Remo Drive plays The Bowery Ballroom, +more

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Remo Drive plays The Bowery Ballroom

The teens have stars in their eyes. The cover of Remo Drive’s new album Natural, Everyday Degradation is on a flag draped over the wall behind the drum kit.

The band comes on stage and in seconds there are hands in the air, and Vans in the air. I’m watching faces in the crowd of fans, most of whom seem either high-school- or college-aged, as they face and then surmount their fear. Eventually, one by one, they say “fuck it” and do it: they climb on the stage, look around at the band members and realize that they’re, holy shit, really doing this, look back at the crowd that bore them, find the spot that looks best, and jump back in. In time, it becomes a pageant: the more confident kids (mainly the boys in Thrasher tanks and Remo Drive tees) do a signature move—a pirouette or air guitar—before diving dramatically back in. The others, the ones who needed a second to work up the courage to get up there, just give a gesture of pure triumph, then search the crowd for the friendliest faces, beginning their crowd surf by holding hands in a ritual of collective trust.

A bouncer taps a kid who’s about to climb up on the shoulder. When he sheepishly climbs down I want to tell him, hello, ignore the bouncer and run away onto the stage, and, before he knows what’s what, plunge into the maw of the crowd and disappear with your victory. I’m thinking this from the wall at the extreme right of the stage, close enough to get a good look but far enough that I’m not really a part of this concert that, I’m realizing, isn’t really for me. I’m in the corner critiquing the way they’re approaching the stage diving, something I never actually did (I was always afraid of being too fat to pull it off).

As they were about to play their last song, “I’m My Own Doctor,” someone screamed for them to come back to their basement in New Jersey. “Talk to our tour manager Greg,” Stephen Paulson joked. While that might have been something the old Remo Drive did, that was now clearly off the table.

Some fans want to keep some bands to themselves, and that's understandable. Good emo music can mean a lot to young people raw from living in the quite-literally-ending world and desperate to escape to the honesty and sanctity of teenage feelings. Remo Drive is a band well-suited to store those feelings; there's a straightforwardness to their angst and negativity that might make them grating to some, and cathartic to others craving the honesty of whining about how much shit can suck.

On their first full-length on a major label,  it's true that some of their woolier edges have been trimmed to better expose the great-sounding, well-written songs and Erik Paulson's lofty, warbling vocals. But these are the qualities have made Remo Drive destined to transcend the basement, and on this record they sound ready to leave the house shows behind for the concert halls. To Youtube and Reddit commenters lamenting the loss of "the old Remo": look, I get it. But that nostalgia is part of this game; it’s supposed to feel like you’re watching a train you just missed pull away.

Remo Drive plays The Bowery Ballroom, and I’m at the side, letting the kids have fun.

Other Stuff

  • I just fucking love the new Bon Iver song!! Here’s a live version from like a year ago that I just found. I’m glad they got rid of the trap drums:

Call your mom! I’m calling mine now.

  • I’m feeling really weird and unprepared for the BWB this month, and the venue won’t let me reschedule, so I’ll probably end up cancelling. In July, I’m planning to have an additional fundraiser which will be a bake sale!

  • I’ve started talking to some dear friends about BWB/CPS MERCH!! If that’s something you think is cool please encourage me

  • I’ve been thinking about making next months BWB an Amy Winehouse tribute… They played all of Back to Black as the house music at the Bowery Ballroom last night and when you’re drunk and sad that shit hit DIFFERENT

If you want to read more of my writing (I’ve done a few show reviews like this: Here!

If you feel like it, follow CPS on Instagram @CriticalPartyStudies or e-mail me if you want to chat criticalpartystudies@gmail.com

That’s it!

Candy and Blue Ribbon,

Adlan