That Time Hawthorne Heights Brought Extreme Midwest VFW Energy To Jimmy Kimmel Live


For those in need of a good YouTube wormhole to disappear into, look no farther than this Alt Press of bands that “totally rocked” Jimmy Kimmel Live.

I stumbled onto this page because it’s Hawthorne Heights week here at the Reminiscent podcast, and our heroes from Dayton made the list.

This is a fun list of videos to get lost in, particularly because of the distinctly different energies coming from each performance, particularly between sets by The Starting Line, Brand New, and the boys from southwest Ohio (who aren’t members of Guided By Voices).

The Starting Line

It’s worth pointing this one out in comparison to the others, because these handsome bastards certainly appear to be enjoying their summer on the Warped Tour. There’s not a ton of angst on stage or in the crowd, just a good song that, if necessary, can double as a summer sing-a-long. You don’t have to suffer to make great art, and this probably came as welcome news to the dudes who weren’t in a hurry to come out with another record (three years separate “Say It Like You Mean It” and “Based On A True Story”).

Brand New

If Guillermo had never seen a push pit before, he certainly had by the time Jesse Lacey and company came to play “The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows.” Brand New appears excited to be on national TV, but they don’t seem to be having fun (not in the way The Starting Line appeared to be having fun when playing “Best Of Me”). They are dressed in business casual for the performance, as if there is a contractual agreement between the band and the crowd to make a certain type of noise while the concertgoers knock each other around within the guidelines of the social agreement that comes with attending an alt rock show in the 1980s or mid-2000s. An argument could be made that there’s some “let’s open this motherfucking pit” energy in this performance, at least in a 2003 context. This is very different than “extreme Midwest VFW energy” -- it’s easy to confuse the two.

Hawthorne Heights

Well, here it is:

This is such an unfairly catchy song. It begins as a singalong, with “Hey there…” etc. But don’t be fooled -- soon one of the guitarists will drop into a Spiderman stretch (one leg bent, the other remaining straight) while the distortion pedals do their thing. On first watch, it feels a ton like “open this motherfucking pit” energy. But no, it’s not quite that. Not quite. This is VFW energy if I’ve ever seen it. You paid $7 to watch this. Normally openers play 15 minutes -- you just watched an hour’s worth of two bands playing every song they practiced earlier that day in a basement somewhere. One had to borrow an amp from the other. (Which is fine!) And technically that’s more live music for your dollar, but that doesn’t necessarily cheer you up. You’re here because you know someone in the headlining band and you really want to seem them. Perhaps you know someone in one of the opening acts, and you’re deciding to stick around. You look around and the stance of choice is stable -- feet shoulder-width, arms crossed.

You’ve been to similar shows where a pit opens up, but that’s not always necessarily the best way to enjoy a rock show (not when it becomes more about the slam dancing and less about the music). Hell, the headlining band isn’t even doing a bad job -- but this is a VFW in Dayton, Ohio. Acoustics, almost certainly, were not taken into consideration during construction. Bless the DIY underground hardcore energy first perfected by the likes of Ian MacKaye in the 80s, but this is not a good version of that ideology. I can’t say for sure whether Guillero has ever been inside a VFW in the Midwest, but I can say for sure that he got a taste of it during that evening’s program.

Listen to our "Ohio is for Lovers" deep dive below and make sure to follow us on Twitter @_ReminiscentFM and on Instagram @reminiscentpodcast.