in the time of their existence, I knew what it was like to support local bands. Jack and the Crew knew it too. They told MTV once I was their biggest fan. I pretty much praised them in phone calls to MTV and even had a fan group that while faltered, represented my love.
Somehow, after they broke up, I never quite recovered. I still listen to local acts, but I am not as attached. I still long for the moment when I see Jack playing a show and I have a chance to go out. I haven't seen him or the others in years, though we still keep contact (Jack especially).
It's pretty silly, but listening to their two albums, I can remember hearing them in every way... electrical and acoustic.


To put it bluntly, I feel these were the bands that mattered most. Sure, there were good times with Zebrahead, NOFX, Guttermouth, Reel Big Fish, Better Luck Next Time, and the Vandals (who at three concerts wins my most seen of one act) and I remember all of those other acts that others forgot, but the ones I've mentioned have stood out especially to me.
It wasn't just their music, it was their impact. Whether it was just amazing music videos or amazing performances, they are instilled in me and while not the general public's description of memorable phenomena, definitely was worth every moment.

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