House Of Blues Boston
June 16th 2013
If there ever has been a band that perfectly embodies the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mantra, Rancid would have to be considered a strong contender for the title. The Bay Area legends have been playing their distinct brand of melodic punk rock for over 20 years, and they’ve built a huge fan base while doing it. When you put on a Rancid record, you know what to expect.
The same can be said for their live show: no matter where or when you see them, you can expect the band to go heavy on the hits, throw in a few deep cuts, and inspire a raging circle pit throughout the entire performance. The band returned to Boston in June for two shows at the House of Blues, just a year after having played a similar two night stand at the same venue. While the set list didn’t change much from the previous year and the band didn’t debut any new material, they still proved that $30 on a ticket to a Rancid show is one of the best investments you can make right now.
Crown of Thornz was the opening act, and although we missed their set, at least I can say I’m now aware of another band that may have as many spelling issues as I do. Next up was the Transplants, the “super group” made up of Rancid guitarist/vocalist Tim Armstrong, former Rancid and AFI roadie Rob Aston, and superhuman Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker. This band has always been a head-scratcher for me: are they a punk band? Are they rappers? Are they serious? They’ve been around since 1999 but have only put out two albums and have toured only a handful of times.
The group’s opening slot on this tour is in support of their recently released record “In A Warzone” – their first album since 2005’s “Haunted Cities” . The band had been on hiatus since cancelling a major headlining tour back in 2006, and apparently they’ve moved beyond the riff that had caused the long break.
Armstrong, Barker, And Ashton were joined on stage by a young-ish looking bassist and an even younger looking guitarist (think 8) who may have been Barker’s son. They opened with what was apparently the title track off their new record, and then went on to play for a full hour. A 60 minute opening slot for a band with only two albums and a lead singer who’s pulling double duty sounds like it might be a little strange, and it was.
Some of the songs the band played did receive a pretty big reaction from the crowd, including “Diamonds And Guns” (which apparently is their biggest hit), and the very catchy “Gangsters And Thugs”. Armstrong seemed to be conserving energy for the Rancid set by barely playing his guitar on most songs, and Ashton’s rapping left something to be desired. The drumming of Barker, on the other hand, was by far the highlight of the set.
Barker could drum circles around just about anyone without putting in much effort, but from where I was standing it looked like he was really going for it. If Barker, as one of today’s the most talented and well known drummers, had mailed it in while playing an opening slot in someone else’s side project, I don’t think anyone would have blamed him, so he deserves a lot of credit for making the set at least bearable on this night.
Rancid took the stage after the Transplants in front of the same “20th Anniversary” banner they used a year earlier and opened with a string of about seven of their best known songs. I’ve seen a band open with a hit or two, but it’s rare that anyone gets out of the gate as quickly as they did here.
Armstrong’s Transplants set seemed to have provided a good warm-up as, as he sounded about as good as someone with his distinct singing style could and spent plenty of time spinning around the stage throughout the set. Guitarist Lars Frederiksen, standing off to the left of the stage and not pretending to be quite the showman that Armstrong is, still made his presence felt by providing most of the between song banter and handling vocals on a few of the night’s best received tracks. Even bassist and founding member Matt Freeman took his turn on vocals, stepping up to the mic to sing on “Rejected” from 2009’s Let The Dominoes Fall.
In all the band would play 29 songs and managed to keep the pit moving the entire time. If you’ve ever been to a punk show during the summer, you can probably imagine the amount of shirtless bro moshing taking place. Songs that inspired the most participation were “Read Hot Moon” and “Fall Back Down” from 2003’s Indestructible, along with 1994’s “I Wanna Riot” and “Gunshot”.
The band ended the show with a 3 songs encore that consisted of “Tenderloin” from 94’s Lets Go sandwiched by the band’s biggest tracks: “Time Bomb” and “Ruby Soho” from their platinum effort …And Out Come The Wolves. The crowd roared their approval for each one, especially “Time Bomb” which Armstrong jokingly introduced as a “newer song.”
While the band pulled mostly from their most successful albums and didn’t stray far from the formula they had employed on previous tours, no one left unhappy. After years of filling venues around the world, they seem to have the whole live show thing under control. The next thing for the band to work on is their recent penchant for taking 4-5 years between every release. Rumor has it they’ll put out their first album since 2009 later this year. And that can only mean more touring, more Tim Armstrong swinging his guitar, and more circle pits. And hopefully fewer Transplants.
Fall Out Boy
May 26th 2013
House Of Blues Boston
Fall Out Boy. There’s a lot to say about this band, but nothing that hasn’t already been said before. And that’s why I’m ending this review right here. Or at least I should, because it’s probably going to be a lot longer than it needs to be, so here’s the short version:
Fall Out Boy returns from four year hiatus. Announces new album and club tour. Tour sells out in seconds. Band releases Save Rock And Roll, which debuts at #1. Band makes triumphant return to Boston in ridiculous fashion. Show includes teenage girls lining up in the freezing rain 12 hours prior to doors opening, Pete Wentz wearing leather pants and some sort of kilt, a lot of flashing lights, and Patrick Stump completely stealing the show.
If that last sentence didn’t make you gag and you’re still reading, here’s the unabridged version:
The show started with scores of people standing in line in the wasteland that exists behind the House of Blues. I’ve seen long lines at this venue, but never one that wrapped all the way around the building like this. The box office had opened at 3PM to allow fans to pick up their “will call only” tickets, and it was obvious that hundreds of fans had arrived much earlier than that.
Despite the line, everyone seemed to make their way inside in time to catch the opening set from Long Island’s NK (formally know as North Korea). The group is led by Ryan Hunter, the charismatic former lead singer of Envy on the Coast. Hunter’s previous band was an underground favorite that had unfortunately called it quits after only two albums in 2010. Hunter is joined in the band by Envy guitarist Brian Bryne, as well as Dilinger Escape Plan drummer Billy Rymer.
“Diverse” would be a good way to describe the band’s sound, as they bounced from Rage Against The Machine-like aggression to Incubus-esque polish, even including a slowed-down “island jam” towards the end of the set. The band’s performance was surprising in that it sounded almost nothing like any of the member’s previous work. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it also means it will be an uphill battle to establish the same type of fan base Envy On The Coast once enjoyed.
After thanking Fall Out Boy for the opportunity to open the show, NK made their way off stage as the countdown to the headliners began. There was very little movement in the crowd, as those who had waited hours in line for a good spot had already staked their claim to the prime viewing spots. As the break carried on past the standard half hour, everyone in attendance began to get antsy, until the lights and music finally cut off and a spotlight illuminated the giant white screen covering most of the stage.
Behind this screen, the shadows of the four band members could be seen as they made their way on stage to Jay-Z’s spoken word intro to “Thriller”. Soon enough, the white screen fell to the floor, revealing the band behind it and inspiring even louder and more ear-splitting shrieks from the crowd.
Lead singer Patrick Stump bounded up to the microphone to start the song while Pete Wentz jumped off a riser at the front of the stage and started spinning in circles like a top. Stump’s booming vocals, Wentz’s theatrics, the falling curtain and all of the flashing strobe lights made for an appearance completely befitting of a band that seems to relish this kind of spectacle.
While some things never change (Wentz’s penchant for showboating instead of actually playing the bass), some thing’s certainly have since the band’s early days. Lead singer Patrick Stump, for example, has always seemed rooted to the microphone stand and entirely uncomfortable in front of the screeming masses. There was also a time when he wasn’t that great of a singer. What a difference a few years and a couple of gold records makes.
The newly slimmed-down Stump literally stole the show, rendering Wentz an unlikely supporting character. When not belting out the huge choruses that make up most of the band’s songs, Stump was racing from one end of the stage to the other or jumping up on the risers, all the while keeping up with his responsibilities as the band’s rhythm guitarist.
Stump commented at the start of the show that he was starting to loose his voice and he would need the crowd’s help in singing along. If this is what his voice sounds like on a bad day, it’s hard to imagine what it sounds like on a good day. Stump handled just about all of the set’s 20 songs with ease, and if there were times when he was off, the crowd was too loud for anyone to notice.
The band did include all of their biggest songs, many of them coming early in the set, including “A Little Less 16 Candles A Little More Touch Me”, “This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race”, and “Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy” (and wow does this band have some obnoxiously long song titles).
While it was nice to hear the hits, it was all of the non-hits the band played that made the set special. These tracks included “Disloyal Order Of The Water Buffalo” and “What A Catch Donnie” – both from 2008’s Folie a Deux. While the album may not have been as well received as their previous work (and was a big reason they went on hiatus), I think these tracks stack up well against anything else they’ve done, and the rest of the crowd seemed to agree based on their reaction.
Another of the show’s high water marks came in the form of “Hum Hallelujah” from 2007’s Infinity On High. Wentz dedicated the song to Boston, saying the city had “been through a lot over the last month”, and then stepped aside to let Stump’s soaring vocals to once again steal the spotlight.
While primarily focusing on newer material, the band did dust off a few choice cuts from their landmark 2003 effort Take This To Your Grave, including “Tell That Mick He Just Made My List Of Things To Do Today”. Many of those in the audience may have been under 10 years old when the record was released, but that didn’t stop these songs from inspiring huge sing-alongs that at times made Stump’s presence seem unnecessary.
The set came to a close with two more solid performances, beginning with a lively rendition of “I Don’t Care”, the Folie a Deux lead single that may have been a radio flop, but was very well received on this night. They then transitioned into current lead single “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light ‘Em Up)” – which has not suffered the same fate as “I Don’t Care”, selling over 1 million downloads since its release.
After making their way off stage for a quick break before the encore, the band returned to play “Save Rock And Roll” while the screens behind them displayed images of rock legends like the Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Prince, and Johnny Cash. While it seems ridiculous for a band like Fall Out Boy to be insinuating that they are carrying on in the same tradition as these heavyweights, you do have to appreciate the ambition. During the song, Stump did his best to channel another legend, pounding away at the piano and covering the vocals sang on the album by one Elton John.
Bringing down the curtain on the show was the duo of “Thnks Fr Th Mmrs” and “Saturday”, the Take This To Your Grave track that has served as the band’s set closing number for as long as anyone can remember. As is the norm, Wentz put down the bass during this song to climb into the crowd and pass the mic to those who had dedicated their entire Sunday to being close to the stage for the 90 minute set.
The band then took their bows and made their exit while many in the crowd lingered, hoping to find a stray guitar pick on the floor or the friends they lost track of at some point during the set.
If you were at the show, you would probably agree that Fall Out Boy’s comeback is looking like a huge success. Of course, when you are a band that was as big as Fall Out Boy was, you’re always bound to have a dedicated fan base that sticks with you and can help you pack smaller venues like this. The real test will come this fall, when the band embarks on a national arena tour, which will provide a good indication as to whether this comeback is going to be short-lived on whether the band really is primed to return as one of rock’s biggest acts.
FUN. is having the type of year that defines the term “breakout year”. The band has seen their single “We Are Young” soar to the top of the pop charts after being featured on an episode of Glee and in a Super Bowl commercial.”We Are Young” became the first rock track to hit #1 since Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” in 2008, an astonishing feat when you consider that rock radio stations continue to disappear, making it much harder for bands like FUN. to enjoy this type of crossover success.
Of course, the good times don’t stop there for the trio of Nate Ruess, Andrew Dost, and Jack Antonoff. The band’s new album Some Nights has received positive reviews from fans and critics alike, and their North American tour has become one of spring’s hottest tickets.
Many of those who have been exposed to “We Are Young’s” gigantic hook, FUN. is just the latest overnight pop sensation – a studio creation that is probably the result of focus groups and million dollar producers.They’ll enjoy their 15 minutes of fame, make Live Nation a few bucks through VIP packages at some cheesy radio festival, and then be forgotten by this time next year.
The crowd that gathered at the House of Blues knew that this wasn’t the case. Unlike the upstart pop stars many would compare them to, Dost, Ruess, and Antonoff have toiled in relative obscurity for the better part of a decade in a number of different projects, never seeing the success they deserved.
Ruess had started as the lead singer of cult favorites The Format from 1999 through their breakup in 2008, and helped create one of the greatest pop-rock records of all time in 2006’s Dog Problems. While The Format certainly played their share of sold-out shows, they never saw the type of commercial success that many (including their record label) expected from them.
Antonoff, meanwhile, has played guitar in Steel Train since 2002. Like the Format, Steel Train has released a number of excellent albums to little fanfare. In fact, the band’s biggest tours have been slots opening for FUN. and The Format. Dost, meanwhile, earned his stripes as a member of Anathallo, an indie band that some worshiped and others just didn’t get (I fall into the later category).
All the while, the trio had built a small but dedicated fan base that would become the foundation of FUN’s breakthrough. These fans had snatched up all of the tickets early, and were ready to sing every word, whether it be to “We Are Young”, “The Gambler” from their debut album, or even their cover of the Rolling Stones “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”
Ruess’s booming, theatrical voice and commanding stage presence made every song seem like an event. From the opening notes of “One Foot” through the end of the 75-minute set, the band was loud, energetic, and pretty much spot-on. Ruess and Antonoff are both well versed at mugging for the (iphone) camera, and the risers positioned at the front of the stage didn’t hurt. Ruess, sporting Rajon Rondo’s green Celtics jersey jumped up on one of the three black boxes to hold the mic out to the crowd and let them shout the chorus back to him on a number of occasions . He repeatedly thanked those in attendance and praised Boston for being so great to him over the years.
The setlist seemed evenly split between tracks from their current album and 2009’s Aim and Ignite. The band closed the show with an encore of “Some Nights,” and “Take Your Time.” The former will be the band’s next single, and could very well prolong the band’s chart dominance for another few months. After this, FUN. (apparently) came back out for a second encore consisting of “Be Calm” and “All Alright.” Seeing as I missed this second encore, I would like to say that second encores are ridiculous and should be outlawed
Aside from the missed opportunity at the end, this was one of the more exciting shows I’ve witnessed in a long time. To see a band explode from cult favorites to mainstreams stars is something that just doesn’t happen all that often. When it does, you hope it will happen to a deserving group that has paid their dues, and FUN. certainly fits that description. Only time will tell if the commercial success will continue, but one thing is for sure, and that is that the band’s dedicated fans will stick around for a long time – meaning FUN. is likely to be anything but a flash in the pan.
Short version: Jack’s mannequin played a show in Boston. They were great. They normally are. You should seem them live. But if you missed this show, you’ might be out of luck.
Slightly Extended version: On Friday night, Jack’s Mannequin brought down the house, again. They were making their first proper Boston appearance since the release of their third album, People and Things, and with a history of memorable area appearances, everyone in attendance knew they were in for a great show. Just one question lingered, and likely won’t be answered for some time: was this the band’s final time playing in the city?
In a recently published interview with Andrew McMahon, the band’s frontman/mastermind had, in a vague, artist speak kind of way hinted that the band had run its course. He said the project wasn’t as enjoyable as it once had been, and it might just be time to move on. This didn’t come as a complete surprises when you considering McMahon originally intended Jack’s to be a one-off side project, and it was now going into its seventh year. Also, Places and Thing, despite being a solid album, didn’t receive the type of enthusiastic reception the band’s first two efforts had.
While McMahon didn’t acknowledge the future of the band during the show, and most in the crowd were probably unaware of these comments, those who did know realized this could be the end of something special. If this tour is indeed the last hurrah, the band demonstrated they plan to go out swinging.
The night opened with a set from Allen Stone (which I missed). Philadelphia three-piece Jukebox the Ghost then took the stage. Their forty-five minute set was relatively well received by the crowd, which at this point had already packed the House of Blues.
Jack’s Mannequin kicked off their set with “Bruised” from debut album Everything in Transit. While the band had plenty of new material to show off, this older favorite had the crowd singing along so loudly McMahon had to battle to be heard.
While it quickly became obvious from the set list this was the People and Things tour, McMahon and Co. did a good job of mixing in songs from their first two records alongside new tracks such as “Release Me”, “Amy, I”, and “Amelia Jean.”
While these new songs didn’t receive quite the reaction that many of the older tracks did, most of them were more impressive and packed more of a punch than they do on the record. McMahon has said that People and Things was recorded as more of a full band effort and less as a solo project, and this seemed to benefit the group’s live show. In an ideal world, the band’s performance of “Hey Hey Hey (We’re All Gonna Die)” and “People Running” alone should boost sales of the new record by at least a few hundred copies next week. It probably won’t happen, but both of these tracks were show-stoppers.
Good record sales or not, McMahon’s stage presence is second to none. Even in a cavernous venue packed with 2,000 people, you couldn’t help but feel like he was playing you songs in his living room. The stage set up didn’t hurt, for the band was surround by household lamps and blue light bulbs suspended above the stage. At other times, two giant “mirror balls” (as McMahon described them) set the venue awash in light.
The rest of the band’s set didn’t feature any real curve balls. “Bloodshot” “Holiday From Real” and clos
to the encore, the band returned to the stage to perform the acoustic track “Restless Dream,” which they followed by “My Racing Thoughts” ( although I could be wrong on that one though).ing number “Dark Blue” all received huge reactions from the crowd, as they always do. Never ones to skimp when it comes
to do it.Finally, the band would bring the night to a close with “La La La Lie”, another Everything in Transit staple. Basked in confetti and “mirror ball” light, the band would make their way off the House of Blues stage for what very well could have been the final time. If this in fact was the last Boston appearance, going out with a superb set in front of an ecstatic sellout crowd isn’t a bad way
April 29th 2011
House of Blues Boston
Rise Against sure does know how to pick openers. Recent tour mates have included the likes of Thursday, Circa Survive, Billy Talent, Alkaline Trio, Thrice, The Gaslight Anthem, Rancid… and the list goes on . That’s why it was no surprise when they announced their most recent mega-tour, this one with support from punk legends Bad Religion and Worcester natives Four Year Strong. Their appearance at the House of Blues in Boston on April 29th was their first of two sold-out shows, and after witnessing the three live sets, it was obvious why this tour had no trouble selling tickets.
The night started off with a half hour set from Four Year Strong. As the local favorites, at least half the fans in attendance seemed to be into it, not bad for an opener. I was pleasantly surprised to see they had dropped the cheesy synth parts from their live show, which allowed the set to take on a much heavier, punk-rock feel than they displayed on their first record. All in all, probably a band I should get more familiar with.
Next was Bad Religion. After having played their own headlining show at the same venue last fall, they were easily able to get the crowd involved as they performed a set of material that spanned their 30 year career. Just like they had in October, they sounded great, and Greg Graffin was sure to include quite a bit of “We’re so old” between song banter. They finished the set in particularly strong fashion with the trio of “We’re Only Going to Die,” “Los Angeles is Burning,” and “Sorrow.” Their 15 song set was, of course, too short for satisfaction, but seeing them twice in less than a year was already more than most fans could ask for.
A half hour later, Rise Against took the stage and proved why they are one of today’s best live acts. The intensity they bring to each and every show is practically unmatched among their peers. Every song seems like it is a call to arms, urging the crowd to d fight for what they believe in, or at least put their fists in the air and sing along.
Surprisingly, the band strayed away from their new album Endgame, playing only four of the new tracks. Much of the setlist (7 songs) came from their excellent 2008 release Appeal to Reason. No matter the song, frontman Tim Mcllrath looked like a man possessed, with his eyes as wide as saucers and veins ready to explode. This is, of course, par for the course at a Rise Against show.
In addition to the seven songs from Appeal to Reason, the band also worked in five songs from their fan-favorite 2006 effort Sufferer and the Witness, and included an acoustic interlude that features “Swing Life Away” and “Hero of War.”The band would then close the set with the pounding Sufferer track “Ready to Fall.”
While the whole encore thing has grown old for pretty much everyone who goes to more than two shows a year, there is something to be said for a band that really puts effort into their encores. Rise Against is one of those bands, returning for a four song stint that did not include any of their big singles, but instead focused on choice cuts from three different albums. “Blood Red White and Blue” was the lone representative from 2004’s Revolutions Per Minute, while “Entertainment” and “Savior” were also included from Appeal to Reason. The closing number was the song that originally drew me to Rise Against, that being “Give It All” from 2004’s Siren Song of the Counter Culture. I still believe this is the song that embodies everything that makes Rise Against one of today’s most successful rock bands, from it’s sincere lyrics and epic bridge to it’s fist-pumping chorus.
Needless to say, I left the show a very happy customer. While it was slightly disappointing to not be attending the second Boston show, I knew that Rise Against is the type of band that never stops touring, and would probably have another big announcement coming shortly. It turns out I was right, as they were announced as the support band on the Foo Fighters Fall arena trek. Talk about a mega-tour.
I haven’t lost my voice in a long time. In fact, the last time I lost my voice was in 2007, the day after a crazy Motion City Soundtrack show at a tiny club in Boston then known as Axis. That giant sing-along marked the last time Motion City Soundtrack would play a proper headlining show in the city until they visited the House of Blues for a co-headlining gig with Say Anything on November 9th.
In an interesting turn of events, MCS lead singer Justin Pierre would end up losing his voice prior to the show, rendering him unable to sing any of the band’s songs. Instead of canceling the show, the band would recruit a revolving door of singing talent to fill in, helping to turn an unfortunate situation into what was likely one of the band’s most memorable performances.
Since this review is mainly about Motion City Soundtrack, I might as well skip straight to their set and recount the great performances by Saves the Day and Say Anything a little later. I attended the Providence show two night earlier, and it was very obvious that Justin was having some major vocal issues. The next day, he would author a blog entry explaining the situation. It was pretty simple. He had come down with some type of sickness and wouldn’t be able to sing at the Boston show. Therefore, members of the tour’s other bands would handle the singing duties while Pierre would stick to guitar.
While everyone in the crowd may have known that Justin wouldn’t be singing, nearly every other aspect of the set came as a surprise. The biggest of those surprises came early, as the band took the stage under blinding strobe lights to the thud of an industrial dance beat. Say Anything lead singer Max Bemis then grabbed the mic and helped kick off the set with a 100% awesome cover of Nine Inch Nail’s “Head Like a Hole.” Bemis, dressed in black from head to toe, channeled his inner Trent Reznor to near perfection.
In what would turn out to be a star-studded set, Bemis would exit stage left to prepare for Say Anything’s set, only to be replaced by Kenny Vasoli, who is not only a current Say Anything guitarist, but also the lead singer of Person L and The Starting Line. With a huge smile on his face, Vasoli would lead the band through early favorites “My Favorite Accident” And “Capital H.” While Vasoli didn’t need much help remembering the words, he did have a music stand with printed lyrics positioned nearby. Of course, the crowd stepped in to help whenever there was any doubt as to which line came next.
At this point, it began to look like the band was auditioning new singers, as Vasoli left and was replaced by afro-ed Saves the Day drummer (that’s right, drummer) Claudio Rivera. Considering he doesn’t actually sing for a living, the way he handled “Worker Bee” and “Better Open the Door” was quite impressive. The Saves the Day parade then continued, as guitarist Arun Bali shared vocal duties with MCS drummer Tony Thaxton on “Disappear.”
Open mic night then continued as Say Anything guitarist Jake Turner stepped in for “Her Words Destroyed My Planet,” who was followed by A Great Big Pile of Leaves frontman Pete Weiland for “A Lifeless Ordinary” and “Everything is Alright,” which had the crowd shouting the lyrics back at Weiland’s outstretch mic stand. One of the more remarkable aspects of the set was how well it was received by the fans. Despite the fact none of the fill-ins sounded a whole lot like Pierre, the crowd’s enthusiasm never faltered.
Vasoli would then make another appearance, this time to cover “LG FUAD,” “Indoor Living,” and “The Future Freaks Me Out.” All the while, Pierre did his best to tear it up on guitar, racing from side to side, bouncing up and down, and generally enjoying his new found freedom on stage. MCS would close their set with the help of Saves the Day frontman Chris Conley and two (somewhat) mellow numbers, “Last Night” and “Hold Me Down.” Despite the fact that he stared at a lyric sheet throughout the two songs, Conley still provided a very fitting end to the set.
Overall, Motion City Soundtrack’s revolving lead singer experiment worked much better than anyone could have hoped. Each temporary lead singer should be commended for his efforts, especially considering many of them had just learned their parts earlier in the day. The performance would somehow overshadow both Say Anything’s headlining set and Saves the Day’s opening set, which also deserve some coverage.
Saves the Day sounded great as usual. They did a great job mixing up their set list, featuring a number of Through Being Cool favorites along with newer material, including three songs from their upcoming record Daybreak. While only a small portion of the crowd may have been into their set, it is exciting to think about what they’ll be able to do headlining a show at a smaller venue sometime soon (hopefully).
Say Anything was the final act of the night, and they did their best to match Motion City Soundtrack’s performance. They certainly did just that. While Say Anything songs have a tenancy to come across very well in a live setting, they sounded as good on this night as I’ve ever heard them, and I’ve been to quite a few of their shows. The crowd, seemingly warmed up after MCS’s performance, was just as good, jumping, dancing, and singing themselves hoarse throughout the hour and 15 minute set.
While old standouts like “Woe” and “Alive with the Glory of Love” received huge reactions, songs from their recent self-titled full length got the crowd moving as well, especially “He Won’t Follow You” and “Do Better.” Bemis continually thanked the fans for their support, while at the same time begging them to come back the next time the band was in town. Say Anything is seemingly one of the venue’s favorite acts, having played the House of Blues three times in the past year alone.
Bemis and Co. would close the set with a two song encore. While “Plea” slowed things down, “Admit It!” finished the night on a high note, with both fists and fans flying through the air. While this may be the standard closing number for a Say Anything show, it put an exclamation point on a night that was anything but predictable.
At any given Bad Religion show, there is a good chance that the band has been around longer than the majority of those who bought tickets. Celebrating their 3oth year in operation, the punk legends continue to produce quality albums and grow their fan base. Their continued success can be attributed to the fact that the band’s recent work is some of their best. The Dissent of Man, which hit shelves in September, is no exception. Touring in support of their new album, the band stopped at the House of Blues in Boston to prove that they might be old, but they can still tear it up.
The night started off with a half hour performance from Minneapolis’s Off With Their Heads. Unfortunately, an early start time meant that I wasn’t able to catch their set. However, I can say that if you like Bad Religion and haven’t checked out this band, you should. Their recent album “In Desolation” is a great punk record.
Next up were The Bouncing Souls. Having just celebrated a milestone 20th anniversary themselves, this is another band that knows something about longevity. To most in the crowd, pairing the Bouncing Souls and Bad Religion made for a dream combination, and the Jersey veterans didn’t disappoint with their set.
Racing through 15 songs, the band’s 45 minutes on stage seemed to fly by. The diehard fans at the front loved every moment of their career spanning set, as the band reached deep into their back catalog and pulled out favorites such as 1994’s “Some Kind of Wonderful” and 1997’s “Kate is Great” and “East Coast Fuck You.”
While lead singer Greg Attonito and Co. will never be accused of having great stage presence, the frontman did jump down to the barrier on a number occasions to pass the mic and get the crowd involved. The Bouncing Souls weren’t built to play a cavernous venue like the House of Blues, but they did their best to make the show feel like the sweaty punk shows their fans are accustomed to.
While the first part of their set featured older crowd favorites, the band closed with “Never Say Die/When You’re Young,” a song off their most recent album. The Bouncing Souls are lucky to have a fan base that has grown with them as their sound has changed over the years, and the audience’s reaction to this song was a testament to that.
Quickly after the Bouncing Souls had left the stage their fans began to shuffle to the back of the venue while hundreds of others rushed to the front in anticipation of what would be another great set from Bad Religion.
The band made their appearance on stage and didn’t waste any time before jumping into the fast and aggressive “Do What You Want.” The 1-minute blast from 1988’s Suffer instantly opened a giant circle pit in the middle of the floor that would rage on all night.
Like the Bouncing Souls before them, Bad Religion did their best to please everyone, playing a diverse mix of hit singles and crowd favorites, along with earlier material and the best tracks from The Dissent of Man. Needless to say, nearly every song was well received by the crowd, many of whom shouted along to every word.
While lead singer Greg Graffin may be a published author and UCLA professor by day, he steals the show on stage each night. In between sarcastic “I’m too old for this” jabs, he belted out song after song, never missing a step. Having last played Boston four years earlier, Gaffin did quite a bit of in-between song reminiscing, and even dedicated “Avalon” to the venue of the same name that was recently replaced by the House of Blues.
Popular tracks such as “21st Century Digital Boy,” “Atomic Garden” and set closer “American Jesus” inspired the biggest circle pits of the night. The fact that some of these songs were older than the fans moshing along was almost as impressive as how the songs sounded live.
At the conclusion of “American Jesus,” the band left the stage, but the usual calls for “one more song'” didn’t follow. It seemed as if those at the front were too exhausted to play that game. Gaffin and Co. did return however, all be it in less than dramatic fashion. What followed was easily one of the best encores I’ve ever seen.
This encore included a trio of Bad Religion’s very best, beginning with the rousing “Infected,” moving to the anthemic “Los Angeles is Burning” and finishing with the band’s most notable hit, “Sorrow.” I personally couldn’t have asked for anything more. It was the perfect way to end a 27 song set that had moved at a frantic pace.
With 30 years and 15 albums under their belt, you would expect a band like Bad Religion be slowing down, maybe even resting on their laurels. This obviously is not the case. Their current tour proves that they remain one of punk’s most vital acts. Not only have they inspired many of today’s top acts, they continued to show them how it’s done.