Deli Magazine


OTP -- Record Release at Middle East Up 9/9/2011
- by Andrew Jeromski

Local folk-punk act OTP headlined the Middle East upstairs last Friday night to celebrate the release of their new record, Where/We’re/Found, and regaled the surprisingly visceral crowd with some shiny new material. The album features 100 different album covers which were all colored in by mentally challenged adults, and was mixed and recorded by Luke Sullivan of Left Hand Does. The band shared the bill with Jay Knox Sherman, City of Squares, Adam and the Waxmen and Trebek, playing to a sizable crowd that seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves. While it’s pure folly to try and deduce who came to see who, one thing that I can state with absolute certainty, is that nobody left early.

OTP is led by frontman Garrity Collins on lead vocals and guitar, Lincoln Smith on bass and Kevin Kupillas on drums. They’ve been around for a few years now, forming in 2007, and previously concocted several releases possessing a pleasant mix of intelligent, highly-personal lyrics and infectious, simple melodies tinged with a razor’s edge of punk aggression.

Many a band who fall under the dreaded folk-punk banner can hardly play their instruments—either through lack of any discernible musical ability or crippling chemical dependency. OTP—which may or may not actually stand for “off the porch”—displayed symptoms of neither aforementioned malady. Quite to the contrary. They showed a complete control over the chosen weaponry of their trade.

Frontmen in the folk-punk genre often fall into the “yells really loud and looks somewhat badass” category, but Collins comes across as a profoundly honest singer and the songs strike me as more “from the heart” than the self-indulgent fare that is often on the menu within the genre.

Smith and Kupillas contribute backing vocals and harmonies and do so admirably, while doing their part to help produce the band’s sound, which can get quite heavy, at times, for a three-piece. For me, however, the sound was at its best when Collins was using his amplified acoustic guitar rather than his standard electric. It just seemed to fit.

If ever there was a version of punk for adults, and people who, at least, occasionally bathe, OTP embodies it. The crowd looked about as likely to start a riot as the cast of Golden Girls, there wasn’t the slightest whiff of politics in the air and the most overtly “punk” thing that happened all night was Collins breaking a string during the opening number. That being said, the atmosphere matched the music perfectly. OTP, rather than being the soundtrack to malicious destruction of public property, seem like the band you put on when it’s time to turn all that aggression inwards and hit the bottle.

While the band successfully avoids the pitfalls of its genre, it also shares much in common with the finer practitioners of it. The poetic storytelling of Shane MacGowan and The Pogues, the semi-romantic themes of Billy Bragg and the frantic desperation of Tim Barry’s Rivanna Junction.

Make no mistake, OTP is legit. Far from being the typical standard-bearer for the folk-punk genre that I feared, the band is comprised of actual musicians making actual music, and making it the right way.

As long as bands like OTP are still out there, I have no problem admitting that I have, perhaps, been a bit hasty in writing off folk-punk as an anachronistic and increasingly irrelevant genre, as, judging from the band’s show at the Middle East, there is still much
work of substance and merit to be had within.

Being proved wrong has never been so gratifying.