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All Good Things

After ten years, even an emo band can become an institution.

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Emo fans may have heavy hearts as the Get Up Kids play their final, sold-out shows this weekend in Lawrence and Kansas City, but the band hasn't shed any genre-appropriate tears during a farewell tour that's been one of its most enjoyable.

"We get to go play these big shows and just play and have fun, which should be the whole idea in the first place," cheery-sounding bassist Robert Pope says from his Lawrence home.

His band announced its impending dissolution at www.thegetupkids.com back in March. The bulletin began: "Say goodnight, but mean goodbye," quoting a lyric from one of the Kids' songs but giving no specific reason for the long-rumored breakup. A short farewell tour was declared soon after, ending in the band's home territory.

This time around, Pope says, there is no dreaded "business side" to the tour, which means the Kids' roadshow isn't about pushing a single or its accompanying album, an exhausting pattern that contributed to the band's demise. There are, however, links on the band's Web site to some snappy new T-shirt designs commemorating the end of an era.

"This is kind of a celebration of us, basically," Pope says.

Although they never made it to MTV's Total Request Live like Vagrant Records label mates Dashboard Confessional, the kids from Kansas fared commendably in the first real band any of them were part of. In a decade, they put out four full-length albums plus a live disc, two EPs, a B-sides set and a handful of 7-inch releases, selling about half a million records in all.

"We had a pretty good run," Pope says.

Ever angsty, the band's discography includes almost 100 songs that flow through raw pop-punk into melodic indie rock, always with an emphasis on lead vocalist Matthew Pryor's heart-rending lyrics.

The group got together in 1995, when Pope and guitarist and vocalist Jim Suptic were seniors at Olathe South High School. The band also includes Pope's brother, Ryan, on drums, and keyboardist James Dewees. Because they are no longer teenagers (but mostly because, along with "The Kids Are All Right," it makes for a cute headline), it's tempting to chalk up the Kids' break to the fact that they've simply grown up.

But the five 20-somethings aren't splitting because they're too old for rock and roll.

The only Kid who may be all rocked out is Pryor, who, Pope says, wants to get off the road in the name of good parenting. The decision shouldn't come as a shock to anyone who listened to the Kids' 2002 release, On a Wire, on which Pryor took to task an absent father figure.

"The thing is, Matt has two kids," Pope says. "He doesn't want to tour. He doesn't want to do the band full time, really pursue it. Some of us would rather disband than carry on playing in a part-time band."

Not if that part-time band is the Get Up Kids, anyway -- the Kids have been constantly busy with side projects for years.

"That's probably why we're breaking up," Pope said with a half-serious chuckle. "After a couple of weeks, the side projects won't be side projects anymore."

Pryor has the New Amsterdams, a grainier, acoustic spin-off at times indistinguishable from the Kids. Suptic has the recently formed Blackpool Lights, and Dewees leads Reggie and the Full Effect. Both Pope brothers play in Koufax.

Robert Pope also has another band, White Whale, which he says is about to record its debut. "It sounds nothing like the Get Up Kids at all," he says. "A brand-new band. We can do essentially whatever we want."

So maybe, in a way, the Kids have grown up by outgrowing.

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