MIDTOWN SAVES: THE RETURN OF NEW JERSEY SCENE PIONEERS EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS
Kayla Moreno ⋅ May 26, 2023
In another lifetime, Gabe Saporta said, “The scene is dead.” However, this year, Saporta insinuates that a new perspective has infiltrated his psyche. He’s optimistic, energetic, and honestly, at his prime. The path the Midtown frontman has walked all these years culminated in an exciting potential future for the band as a group and as individuals.
The return of Midtown has sparked a new generation of intrigue ready and willing to deep-dive into the scene’s colorful history, which Midtown largely catalyzed. A comeback record of covers makes sense in this context because it encourages the band’s entire audience to dip their toes into the songs that essentially created the band they love so dearly.
Opening the record with "Know It All" by Lagwagon immediately tells the listener about Midtown’s intentions with the ep. As Saporta asserts, “did you ever really listen to that song?” we’re led to truly hear instead of superficially listen to what the record is all about. Lovingly titled, We’re Too Old To Write New Songs, So Here’s Some Old Songs We Didn’t Write, this passion-infused project suggests that Midtown has a lot of life ahead of them. Each song is curated with intention, providing a well-rounded body of work while reiterating the band’s desire to have fun together again.
Each instrumentalist is granted the opportunity to shine, showcasing the necessity for artists to step back for a little while before creating something truly amazing. Rob Hitt is a drummer worth watching; his enthusiastic performance throughout "Pump It Up" specifically does a great job of familiarizing the audience with his stylistic choices. The same could be said for guitarists Heath Saraceno and Tyler Renn, who seemingly have completely different playing styles as individuals that come together seamlessly on a record or at a live show. As for Saporta’s bass playing, I believe that he is one of the scene’s most underrated performers, in general. You can hear him most clearly in the "Pump It Up" mix, but the subtleties throughout covers like "Safely" are arguably more impressive.
It’s imperative that I use a little anecdotal evidence to validate the importance of Midtown’s comeback.
I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Midtown twice–which, at just 26.5(ish), is a major feat. A lot of Midtown’s performances happened “before my time,” and across the country from my California home. I’ve also had the pleasure of connecting with Midtown as individuals. Most people would advise to not meet your heroes, but Midtown proves to be the exception to the rule.
Back in October, I attended Gabe’s birthday party in Hollywood after I saw him open for one of my all-time favorite bands, My Chemical Romance. I’d seen them in a more intimate performance just days prior at Garden Amphitheater in Garden Grove, CA. His party was one of those “pinch me” moments where I couldn’t quite fathom what was happening in real-time. He asked me a question that caught me so off-guard in the moment that it took me until late May of the following year to have a good answer for him:
“Which of the two performances that you saw did you like the best?”
I gave him a very ADHD answer at the time, suggesting that MCR had just played a song they’d never played before right in front of my eyes from the spot I’d snagged at the barrier.
However, my real answer will always be that their show in Garden Grove was the show. Whether you are a new or old fan of Midtown, that was the show to be at.
Those of us at Garden Amp were fortunate enough to see Midtown for who they are. Gabe’s son made a ton of guest appearances on stage, diving into the crowd at his heart’s desire, and roasting his dad when given the microphone. At one point during the set, I saw a complete stranger connect with Gabe saying she saw Midtown play for the first time 20 years ago, insinuating that the band’s work helped her through difficult times and she couldn’t believe she was telling him that in 2022. It is those moments that make a band special. Music is the cornerstone of human connection.
When bands make a huge comeback, it’s a roll of the dice. Midtown didn’t come back out of financial necessity or by mass peer pressure. Instead, they made a record because they wanted to. They had the desire to make art with their friends, just like they did when I was too little to go to one of their shows. This even extends to the ep’s cover art, hand drawn by Gabe’s label (TAG Music) social media manager, Saul Moreno.
They suggest that they’re too old to write their own songs, but I disagree.
I believe that Midtown still has a lot to say, and we should all really hear them out.
Keep up with Midtown at https://shop.midtownrock.com
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