I didn’t watch election returns last night. I wanted to, but I instead ended up going to see Rival Schools play one of their first shows in the area in a long time at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, NJ. Both before and after, I managed glimpses of the coverage, but I missed Obama’s acceptance and McCain’s concession. Fortunately, 24-hour news networks are on the air 24-hours a day, so I did catch them much later on in the night.
As a band, I don’t think Rival Schools has played a show in the area since 2003 at the latest. Fronted by Walter Schreifels, Rival Schools played a slightly more melodic version of the volatile post-hardcore virtually created by his earlier project from the ’90s, Quicksand. As products of the New York hardcore scene during the ’80s, Schreifels (along with drummer Sam Seigler) played in a variety of youth-oriented outfits (Gorilla Biscuits, Youth of Today, Judge, Bold) that preached the gospel of straight edge and friendship, formulating each of their songs into two-minute bursts of energy. It was a simple formula; one that thrived on the prospect of release. But as Schreifels aged, his song writing moved beyond release, into an age of tension. It was tough and expansive, with Schreifels deftly able to navigate the many states of alienation, describe what was happening, create an adjoining ear-shattering rhythm and get out alive. If I might, I believe that both Quicksand and Rival Schools were part of an unfortunately perfect soundtrack for a post 9/11 world (even though their music was created beforehand.)
I entered a pretty strange world last night. The entire country, or Jersey City and Hoboken, NJ at least, were pretty tense places to be last night before the final election results were announced. There was a certain glimmer of anxious hope on the streets, but life remained fairly tense for most people I encountered. So it was a good time to get away from the television and witness some live music that animated the spirit of so many alienated Americans. Towards the end of Rival School’s set, the many iPhones in the audience presented us with some promising news. Obama had won. “It looks like Obama won,” announced Schreifels. “And this is a song about surfing,” he continued.
A few songs later, Rival Schools had reached the end of their set. “This is the last song and it’s for George Bush,” said Schreifels. “It’s called ‘Used For Glue…'”
The tension had been released. Post-Bushism is almost upon us. And I’ll borrow a Rival Schools lyric to finish this off: “Good things are coming our way.”