I went through a lot of music genre phases in high school, which I’m sure is nothing unusual. The first concert I ever went to was a Red Hot Chili Peppers show, and the very next one I chose was The Mars Volta, about as polar opposite as you can get while playing the same instruments. Yet of the hundreds of bands I obsessed over and quickly discarded, there were a few that remained consistent mainstays on my Ipod. American Football was one of those bands.
So when the band announced a reunion tour on April 21st, I caught a whole big wave of nostalgia. I was nine years old when the band first broke up in 2000, so I never got to see one of my favorite bands perform live. You can bet I’ll be there when they perform at Champaign’s annual Pygmalion Festival on September 28.
Like so many high schoolers’ favorite bands, American Football can technically be described as emo music. And the subject matter is relatively standard emo fare, I suppose. But there’s a reason frontman Mike Kinsella is one of the busiest men in music (his most famous project is Owen, but he is also infolved in Their/They’re/There, Joan of Arc, Cap’n Jazz, and The One Up Downstairs in varying capacities), the dude has talent – both as a songwriter and musician. As someone who’s always been an avid reader, any songwriter who references J.D. Salinger’s For Esme With Love and Squalor (in American Football’s “Letters and Packages”)- as well as Raymond Carver, Milan Kundera, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez (all in his current project Owen)- is someone I’m interested in. And unlike most “emo” bands, the vocals often take a back seat to the varied and excellent instrumentation. The band has a unique sound, most similar to Minus The Bear – the band doesn’t sound angst ridden or sappy, they sound introspective, somber, and really, really talented. Kinsella, both because of his lyrics and the tone of his voice, doesn’t sound whiny, the emotion conveyed in his songs sounds sincere and well thought out.
American Football has so far only announced two shows, one at Pygmalion and one at Webster Hall in New York, on October 11. More shows are expected to be announced, but I’ve already got my Pygmalion ticket, where they’ll join CHVRCHES, Panda Bear, Real Estate, and Sun Kil Moon as must-see acts.