September 11, 2003

Open Media

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This summer, I had the chance to see Q and Not U perform at Project 1877 in Pittsburgh. The band opened up with a slew of songs from their latest album, Different Damage, and the crowd appeared unfamiliar with and indifferent to the material being presented to them, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the band’s play was tight as can be. The undercurrent of frustration reached its peak when an unimpressed hipster yelled, “Play something old!” Guitarist/vocalist Chris Richards was justifiably annoyed, replying “We’re a new band. We play new songs.” His point was made. Q and Not U is not a band to dwell on the past. Instead, they constantly strive ahead toward fulfilling their potential as one of the most promising punk bands to emerge in the last several years.

D.C-based Q and Not U formed in November of 1998 and were quickly signed by Dischord Records. For proof of their progressive mindset, one must look no further than their second album, the aforementioned Different Damage, released last fall. In late 2001, bassist and founding member Matt Borlik left the band. Part of what made the band’s 2000 debut, No Kill No Beep Beep, so successful was Borlik’s pounding basslines that drove some of the albums finest songs, such as “Hooray for Humans” and “Nine Things Everybody Knows.” With such a vital member of the band now absent, fans couldn’t help but be somewhat apprehensive about the group’s future. The remaining members — Richards, guitarist/vocalist Harris Klahr, and drummer/vocalist John Davis — moved on to record what would become Different Damage, an album that at least equals No Kill …

For the album, Richards switched over to bass, and he more than adequately replaces Borlik. Whereas No Kill … occasionally comes across as more of a collection of singles (albeit damn good ones) than a true album, Different Damage’s strength lies in its coherence. Each song flows smoothly into the next, leaving the listener with the feeling that if they skip over any particular song, they’ll have missed out on a critical piece of the album’s development, as if they had skipped a chapter in a book.

The band’s live shows carry out in the same fashion. Returning to the Q and Not U show I witnessed in Pittsburgh, their set, although a little on the short side, was relentless — the band paused only briefly between songs, if at all. They tour with a similar intensity.

In early April, Davis broke his bass drum foot while playing hockey, sidelining him and the band for almost two months. The band reluctantly canceled the remaining dates planned for April and May, including an April 24th committment here in Ithaca. However, the band came back almost immediately after Davis’s foot healed, admirably rescheduling almost all of the canceled dates. After fulfilling their previous engagements, they promptly began a 43-date, 33-state tour which will extend well into October. Cities whose spring dates were canceled and weren’t made up in June or July will be visited on the current tour, including Sunday’s show. Needless to say, when all is said and done their tour van should have some pretty well-worn-in assgrooves.

On Monday, Q and Not U released their latest single, “X-Polynation/Book of Flags.” The band hopes to begin recording this winter, presumably at the famed Inner Ear Studios, where both No Kill … and Different Damage were completed. Their third album will be released sometime in 2004, followed by — you guessed it — more touring.

Tickets for Sunday’s show are six dollars, five with Cornell ID. The show begins at 7:30 pm in Appel Commons. Sharing the bill with Q and Not U on Sunday will be fellow Dischord artists Black Eyes and El Guapo, along with Ithaca-based Location.

Archived article by Ross Mcgowan