If you haven’t heard of the Matches, here’s your invitation. The pop-punk band based out of Oakland, CA has been a favorite of mine for many years. First bursting on the scene in 1997, they put out a mere three albums (four if you count a compilation of demos released shortly after their breakup) from 2004-2008. After five long years of waiting, The Matches surprised their die-hard fans by announcing a reunion tour coinciding with the ten year anniversary of their first, and best album, E. Von Dahl Killed the Locals. One by one, shows were announced in California, Chicago, and New York. New York City being the closest destination, I had to be there.
So Saturday night that is exactly what I did. I traveled to New York City’s Gramercy Theatre to catch the first show of a two night stand at the venue. The theatre’s capacity is easily less than 500 and it was packed, being that it was a sold out show. Happy Body Slow Brain and Mainland, both originally based out of California, but currently New York residents warmed the crowd up until the lights went down close to ten o’clock, prompting red and yellow balloons to fly through the air in a celebratory fashion. The band exploded into the lead off track, the powerful Dog-Eared Page, setting the tone for the rest of the night. The crowd fed off that energy, immediately crashing the stage and forming an aggressive mosh pit. Though it has been five years since this band played together, the chemistry appeared to still exist between them. The onstage antics and banter was synonymous with that of their earlier days. Lead singer, Shawn Harris, was in the crowd on multiple occasions, while guitarist Jon Devoto, who put on a white afro wig to commemorate his former hairdo, was as energetic as ever, bouncing all over the stage. A poignant moment of the show came with Harris introducing what could very well be considered their anthem, More Than Local Boys, for which he showed his gratitude to the fans for their support throughout the years and making them exactly what the title suggests.
The Matches roared through their debut album in tremendous fashion closing with a particularly strong Sick Little Suicide and the acoustic Scratched Out. The encore that followed was an incredible seven songs, mostly from the bands second album Decomposer. The band was influenced by an unorthodox March Madness type bracket of the best Matches songs, which ultimately led to them playing Didi (My Doe Pt. 2). They also obliged to a group of guys chanting for What Katie Said, followed by an intense Papercut Skin After leaving the stage again, the band came back out to chants of their very first song, Superman, included as a bonus track on the first album. As confetti showered the crowd, Harris dove into the audience capping off one hell of a night.
Seeing The Matches, I’m sure brought out a lot of nostalgia for many fans, including me. Their young adult anthems have definitely held up through the years, as E. Von Dahl Killed the Locals is still one of my favorite albums. I definitely recommend checking this band out and hoping they reunite again sooner than later.
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