By Ziggy Merritt
It’s a matter of fact that some bands bring their absolute best to a live performance. Their efforts in the studio remain a fixed point in time, a snapshot of something polished to a mirror sheen. Without waxing too much with the poetics, the return of Jacksonville natives, Black Kids to not just Philly but to the world at large is a welcome return to form. Riding on the high of their sophomore album after a scant 8-year gap between their last release (2009’s digital-only EP, Cemetery Lips) the 5-piece fronted by the jaunty vocals of Reggie Youngblood made their debut at the Boot and Saddle alongside the transcontinental duo known as Surf Rock is Dead.
SRiD has so far fed the public with a steady stream of propulsive singles and EPs since 2014. Distortion heavy and able to coax out their own signature brand of pop from a host of other hazy jangle junkies, their set hit all the high points of a brief yet heavy-hitting catalog. Starting with what may be their most well-known track, “Never Be the Same” and following from there with cuts from their latest We Have No Friends EP including “As If” and “White Salsa,” not even technical difficulties arising from Joel Wittenberg’s bass could hope to mar the evening.
This set up Black Kids to hit the floor buoyed by that momentum. Starting with “Hit the Heartbrakes” and pulsing through their regular set that ended with “I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance with You” there came the steady realization that this is one of those select few bands that you must see live. The true test is ripping through their two full-lengths and having a sense that their presence, their pure energy informs so much of their performance. Whether that be Reggie dancing and swearing in their performance of the jazzy oddity that is “Obligatory Drugs” or the breakneck speed of the chorus on “Look At Me (When I Rock Wichoo)” there’s something almost undefinable lost in translation when digitized or pressed to vinyl. This is not to say their record do not hold a candle to their performance. Capturing bits and pieces of new wave, jazz, R&B, and pop punk, both Partie Traumatic, and Rookie gift the band a uniquely spirited sonic legacy. Also, they have their own branded coloring books at the merch table. You’re missing out.