music a little difficult to categorize. The OffRamps, aptly named, occupy some sort of musical middle ground. As their lead singer told me after their short and energetic set, "We're a little too accessible for the punk crowd, and a little too punk for the alt-rock crowd." Somewhere between the mainstream and the back roads, the OffRamps are most easily aligned with American underground bands like Hsker D and Dinosaur Jr. But whatever genre they call home, these three men lead singer and songwriter Jeremy Porter, bassist Jason Bowes, and drummer Mike Popovich deliver consistent rock 'n' roll.
The song I'd been singing "Hallmark Holiday" fits their genre ambiguity. When I took the time to listen to their last album, Hate It When You're Right, I found that what I had thought was upbeat breakup music had some disturbing strains of stalker pop: the lyrics mention having an ex-girlfriend's phone bugged and dressing up like a clown to scare her. I thought about Elaine's unfortunate encounter with a stalker clown on Seinfeld a comparison that fit not only the lyrics but also, at least slightly, the mood of the song. Although the words were mildly alarming (especially after all of my head-bobbing and singing along), the tongue-in-cheek use of the hook-dependent pop formula saved the song from creepiness, and the lyrics steered it clear of the self-deprecating emo ballads that are so popular with kids these days.