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.
New Found Glory 10th Anniversary Tour
House of Blues Boston
February 21st, 2010
When it comes to pop-punk, New Found Glory’s self-titled record is considered by many to be the gold standard. Since its release in 2000, the album has inspired countless copy cats, none of which have earned the type of success the band has enjoyed over the past decade. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the fan favorite record, the band announced a nationwide tour in which they would play the album from start to finish on each night. They also announced they would be taking Saves the Day with them, marking the first time the two band’s had toured together in a decade. To die-hard New Found Glory fans, it seemed too good to be true. Luckily for them, it wasn’t.
The night began with a set from Fireworks, a band with a history of opening New Found Glory shows. While they may not do much to distinguish themselves from many of today’s other pop-punk acts, they have begun to build a sold fan base on the strength of their relentless touring schedule. This was evident as fans towards the front of the venue sang along, started circle pits, and generally made life uncomfortable for the those who weren’t familiar with the Detroit quintet.
While the band’s performance was spirited, it was often hard to make out lead singer David Mackinder’s vocals, which seems to be a common problem for opening acts at the House of Blues. The group did end the set on a high with their performance of “Detroit,” which had even fair weather fans singing along loudly.
Next was Hellogoodbye, a band that had earned commercial success with their 2006 album Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs!, but has fallen off the radar of late. The group had headlined large Boston venues in the past, but on this night they found themselves trying hard to win over hundreds of skeptical fans. Whether they were successful or not is debatable, for some at the front of the venue did seem to enjoy themselves, while the rest of the crowd waited impatiently for the night’s two big acts. The band saved their hits for last, finishing the set with “All of Your Love” and “Here (In Your Arms),” do the delight of at least a few in the audience.
The crowd’s indifference evaporated instantly when Saves the Day took the stage. While New Found Glory’s self-titled record may be the pop-punk gold standard, it can easily be argued that Saves the Day’s “Through Being Cool” and “Stay What You Are” take silver and bronze. With those two records, the band built a large cult following which hasn’t evaporated despite the fact recent releases haven’t been as well received.
I’ve seen Saves the Day on a number of occasions, and I must say that I haven’t been very impressed of late. They have focused mainly on their newer material, which wouldn’t be a problem, if only they would play the good new material. Tonight, they did, perfectly mix their older crowd favorites with standout cuts from their last two records. The crowd wasn’t shy in showing their appreciation, and it would have been easy to mistake the New Jersey quartet as the headliners.
While the band has gone through drastic line-up changes in the past year, they didn’t miss a beat sonically. Lead singer Chris Conely, the group’s only original member, seems to be re-energized by the changes, sounding better and looking more enthusiastic than in the band’s past few area appearances. The highlights of the set were popular b-side “Sell My Old Clothes, I’m Off to Heaven” and “Bones” from 2006’s “Sound the Alarm.”It was the type of performance that could also re-energize the Saves the Day fan base as they await the release of their next record “Daybreak,” which should be out by the end of the year.
As the crowd caught it’s breath, New Found Glory’s stage crew unveiled a huge banner featuring the self-titled record’s instantly recognizable artwork, Atari controller and crumpled Brittany Spears ticket included. The headliners would take the stage to the all too familiar tune of Miley Cyrus’s “Party being piped over the intercom, and from there, the insanity began.
As promised, New Found Glory would perform their self-titled record in it’s entirety, and opening track “Better Off Dead” provided the spark that would set the crowd off for the rest of the night. Bodies flew through the air while everyone from the front of the stage to the balconies high above sang and shouted along. The set’s first four songs, which concluded with “Hit or Miss” had those on the floor in a state of near-hysteria, and it was a blast, to say the least.
The set’s success was due in large part to the fact that nearly every song on New Found Glory just begs to be played live. The tracks hit hard and fast, with more sugary hooks than the venue’s coat check. The mid tempo “Sincerely Me” perfectly placed in the middle of the album, allowed the crowd to take a short breather.
“Boy Crazy” and the rarely played “All About Her” where the high points of the set for me, with both showcasing everything that has made New Found Glory a terrific live band for the past decade. While the band would announce “Ballad of the Lost Romantics” as the last song, but considering how quickly the the set had flown by, most in the crowd knew they were in for a lengthy encore.
The quintet would return to the stage, and as the original banner fell to reveal the image of a chainsaw wielding maniac, the band would launch into a seven song encore that showcased the best songs not included on their self-titled album. As usual, “All Downhill from Here” and it’s huge chorus had fans bouncing like super balls, while Gorilla Biscuits cover “No Reason Why” appeased all of the hardcore fans in the room. In keeping with tradition, the band would close the set with “My Friends Over You,” as the crowd somehow found the energy to give the song the reaction it deserves.
The crowd would then slowly file out of the House of Blues, and while some were exhausted and others banged up, just about everyone seemed very happy with what they had just seen. New Found Glory has always been a great live band, and when you combined that with a standout album that hasn’t been well represented on recent tours, you have the ingredients for a great show. Throw in a band like Saves the Day and you have a the makings of an unforgettable night, which is pretty much what this was.
Saves the Day
Nightmare of You
The Palladium, Worcester
May 2nd 2009
When you’ve seen a band enough times, you come to know what to expect from their live shows. You know the songs they’re definitely going to play, you know what the encore will be, and you know which songs everyone will sing along to the loudest. There’s nothing wrong with this, for if a band puts on a great show that the fans are happy with, why make any changes? This is what I expected from Alkaline Trio’s headlining show at the Palladium in Worcester on May 2nd. The show was my fifth time seeing the band in the past year, the first two being headlining shows, and the latter two supporting Rise Against. To my (very pleasant) surprises, the band did not follow the normal formula, instead playing a set that contained almost none of the songs I had heard them play in the past, perfectly mixing tracks both old and new.
The show began with a thirty minute set from Nightmare of You, a band that was once considered “the next big thing” after the release of their self-titled debut in 2005, but has done very little since that point. The group’s set list consisted mainly of tracks from that debut, along with a new cut from their second album, which is set to be released this July. The band’s performance was marred by the borderline awful sound at the Palladium, as Brandon Reilly’s smooth vocals were often drowned out by the drone of Brandon Meyer’s bass lines. The crowd, which was rather sparse at this point, was quite unenthusiastic with only a few in attendance bobbing their heads or showing any familiarity with the band.
Next was Saves the Day, a band that has maintained a rabid fan base despite the fact their last three records haven’t been all the successful. This was evident by the amount of fans who tried to squeeze their way to the stage after Nightmare of You’s set. I’ve seen Saves the Day a number of times over the past four years, and I hate to admit it, but this was certainly the worst performance I’ve witnessed from the band. While they sounded fine, the set list, and the length of the set itself, left most of the Saves the Day fans in the crowd very disappointed. For one, the band only played for about 40 minutes, and for fans that are accustomed to seeing Saves the Day play much longer headlining sets, this came as somewhat of a shock. Next, the band did include a few old favorites in the set list, but they were mixed in with too many new songs, which for the most part acted as crowd killers. While cuts like “Radio” and “Driving in the Dark” are fine songs, they certainly aren’t the band’s best work, and instead of sing-alongs, they elicited mainly blank stares. This is not to say there weren’t some high points, such as “Shoulder to the Wheel” and “Freakish,” but for the most part, they were too few and far between. Saves the Day made matters worse by closing the set with “Kaleidoscope,” a long and dull number off their latest album that completely drained the energy from the room.
Luckily, Alkaline Trio would take a completely different route during their set, playing older fan favorites that they had been neglecting on previous tours. After casually walking out on stage after an agonizing 35 minute wait, the band would greet the crowd and begin the set with “My Friend Peter,” a fan-favorite that instantly worked the audience into a frenzy. Next was “If We Never Go Inside.,” a track from 2003’s Good Mourning. This hinted at what was to come, for the band played more songs from this record than off any other albums, including last year’s Agony and Irony, which was only represented by 2 songs.
While Alkaline Trio fans seemed to have mixed feelings towards Good Mourning, it was the album that introduced me to the band, so I was loving every minute of it. The band would also play “One Hundred Stories,” “Donor Party,” “Fatally Yours,” and “All on Black,” from this record, as well as “This Could Be Love” to close the set, and “Every Thug Needs a Lady” as the first song of the encore. Other old favorites included in the set were “Cringe,” the lone Goddamnit” song represented, “Cooking Wine,” and “I’m Dying Tomorrow,” all three of which received huge reactions from the crowd. While everyone seemed to enjoying themselves at the show, the crowd was certainly the tamest I had seen at an Alkaline Trio show, possibly the result of the more obscure set list that had some of the younger fans scratching their heads and waiting for more Agony and Irony tracks. The band however would only offer Calling “Calling All Skeletons” and “I Found Away,” from that record, ignoring lead single “Help Me,” and announcing about half way through the set they had parted ways with Epic Records.
The crowd seemed less than surprised by this news (the idea of Alkaline Trio on a major label was always somewhat odd), and the band debuted a new song for the first time. While the song sounded good, the band would apologize for the “B” effort. Lead singer Matt Skiba told the crowd they hoped to get in the studio this summer and then self-release a new album next fall. Throughout the set, Skiba and guitarist Dan Adriano were more talkative than I had seen them, and they both sounded great when actually performing their material. At one point, Skiba went off on a tangent about the greatness of 70’s rock band Grand Funk Railroad. While the band had looked slightly uncomfortable int heir opening role for Rise Against the last time I saw them live, they were certainly in their element tonight.
The band would close the show as they normally do, playing “This Could Be Love,” leaving the stage, and then returning for an encore that concluded with “Radio,” which of course inspired an enormous sing along. Overall, a show that got off to a disappointingly slow start turned out to be as memorable as any I’ve seen, thanks solely to the performance of Alkaline Trio, and band that knows exactly what their fans want and seems to deliver every single time.
Alkaline Trio Set List (Not in exact order)
My Friend Peter
If We Never Go Inside
I’m Dying Tomorrow
All On Black
I Found Away
Calling All Skeletons
One Hundred Stories
This Could Be Love
Every Thug Needs a Lady
Saves the Day Set List (might not be exact)
Anywhere With You
Always Ten Feet Tall
Where Are You
Shoulder to the Wheel
Can’t Stay the Same
Driving in the Dark
Head For the Hills
Rocks Tonic Juice Magic
Nightmare of You Set List ( I think)
I Don’t Want to Dance Anymore
My Name Is Trouble
The Days Go By Oh So Slow
I Want To Be Buried In Your Backyard
Why Am I Always Right
Heaven Runs on Oil