On the Verge: The So So Glos

Maggie Ambrose, So So Glos

Brooklyn punk rock band of brothers, The So So Glos, brought a lot to their WERS studio performance. Their instruments, their friendliness, their attitude, their tattered leather jackets and doc martens, their distinct punk rock odor, but most importantly, their songs. The typically rowdy party animals put their musical suits and ties on and performed more subtle, acoustic versions of their songs. The set consisted of formally scrappy punk songs that were reworked on the spot, perhaps inspired by the dim studio lights or meandering rain clouds, but probably just because playing piano seemed fun at the time.

The dudes (it seems most fitting to call them dudes) opened their set with “Diss Town,” a possum of a song taken to the groomers to be dressed as Maltese. With pretty, melodic piano flourishes and hesitant drums, the song barely resembled its original form. An acoustic rhythm guitar hesitantly chugged away in the background under restrained, gravely, punk vocals. The bleak, dystopic lyrics had a new found depth and significance when played in such a reserved manner. Although their fun and lively disposition may lead you to think otherwise, The So So Glos are pretty smart and thoughtful guys with a lot of important things to say.

Lifetime Brooklynites and Mets fans, disappointment is nothing unfamiliar to The So So Glos. “Its rough, it sucks. We grew up Mets.” Said Ryan Levine. We used to go to Mets games all the time. As kids me and [brother and band mate] Alex were so small we fit on the same seat. We were raised on the Mets, we were raised rooting for the underdog. The Mets are a symbol for rooting for the underdog. Yankees fans, I can’t f****** stand them. We root for the losing team and hope they win, when they win its way sweeter.” The So So Glos’ recent success and buzz after 5 years of playing together feels a lot like the Mets winning against the Yankees. “It’s about fucking time,” said Ryan about their recent recognition. “Its been a steady stream of the same shit for me for the last 5 years,” said Matt Elkin. The band helps operate a DIY venue in Brooklyn, appropriately named Shea Stadium. Unlike their show at Great Scott, Shea Stadium is all-ages, an attribute Ryan and the band take pride in. “When you have an all-ages venue you have to pay more for insurance and venues can’t afford that,” said Ryan. “Rock and Roll is for the kids. If I couldn’t go to shows as a kid I would’ve been fucking pissed.”

The band followed up with minimal version of “Xanax” from their new album Blowout, which turned out to be a surprisingly emotionally draining performance. The song consisted of mainly piano and vocals, a sort of punk rock ballad about being dumbed down by prescription medication. A subtle acoustic guitar tiptoed in the background, wanting to join in but too scared to interrupt the intimacy of the piano and vocals. The song slowly built in intensity, wanting to reach a climax, but never quite exploding. There was a certain frustration that came with the song wanting to reach this certain level of intensity, but being unable to achieve it, like a sort of sonic Xanax. The song played in this way mirrored the lyrical content in a thought provoking way that the high-energy studio version doesn’t quite manage. The performance was a great opportunity to see a band that has such a distinct image break away and show a side of them that makes you reconsider them and all their work. Although this performance was unexpected to say the least, it was nothing short of incredible.

By Kevin O’Brien
Photo by Maggie Ambrose

If you liked this, check out:
On the Verge: Gabriel Mintz
Hurray for the Riff Raff Live In Studio

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