When The Velvet Teen play Emo’s sandwiched in between The A-Sides and Say Hi to Your Mom, it feels appropriately middling – the middle of the evening, the muddling of my expectations and a middling representation of a particular teen-driven genre I’m still trying to fathom.
What makes this hard is that one of my close friends I respect musically happens to be very ecstatic about the show. It’s easy to see the cuteness factor playing into it. Lead singer Judah Nagler’s soft face and awkward guitar stance emits sexy to the 10 or 12 petite pixie girls in the front with their Urban Outfitter tote bags. It isn’t hard to pigeon hole the trio, but they bring it on themselves.
The guys aren’t talentless by any means; drummer Casey Dietz (formally of The Americas) stays tightly focused and Judah’s voice is distinctive. On The Velvet Teen’s first full length album, Chris Walla from Death Cab for Cutie collaborated. When I find this out it all makes sense. The impish little girls, the angsty lyrics. I’m controlling myself at this point, muttering in my head, “How much longer will this Death Postal Confessional reign of terror go on unabated? What’s next?”
In 2006, the band went on tour with Minus the Bear. That may have been a certain apogee of their credibility, compared to the Say Hi to Your Mom tour this year. There is probably a pretty notable difference between fans of those two bands. And in this fickle imp-driven Urban-clad industry, the sparse crowds at Emo’s suggest that Say Hi to your Mom has lost steam in the past year.
The band might have a new angle: a handful of young men also nestle close to the stage gawking at Judah and his Levis. That may count for something. My friend assures me the Velvet Teens are an acquired taste, but I can’t help but wonder whether their flavor fades the farther you get from high school.