I’ve definitely written my fair share about pop punk on the site before, but I don’t think I’ve ever delved much into the neon wave of the late ’00s (mainly because I don’t much care for it, and it was the culmination of the genere’s slow decline). Here, for the uninitiated, is my very brief (and, of course, very incomplete) history of how pop punk progressed: You could argue that its origins started with the advent of the poppier side of the original wave of punk bands, like Buzzcocks and The Jam, in the ’70s. The inarguable origins of the genere that more or less still exists today came in the form of bands like Bad Religion, The Vandals, and Descendants (all out of southern California) in the ’80s. 1994 is largely considered the second most important year for punk rock (next to 1977) and saw bands like Green Day and The Offspring crossover to the mainstream market (and slightly smaller bands like NoFX and Rancid find huge niche market success). The pop punk of the ’80s and early ’90s inspired a huge crop of new bands, and rabid interest in the genere saw even larger scale success at the end of the decade and into the ’00s in the from of bands like Blink-182, Jimmy Eat World, and New Found Flory. As pop punk essentially knocked alt rock off the radar in the ’00s, bands like Yellowcard, Good Charlotte, and Bowling for Soup bridged the gap to the mid-’00s pop punk explosion of bands like Fall Out Boy, Paramore, and Panic! at the Disco.
As is always the case for popular trends in music, with each new crop of pop punk bands the sound and look of the genre evolved and its various movements became more fragmented (breaking into emo, powerpop, skapunk, screamo, subsets of hardcore, etc). Between the fragmentation, the over-saturation, and the diminishing returns effect (the loss of message and relevance that is an almost inevitable byproduct of a copy of a copy of a copy), the scene of the late ’00s had largely lost its voice and footing. The “neon wave” (named for a couple year period where a new crop of bands and fans all become briefly obsessed with over-the-top neon apparel) was something of pop punk’s last-ditch effort for radio relevance (now the genere has largely refreshed itself with smaller, old school bands with more realistic career aims). Because the neon wave was born into a genere in decline, many of the bands associated with it have already called it day.
Every Avenue is a band that popped up during the neon wave (and definitely participated in some of the questionable design choices that gave it its name), but I always feel like I’m selling them short by lumping them in with it. Their musicianship is generally of a much higher caliber than many of the younger, genere-aping bands. Their emotional breadth feels sincere, not artificial. Unfortunately, with three records and three EPs under their belts, the band has reached some mild success but never anything close to the genere in its heyday (or close to what such talented pop writers as themselves deserve) and ultimately have decided to call it quits. Though they’re not ruling out the possibility of ever again reuniting, this tour is being billed as their farewell. So tonight could very likely be the last chance to see the band in Nashville ever. They’re a really talented, energetic, and largely underrated band, so if you have even the slightest interest in them I urge you to check out the show! Several of the members actually live in Nashville, though EA barely seems to be a blip on the local music radar (as is often the case with pop punk).
Supporting the show, Set It Off could possibly be classified as post-neon wave. They play an interesting, lush, orchestral hybrid of pop punk (that honestly bears more resemblance to the pop side of the genere- the punk side has mostly split back into underground bands).
Hailing from my homestate of Virginia, Conditions definitely have roots in pop punk as well but extend their sound more into the straight up rock and roll and alternative rock territory. They also have an impressive portfolio, touring with the likes of Paramore, and they’re one of the realest bands in the scene.
Opening the show, Car Party are a young band with an incredible knack for crafting impossibly poppy, hook-laden tracks with intense emotional weight. They’re definitely a band to keep an eye on!
Every Avenue, Set It Off, Conditions, and Car Party perform tonight at Rocketown. The show is at 6:30PM (doors at 6) and tickets are still available here. As with all Rocketown events, the show is all ages.