In 1998, New Jersey guitarist and vocalist Steve Poponi started a band called Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start—yes, that whole thing is their name (it’s a Konami cheat code). Emo’s second wave was in full swing, and its influence makes itself felt on UUDDLRLRBAS’s early recordings—they’re filled with eruptions of tension-shattering guitars and unrestrained vocals that overwhelm Poponi’s otherwise serene singing. As third-wave emo dragged the genre through the mud in the 2000s, Poponi guided his group through an evolution, slowly shedding the convulsive bursts in favor of mellower, more pop-centric songs that fit right into the melancholy indie-rock milieu of the mid-aughts.
UUDDLRLRBAS broke up after 2007’s Worst Band Name Ever, but they’ve regrouped for a couple shows, including one at Beat Kitchen on Saturday. The evening’s opening acts include Pet Symmetry, whose front man, Evan Weiss (also of Into It. Over It.), briefly played in UUDDLRLRBAS before moving to Chicago. Weiss performed on 2004’s The Internet EP, the source of today’s 12 O’Clock Track, “I’m Growing Out.” It’s a meditation on postadolescent lethargy, and UUDDLRLRBAS capture the gray feeling of inertia without succumbing to it themselves.