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Midtown rocks at Brooklyn's Knitting Factory

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After a nine-year hiatus, New Jersey pop punk legends Midtown returned to action with a secret show on May 14 at Brooklyn's Knitting Factory. Performing under the name "Merman," the former Drive Thru Records powerhouse brought down the house with a lively 100-minute set that featured catchy gems from their entire discography, including 2000's anthemic Save the World, Lose the Girl, and the 2002 classic Living Well is the Best Revenge.

Midtown, which released three critically-acclaimed full-length studio albums and three extended plays before disbanding in 2005, is set to play two shows this weekend at the 2014 Skate and Surf Festival in Asbury Park, N.J., so their Knitting Factory concert provided the perfect opportunity to wipe off some of the stage rust that accumulated from not performing in close to a decade. Despite the lengthy absence, it was almost as if Midtown had never left.

Midtown didn't take much time explaining the reasons for their hiatus and subsequent comeback, opting to use their set time to give the crowd what they came for: sing-a-long pop punk. Most Midtown fans know by now that the group disbanded when lead vocalist and bassist Gabe Saporta formed Cobra Starship, along with guitarist Heath Saraceno leaving the band to join Senses Fail. Guitarist Tyler Rann got a full-time job and drummer Rob Hitt also pursued other endeavors.

For one week at least, none of that mattered. All that mattered was that the four men were back on stage together, kicking it back to the glory days of 2002-era pop punk. After opening the set with material from Save the World, Lose the Girl, such as "Frayed Ends" and "No Place Feels Like Home," Midtown then dipped into Living Well is the Best Revenge sing-a-longs like "Become What You Hate" and "Like A Movie."

From there, the band moved into familiar territory from their Forget What You Know album. "Give It Up" drew a huge crowd response, and "Is It Me? Is It True?" was another tune that brought the house down. Midtown closed with an encore that featured "Just Rock and Roll," off their Drive-Thru Records debut album. For fans that missed the Brooklyn show, tickets are still available for this weekend's Skate and Surf Festival in Asbury Park, N.J.

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