February 28, 2007

Dancing with Rockstars

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If you like Chin Up Chin Up, then you have damn good taste in music. All jokes aside, Chin Up Chin Up is one of those bands that you either love or hate, and quite honestly, I don’t know anyone that dislikes them.

Most of the time they are classified as an indie band, but for truthful purposes, let’s consider them an indie-pop band that makes you dance whether you like it or not. I like the sound of that — it actually seems much more accurate.

The last time Chin Up Chin Up rocked Cornell — in the spring of 2005 as the main support for The Walkmen — they were touring in support of 2004’s We Should Have Never Lived Like We Were Skyscrapers. This time around, however, with two full-length releases, including 2006’s This Harness Can’t Ride Anything, the band returned as the headliner.

Ithaca’s own Stanley and The Livingstons started the party with their folk indie-rock. With a short but energetic set, the band prepared the crowd for Chin Up Chin Up. As more and more people poured in, antsy and ready to dance, Chin Up Chin Up took the stage.

Both albums from Chin Up Chin Up are well crafted, but the best part of each is that there is always potential to move in some form.“This Harness Can’t Ride Anything,” both the opening and title track of the band’s most recent album, is arguably one of the catchiest tunes in their collection.

Busy with guitar escapades and lyrics that can actually be heard, something unusual for other Chin Up Chin up songs, the band blazed through “This Harness” and got the crowd ready to dance. Most Chin Up Chin Up songs have some type of danceable aspect to them, so whether you like to move or not, it’s damn near impossible not to.

When the band began playing “We’ve Got To Keep Running,” the vibe only continued to escalate, even though people were just plain moving instead of running.

“I Need a Friend With a Boat” is a perfect example of what Chin Up Chin Up does best: starting off with a quiet piano (or keyboard, rather), bringing in each instrument one by one and eventually building up to a loud energy-filled blast of sound. “Landlocked Lifeguards” is one of the softer pieces — at least that’s what the band leads you to believe until the climax, an intense blend of sounds, leaves your ears ringing.

Chin Up Chin Up has a (logical) habit of placing their catchiest songs as the opening tracks of their albums. “Virginia Don’t Drown,” the first song on their relatively successful freshman full-length, was played dead on with loud “Virginia Don’t Drown” yells from the crowd as the song ended.

Similarly, Chin Up Chin Up has a knack for creating memorable transitions on their albums, and a good live band can do the same thing with their live show. “We Should Have Never Lived Like We Were Skyscrapers” is another killer song with an energy and spunk that exemplifies the band’s ability to change the entire vibe of a song.

Listening to this song on the album, one can only imagine how it would build up during a live show. Beginning with a hushed introduction, courtesy of lead-singer Jeremy Bolen’s vocals, each instrument slowly comes in and eventually creates a colossal auditory experiment.

“Falcons and Vulcans” and “Collide The Tide,” arguably two of the more relaxed tracks from the first album, really distinguish Bolen’s soft-spoken vocals throughout the entire track. Both songs relaxed the crowd for a bit before the bandfinished its set. After what seemed like a relatively short set, simply because everyone was enjoying the show, the band took a short break before their two-song encore.

Chin Up Chin Up has a solid fan base, and it will very likely continue to grow since they’ve joined Suicide Squeeze Records.

I vote for them to continue the tradition of stopping by Cornell every couple of years — it’s nice a little trend we have going.