Midtown / Pollyanna – Crossroads – Garwood, NJ – 8/10/22

In March of 2022, what some would say would be impossible happened. A favorite in the “scene”, Midtown, would be reuniting and playing not only one or two shows, but multiple shows. The outpouring of excitement from the fans was through the roof, and what was supposed to be a few shows turned into multiple shows across the country. The excitement of these shows is now rolling into 2023, to which we can hopefully expect even more Midtown in the New Year. Through interviews the reason for the reunion was because kids of some of the band members wanted to see their Dads perform live. Midtown was broken up before any of their kids could see them live, and before they get too old to play they decided to play some shows. Couple this with My Chemical Romance asking them to open for them on some of their arena shows and the stars couldn’t have aligned any better.

Midtown holds a special place in a lot of people’s hearts. Let it be their first show, first album to get them into this music, seeing them in basement shows in New Jersey, or the band everyone thought should be bigger than what they were, there is something special about Midtown. Regardless, Midtown was never forgotten by fans, and this reunion was a perfect surprise. Before their “official” shows back, in August Midtown would announce a sort of dress rehearsal show at a very intimate venue. The show at Crossroads sold out just as fast as their Starland Ballroom shows, and would be their first show back. For some, this was the type of show they remember seeing Midtown at, a small, packed, loud room. For others it would actually be their first time seeing Midtown ever and probably the best environment to witness them in.

When Midtown broke up, drummer Rob Hitt, was starting his own record label I Surrender Records. The label would go on to release a lot of great releases and continue to sign new bands to this day. One of those bands he would sign would be Pollyanna from New Jersey. In June they just released their latest album Slime which is raw, honest, and has great energy, something that’s been missing in newer bands. That energy is also conveyed through their live show for when Pollyanna started playing it connected with the crowd. From the song “SLUT” to “Relationship Anxiety”, people were nodding or moving and Pollyanna gave it their all flawlessly. For a young band, they even joked about being too young since they never seen Midtown before, I personal think Pollyanna has longevity. I don’t know what it is about New Jersey, but the talent that comes out of the state is unmatched from any other state. With their new album out expect more shows from Pollyanna and its highly suggested to see them live.

Midtown is a band that whenever I listen to them I can’t help but either sing along or air drum. There is something about their music that lifts my spirits and gets me excited no matter how old I get. This happens with a lot of bands, especially ones that didn’t get their due, like River City High, Goodwill, Stryder, and Side Walk Slam. While everyone was praising bands like Blink 182 and Good Charlotte, I was praising these bands. Nothing wrong with Blink 182, but bands like Midtown were different and it came across in their music. Even though I grew up in PA and Midtown was only one state over, I didn’t grow up seeing them every weekend in a basement somewhere in New Jersey. I wish I did, but I was like many others that I discovered Midtown through Drive Thru Records. Being young and getting an allowance from your parents every week didn’t help discover music fast enough. I relied on mostly compilation albums and dial up internet to look for music, but would have to wait to actually own the music. I don’t want to sound like an old man, but seriously, the way music is consumed now, younger kids have no idea how it was back then. Imagine saving money, going to a store, buying an album you know only one song to and taking a risk on hoping you like it. I can’t see people doing that again, even though I still do sometimes to try and get that crazy feeling back. Sometimes those albums become a bigger part of your life. Regardless, consuming music back then took time and effort, and I was all for it.

The only Midtown song I knew was “Just Rock and Roll” from a compilation, however Save The World, Lose The Girl wasn’t the first album I bought from Midtown. In fact that album was extremely hard to find that I had to order it from Drive-Thru Records webstore. The first album I bought was Living Well Is The Best Revenge at Best Buy for like $6.99 or something crazy low. Back then Best Buy would sell c.d.s at a low price compared to the $12.99 price for many reasons. This was mostly on rock bands because the label would trying to push “units” to break the bands and at low prices like that, the average person would think well I am only loosing seven dollars if I don’t like it. That wasn’t the case for me, I knew I would like the album and the price was just a perk. What I didn’t know is that that album would become one of my top favorite albums even to this day. My first job was at BJ’s Wholesale Club and I was the cart boy. I would get to work and listen to my discman all day and Living Well Is The Best Revenge was on repeat all the time. If you ask how did you fit a disc man in your pocket, my answer is JNCO, and if you ask didn’t it skip, it 100% did all the time, but I loved this album too much. The lyrics and melodies are just perfect and how this album didn’t push them into Blink 182 status I will never know.

Then came Forget What You Know, an album that took them into a different direction which I thought was perfect and I couldn’t wait to hear what would be next. However, it was short lived because shortly after that release, Midtown would disband. The only time I got to see Midtown live was at the now demolished Crocodile Rock Cafe in Allentown, PA on December 14, 2004 with Senses Fail headlining and Moneen opening I remember when Midtown came on the crowd went crazy and I remember thinking, Midtown has such a huge following, bigger than Senses Fail who was headlining, they are going to be around for forever. Yet, things happen and bands break up. Midtown would later do a reunion in 2014, but it was believed to be the final performance until now.

When Midtown came on stage there was nothing but smiles, laughter, and a heckler. The heckler throughout the night would be Gabe’s son who would just say they stink after each song. The show felt like it could last for hours because it just felt like a family gathering and not a concert. Even though Gabe admitted he was still rusty on certain songs and couldn’t remember the lyrics, he still went with it. It felt like we were watching them practice for how laid back the atmosphere was. For the most part, Midtown played through a decent amount of songs from all three albums. One album didn’t get that much more playthrough than another album, and my personal opinion, they could’ve played one album through and it still would’ve been worth it. Throughout the set each member would give a little background on songs or explain the meaning. Some songs they would flat out say they didn’t want to play, but they eventually would like “Let Go”. Others they haven’t played since they first started like “Another Boy” to which they had to figure out the key signature. They could’ve played the wrong chords for all everyone knew and it still would’ve been fun to hear. This was their first show back in eight years and everyone was just happy to see them on stage again, it didn’t matter how or what they played. Seeing Midtown back on stage was something I didn’t expect in 2022, and it was the best concert in 2022. Actually within the last five years it was my favorite concert. Midtown’s music holds a special spot in me, I am not sure what it is, but anytime I think about them I think what incredible songs and band. I was supposed to go to one of the Starland Ballroom shows in December, but had to move due to work and unfortunately couldn’t make it. However, I hope in 2023 there are some more Midtown shows and I hope I can attend another one. It is great to have Midtown back and it seems like these aren’t their final performances this time. It seems like they will be sticking around for awhile and I, along with every fan are extremely happy and grateful for that.

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