Midtown made it to Brooklyn for their first show in almost a decade on Wednesday night (May 14), powering through a 19-song set at the Knitting Factory. The influential New Jersey pop-punk band (playing under the pseudonym of Merman) had originally planned to reunite for this weekend’s Skate and Surf Festival at Asbury Park, NJ, but decided to shake off the dust at a secret show across the rivers.
Frontman Gabe Saporta achieved much more mainstream success as the frontman of Cobra Starship, though last night proved he hasn’t forgotten what the Midtown days meant. The Drive-Thru Records (and later Columbia) band released three full length album between 2000 and 2004, and represented them fairly evenly at the show, going as far as to perform a rendition of “Direction” from their 1999 EP “The Sacrifice of Life.”
Decked out with a gold chain, gold watch and Misfits sleeveless tee (with braces added on the trademark skull), Saporta was still rocking the Cobra Starship look, but repped the spirit of the old days, namedropping the members’ various older projects (Humble Beginnings and Nowhere Fast) and thanking venues for hosting Midtown’s earliest shows. He mixed up Skate and Surf Festival as “Surf and Skate,” but given the nostalgia overload, the oversight was forgiven.
Midtown’s other three members, who haven’t lived the Cobra life since Midtown’s 2005 split, looked elated just to be back onstage with the band. “I’m so excited to be drinking this late in the evening on a work night,” gushed guitarist Tyler Rann.
Guitarists Rann and Heath Saraceno did an admirable job of holding down their backing and occasional lead vocals in Midtown’s polyphonic jams (which, in the early 2000s, were the closest pop-punk came to Backstreet Boys melodies) in a totally respectable way. The set led off with Midtown’s most recognizable hit, 2004’s “Give It Up,” and then arguably their greatest pop song, 2002’s “Like A Movie.” As the night went on, the moshing and crowd-surfing picked up, appropriately peaking with the final song, the feisty, angst-ridden “Just Rock and Roll.” Perhaps the night’s only downer was the shocking omission of another Midtown standard, “Let Go,” from the set list.
Cobra Starship revealed last month that they’re working on new material, so it’s likely this weekend’s stop at Skate and Surf Festival will be the last the world sees of Midtown, at least for now. But for the several hundred twenty-somethings who sold out the show almost instantly (and the many more ticket-less onlookers who watched from the outside in the Knitting Factory’s bar), it was reason to let go and rock out to simpler times, before full-time jobs and snakes on planes.
Here’s the set list from last night’s show:
Give It Up
Like A Movie
Is It Me? Is It True?
You Should Know
Help Me Sleep
Nothing Is Ever As It Seems
Get It Together
Knew It Along
Hey Baby, Don’t You Know That We’re All Whores
No Place Feels Like Home
Empty Like the Ocean
Waiting For the News
Become What You Hate
Just Rock and Roll