The more I think about it, it must be easier to play to an audience of 20,000 than to an audience of 20. Not that I think that the Brooklyn-based So So Glos are deserving of playing to that small of a crowd, but those were the very real circumstances in which the band found itself Tuesday night at the Caledonia Lounge. The real test of a band is if it plays with the same amount of intensity no matter the size of the crowd. At least in this case, So So Glos passed.
We typically think of anger and resentment as primary affects of punk. And to an extent, there is some of that inherent in the So So Glos; the subtle and often campy ways in which the band makes fun of police is a prime example. But anger and resentment don’t define the So So Glos. There’s also joy. What else can explain the band members’ ear-to-ear grins throughout an hourlong set with such a small crowd in attendance?
The So So Glos’ DIY ethic is pure, and even if three-and-a-half-minute songs aren’t your thing, it is hard not to root for them. Within the first few songs, there was a shoutout to Shea Stadium, the allages Brooklyn venue that the band helps to run when it’s not on tour. (There is something arrestingly innocent about a band imploring 20 people to support a scene 1000 miles away.)
When lead vocalist and bassist Alex Levine joked, “We could play anything right now!” it seemed like a perfect opportunity to do something so outrageous that it would become part of Athens lore for the next few months. After all, the band covered “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” with Titus Andronicus the last time they were in town. That show from this past May was memorable for other reasons, but the song seemed awfully fitting. Unfortunately, nothing of the sort ever materialized last night.
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