"Bury me in St. Louis. Actually no, i want to be shot in space in a fucking rocket, but this place holds a very special place in my heart. My family lives here. I lived here for six months."
Veteran emo-rocker James Dewees has nothing to prove. A member of seminal groups the Get Up Kids and Coalesce, Dewees started his own one-man band, Reggie and the Full Effect, in 1998. On record he plays the part of both "Reggie" and "The Full Effect," performing all the instruments and vocals with guest spots from a host of people including "Fluxuation," a new-wave dance artist, and "Common Denominator," a Finnish metal band fronted by Dewees as "Klaus." Reggie concerts usually give a little time to all three, including props, costume changes and plenty of fake blood. The spectacle has even toured and recorded with My Chemical Romance and New Found Glory.
The last time Reggie and the Full Effect played in town was a March 2006 show at Pop's, in support of Songs Not To Get Married To, a darker album chronicling his divorce. He later released Last Stop: Crappy Town, an album about the trials and tribulations of riding the New York subway to rehab, but due to a lack of faith from Vagrant Records the album was shelved for over a year. The most recent tour was impossibly short, even omitting Dewees' hometown of Kansas City. It was good to have the group back, to be sure.
Openers Pentimento and Dads would have felt right at home opening for Reggie at any point in his career. Pentimento mixed the emo sounds of bands such as Hey Mercedes and Taking Back Sunday while the impossibly small two-piece rock outfit Dads swelled and shrank its Minus the Bear meets Japandroids inspired sound through every song. Fubar was the perfect venue for this show; I even overheard it compared to the old Creepy Crawl (Hallowed Be Thy Name).
As Dewees and the band took the stage in comedically over-sized cowboy hats, he mused on the cough drop he was sucking and smacking into the mic. "This is a Riccola cough drop. Have you ever had one of these? The Scandinavian vapors going into your nose are better than cocaine. Okay, I'm gonna chew this up now so we can start the show." His self aware, self deprecating persona is just as prevalent in the songs as it is in his banter, and equally funny. For a guy who used to have elaborate costumes (bunnysuits, fireman outfits) and gags (reenacting R. Kelly's Trapped in The Closet in full mime gear, riding a Power Wheels jeep onto the stage of the Pageant) it is interesting to note that he doesn't seem to need any of that now. Based on the way Dewees handled himself and the material he performed, it feels like he's never been more comfortable. Constant pot-shots about Vagrant, his former record label and his age made up a majority of his banter, but his honesty and levity on the subjects meant every joke and barb resounded as truth with the audience.
Continue to page two for more of our review.
"This is off of my most-returned record -- 30,000 copies returned in this first week," Dewees quipped with a smile. "Vagrant wasn't very happy about it, but I sure was." The reason the album was returned so many times was it's joke title and nature. Titled Under the Tray, the physical disc itself was hidden under the black plastic tray of the Jewel case, making it look as though it were empty.
James Dewees is 37. He will always be the first to remind you of this, playfully calling himself the "Gandolf of emo." He needs to remind you because it's so easy to forget as you get lost in songs with topics as varied as girls, breakfast, bad tattoos, rehab, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, the Loch Ness Monster and the DMV. The older tracks feel right at home next to material from last year's Kickstarter-funded No Country for Old Musicians. As the set drew to a close, he reminded the crowd and clued in first timers that "The show isn't over. There's still 2 more bands." Dewees then unbuttoned his shirt to reveal a smaller tank top and launched into his set as Fluxuation. As soon as he left the stage, the band returned in full Nun Habits with bloody white masks, droning for a couple minutes until Dewees emerged in a habit as well, face drenched in fake blood.
And don't worry if you missed it -- after the show, Dewees made it a point to let everyone know the group would be back this summer.
Reggie and the Full Effect: No Country for Old Musicians Intro Girl Why'd You Run Away? From Me to You Kanji Tattoos Still in Style Drunk Girl at a Get Up Kids Show/ Congratulations Smack and Katy revenge is a dish best served at Park Chan-Wook's (Korean Revenge Film) Fowlin Around Your Girlfriends Hate Me Who Needs Another Drink Take Me Home Please 37 Thanks for Staying Disregard Get Well Soon
Fluxuation: Mood 4 Luv Love Reality
Common Denominator: DMV Dwarf Invasion
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