Review: Christie Front Drive Denver reunion at the Larimer Lounge, 8/28/11

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Christie Front Drive, the band that embodied the best of what emo was about and could be, last played a show on September 1, 2007 at the Marquis after a ten year hiatus. Fortunately it was only about a four year gap for this performance, during which the band dug deep into its catalog and played tunes like "Saturday," "Fin," "November," "Seven Day Candle," "Field," "4010," "Turn," "Radio" and "Long Out."

Long before Christie Front Drive took stage, people from all around showed up to catch this band that clearly meant so much to them at a critical point in their lives. Some of those people brought their kids out to see the band, while others like John Bueno of Pueblo's America N Mourning and artist for the independent comic book Fat With Glasses, simply marveled at the prospect of seeing the group live, saying that he never thought he'd get to see Christie Front Drive perform.

Live, the band sounded like it had drawn some inspiration for the more melodic end of Hüsker Dü and the Replacements, without any of the bravado. In essence, Christie Front Drive is the rare rock band with roots in punk that could energize you while also soothing your bruised psyche with words that seemed to immediately articulate complicated emotions with a powerful and poetic simplicity.

Over the course of its set, Christie Front Drive took us on a personal, emotional journey, playing its songs with an honesty of emotional expression that made the music seem so much more compelling and real than the fraudulent and saccharine "alternative" rock being pedaled in the mid to late '90s. Even now. If "emo" became a buzz word for overwrought, insipid melodic punk nearly a decade ago, Christie Front Drive's performance was a stirring reminder that such music once had its roots in a vital place.

At one point during the set, someone in the audience asked the band to play "Summer of '69," and frontman Eric Richter said that they had played it once and it made everyone leave the room. Jason Begin added that he heard a reggae version of the song on the radio the night prior. Probably on KGNU or1190. Needless to say, the guys didn't indulge that request.

Earlier in the evening, we caught the Nervous, who had split a time slot with 25 Rifles. A four-piece playing straight ahead punk rock, the Nervous was very reminiscent of the Avengers and some of the later groups out of the early 924 Gilman St. scene. But since when was that a bad thing when most non-pop punk, punk rock anymore sounds like it was inspired by some version of The Ramones, a hardcore band of old or some crossover sort of thing.

The fact that this band could play melodic punk rock with a bit of an edge was pretty refreshing. Singer Jen-X was a commanding frontwoman and the whole time the band didn't seem like a pantomime of punk rock but the genuine article, with songs that didn't all just blend together, played at breakneck speed with an overly aggressive drive. Punk's not dead, so long as bands like this taking a chance on sounding good and writing sharp songs are around.

There was something weighty about the presence of Glass Hits. Sonically, the spiky, angular, noisy guitar sounds and thick rhythms revealed perhaps the influence of Drive Like Jehu, Angel Hair and The Jesus Lizard, and this became especially apparent as Keith Curts' vocals took on an emotionally-charged, slightly demented character throughout the show.

At some point, Curts told us a story about his first encounter with Christie Front Drive in 1995, when the band had been recording a record in Boulder. He told us he hadn't known who they were but had been persistent in asking for a listen. When he and his old band -- who he didn't name to protect the innocent -- heard those songs, they felt like they simply weren't worthy.


Personal Bias: I've been a fan of Christie Front Drive since randomly finding the Shmowballs compilation in the local used bin at Cheapo Discs around ten years ago. Random Detail: The CFD merch was reasonably priced, even the vinyl. By the Way: Robert Green (of The Lavellas, younger brother of Roger Green) and his wife flew in from Spain where he now lives for the chance to see Christie Front Drive again.

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