Head to the Bronco Bowl tonight if for no other reason than to witness the two endpoints of commercial pop-punk's current crop sharing one sweat-soaked, irrelevance-swathed stage. I'd say that's a fair way of sizing up the graying Green Day and the still-green Get Up Kids, two bands who've made a killing off three sugary chords and a dog-eared copy of Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret
. After all, Dookie
, Green Day's zippy major-label debut, came out in 1994, approximately three years before the young'uns in the Get Up Kids scored their high school diplomas, breaking down the door for bands of snotty (or at least knotty) young guys with boners--a door that swung shut last year with the release of Something to Write Home About
, the Get Up Kids' equally zippy sophomore album.Which isn't to say that pop-punk is dead, or dying, or even sick: Take a drive through Southern California with the windows down and breathe in the Sticky Tak residue from the backs of thousands of relatively fresh Offspring posters if you don't believe me. But it has reached an impasse, and it's threatening the viability (not just Carson Daly's favor, but the chance to actually sell a record or two) of the old guard. Blink-182, I think, are the gatekeepers of a new era of the form, one less about the clever pairing of sneaky little hooks and pretty genuine longing, and more about the clever pairing of tits and ass. Don't get me wrong: I think "All the Small Things" is way better and way tighter than anything on Warning
, Green Day's new one, but there's a post-modern smirk to it that simply wouldn't jibe with anything by the guys who wrote "When I Come Around," or the band who once straight-facedly lifted a Pee Wee Herman quote for a song title. You can hear it in the way Blink singer Tom Delonge stretches out "commiserating" all the way to chorus at the end of the first verse in "Small Things," or in the bonus banter (mostly PG-13 trash talk) tacked onto the end of the band's new live album. You'll probably never hear the Get Up Kids pass PG, and I get the sense that Green Day are now too busy complaining about upper-middle-class disconnect to actually joke about sex and stuff.
But maybe that's just history's way of repeating itself, something I should've learned from the Buzzcocks' "Orgasm Addict" 20-odd years ago. Then again, I'm not so sure: I don't doubt the boner, but do you really think Delonge knows what an orgasm is?