It was when I found myself staring at a nearby TV at Super 88 in Allston that I remembered a pretty reasonable realization: American television is at a creative low. Every moment I think it’s hit a nadir and then Wipeout gets an hour of airtime on ABC. It makes me pine a little for the programmes of the UK, specifically Channel 4’s Peep Show.
No, Peep Show does not have anything to do with porn. Or peeps for that matter. Instead, it concerns the daily mundane lives of Mark and Jeremy, two college buddies sharing a flat and London. The show’s name comes from the ingenious use of camera angles; the program only makes use of first-person perspective shots (and you thought Cloverfield was testing out new ground in film-making) so that it’s as if you are “peeping” in on someone’s personal life. The show – which recently aired its fifth season – makes excellent use of inner-monologues, dry wit, and unscrupulous/in-your-face social commentary in order to give a kick to modern sitcom styles. Its “humour” is as much about the truth according to the individuals as it is about the situations the characters find themselves to be in.
In the world of emo, no act is as provocative in truth telling and makes use of humor in order to convey a sense of sincerity as Kansas City, Missouri’s Reggie And The Full Effect. Reggie boils down to one dude – James Dewees. Dewees’ best-known musical project outside of Reggie was his role as the guy behind the keyboards in one of the names that pushed emo into the limelight – The Get Up Kids. It was during his time as a Get Up Kid that Dewees began to craft some songs that would become the first by Reggie And The Full Effect (later packaged in Greatest Hits ’84 – ’87). Packed with pop-paunch, abrasive blasts of dissonant guitar, 2nd wave emo’s caustic dynamic change-ups, and an introspective, wry sense of humor, Reggie And The Full Effect became the band for emo fans who could stand to laugh at themselves and those awful stereotypes.
2005’s Songs Not To Get Married To is perhaps Reggie’s best album. Whereas the earlier Reggie material was unabashedly filled to the brim with sincere and humorous takes on the stereotypical subjects in the emo cannon (namely, love), Songs Not To Get Married To took that combination of humor and truth to a self-deprecating peak. Inspired by the breakdown of Dewees marriage, the album puts all of Dewees’ frustrations and complaints with life and love up front, and just by the title, it’s clear that Reggie has some laughter left in the languished affairs of divorce. And with songs such as “Get Well Soon” and “Take Me Home, Please,” Dewees found his ultimate pop performance, filled with the kind of synth-based production the major labels could kill for.
Flash forward to today, and the music is about to stop for Reggie And The Full Effect. Noticeably darker from just a slight listen, Last Stop, Crappy Town was released near the end of June. And Reggie is about to embark on their last tour. Be sure to catch this if you can, although knowing Dewees’ up-front sense of humor, who knows if this really is the end for Reggie.
Peep Show – Series 1, Episode 1, Part 1:
…And The Two Best Reggie Videos…
“Congratulations Smack and Katie”: