at UNF Arena
Since 1997, Oakland, California, natives The Matches have been captivating audiences everywhere. Without the help of a major label, these young punk rockers had no choice but to make the world their oyster by developing unique tactics to gain the appreciation of listeners.
Disappointed by the ineffectual flyer-ing of their musical peers, The Matches (then The Locals) chose to enter a new, risky realm of advertisement. Using their own grassroots marketing approach, known as "commotion promotion," the boys garnered unprecedented support from unsuspecting fans. Under "commo promo," the boys performed shows wherever people happened to be, a method that has proved beneficial in the long run. "We would play acoustic sets, guerilla style," says Matches tour manager and drummer Matt Wheland. "I'd pass out the flyers [while the band was playing]. That way, there was a better chance of people remembering who we were. It was a really effective way to get our name out."
Obviously. Once under-the-radar newcomers, The Matches are now touring with the likes of Jacksonville superstars Yellowcard and receiving lots of mainstream press attention in popular publications, namely the musician's Holy Grail, Rolling Stone. They've also re-released their debut album, "E. Von Dahl Killed the Locals," on Epitaph Records, and are experiencing greater notoriety than ever before.
It's a fate that not only fits these twentysomethings- it closely mirrors the path The Matches set out for themselves since day one. "The reason we're doing this is to be the biggest band in the world," says Wheland. "We want to be the next U2. We want to make good records and play for a large live audience. But we want to do it our way, and build it from the bottom up."
Such dedication hinges on The Matches' punk rock roots. Just don't call them pop-punk. Despite numerous references to this cringe-inducing genre in many album reviews, The Matches would rather be compared to fun-loving but political punks, Green Day and Rancid. "If we have to label our music, call it alternative post-punk," says Wheland. "Pop-punk seems like an oxymoron to me anyway."
Though he's probably not the first to point this out, it's a keen observation for a band dodging the bubblegum label like a bullet. Not many sticky-sweet pop-punkers would cite chameleon Joe Jackson or the innovative Elvis Costello as primary influences, like Wheland does.
Ultimately, all unfair judgments aside, this in-your-face brigade just wants to reach as many fans as possible. With 250 live shows this year alone, The Matches are well on their way to reaching the status they so desperately crave.
"Onstage we're energetic people," says Wheland. "When people come to see us, we want them to see that. We want them to walk away talking about us. We want kids to spread the word."
With that, The Matches are likely to finish the grassroots movement they started all those years ago. And perhaps, they're that much closer to dethroning the reigning King of Rock 'N' Roll- Mr. Bono himself.
By Amy Taylor
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