Before you read any further, if you plan to attend TAKING BACK SUNDAY's TAYF10 (Tell All Your Friends' 10th anniversary) tour and do not want to see spoilers, TURN BACK NOW! This review is for the first 2 dates, and there will be spoilers!
October 4, 2012 - Cleveland, OH - House Of Blues
October 6, 2012 - Chicago, IL - The Riviera Theater
Emily and I.
At the end of February, 2 days prior to my birthday, we had managed to weasel our way into a show meant for Ohio State students only (Ha! Suckahss!), and the band managed to play 2 days after Emily's birthday at the House Of Blues in Cleveland a few days ago.
Pretty cool coincidence, right?
What better way to spend my best friend's birthweekend than following her favorite band on the first couple dates of their tour?
Before I get into the details of how shows are going down on TAYF10, I just want to gush briefly about the amazing people I met while queuing.
A concert line-wait can be a stressful, hostile, downright ugly thing. People forget their manners and can get beyond mean--like, "you would only say that anon on the Internet" mean. Seriously.
What happened in line for these shows was the exact opposite. Everyone was friendly, we all had each others' backs and there was not a shred of hostility. If, somewhere down the (literal) line, there was anything negative going on, we all were shielded from it in our little huddle.
So, thank you for being great: Amanda, Jace, James, Luce, Michelle, Justine, Brittany, Kari and anyone else I'm forgetting or simply don't have a link to! You all rule, and you kind of restored my faith that there can be nice humans at concerts and not everyone is out to destroy my fun. Ha!
There is nothing better than watching a band that you can tell love what they do. Unfortunately, I cannot give that observation accolade to the quiet first opener of this leg of the TAYF10 tour, Mansions, but to both BAYSIDE and Taking Back Sunday, I definitely can.
Bayside are the perfect build-up to TBS, and they are all smiles as they play their energetic set. They make me wish I knew more Bayside songs just so that I could sing along as loudly as their "Cult" (No, I'm not being weird. Their devout fans call themselves that.)
Starting with "Sick, Sick, Sick" and closing with "Devotion And Desire," Bayside's set is 45 minutes (I hear that's the amount of stage time they get) of excitement. Both for devoted Cult members and for those who are just waiting for TBS.
As bassist Nick Ghanbarian noted during the Chicago show, they love seeing people dancing and singing along ("keep it up," he said), but he also just asked those who couldn't dance and sing along to simply pay attention.
With Bayside, I'd say you'd be amiss not to pay attention. You would probably also find it very hard. They command your focus.
If you're still reading this and thinking it's not going to be spoiler-heavy, just back away now; because, I plan to spoil at least 2 things in the next paragraph alone.
As the venue darkens before Taking Back Sunday comes onstage, the "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" theme-song begins to play. Much like the "Lion King" opener of Warped Tour (which, by the way, was the pre-TAYF10 tour for both Bayside and TBS; both expressed how weird it was at the shows), the intro is smile-inducing.
Taking Back Sunday jumps from that intro straight into "What's It Feel Like To Be A Ghost?" and performs a short run of their set staples (including "One-Eighty By Summer," "El Paso" and "MakeDamnSure") in front of a backdrop displaying their self-titled album's art and within an impressive red-and-blue-heavy light show.
It was during that brief section of the show that I heard whinging behind me in Cleveland: "I thought this was the Tell All Your Friends tour, whine whine whine blah blah."
My friend and I had speculated if they would start with TAYF or with auxiliary songs, and I think the set order works out very well, especially when considering the surprise fans get at the end (yeah, spoilers. I'm SERIOUS. Back away now.)
I've written before about just how special and intimate a Taking Back Sunday show is, largely thanks to vocalist Adam Lazzara's not just looking you in the eye, but STARING YOU DOWN as you sing along with him, but it's not only him. Shaun and John smile almost the entire time they're playing, Eddie ventures across the stage and to the very tip of it to engage with the crowd, and my best friend and I have even caught a smile from Mark from behind his drum kit at the back of the stage.
They just make it...special. I can only imagine how intimate and interactive the acoustic shows on this tour are.
Adam's wandering-the-crowd antics have resumed for TAYF10. For those who have never seen it, Adam literally jumps off of the stage and wades his way through the crowd, still singing (his mic cord is held over the crowd) making it his goal to get to the back and from one side of the venue to the other.
In Chicago, it seems something went awry as he attempted that. A shout into the mic of "Get the fuck up off me, man" and a fuming Adam returning to the stage didn't look so good.
Before doing that, he had wedged his boot between my
two friends, Justine and Michelle, on the barricade, which was very close to the stage and sang above
us before falling into the crowd, which held him up much more effortlessly than
they do crowd-surfers who tend to tumble onto my head.
Needless to say, if you're going to the TAYF10 tour, you're going to get a whole lot of Adam in your face, which is AWESOME. Just don't be a dick: don't steal his mic, don't touch him inappropriately, don't you dare sit down ("I'm sorry to 'put you out,'" Adam had snidely called out the seated balcony during their planned pause in "Bike Scene" in Cleveland. "But, we're about to blow your goddamn minds."), don't gaze at him through your camera or phone (he WILL take it and turn it off; don't play) and just--in his words--"don't be weird."
During the Tell All Your Friends section of the set, a new "Exit 152" backdrop is lowered and the band plays their debut album in full, as advertised, and laces it with anecdotes about the songs sporadically.
During the Cleveland show, Adam had epiphanies of the awkward and the arrogant. He asked John why no one warned him that it would be awkward to play "Great Romances Of The 20th Century" and to ask an audience of people if they're "turned on." He stopped in the middle of "Your Own Disaster" to note that it had just occurred to him how arrogant the chorus is.
Adam: "I just realized how arrogant that chorus is. Because the lyric is: 'I don't think that you know what you've been missing...'"
John: "And it's you."
In Chicago, he also shared the story of how he was playing "Your Own Disaster" and John really believed in the song and how much that meant to him, a story he has told before, but is always heart-warming to hear.
Before "Ghost Man On Third," Adam asked us if we liked Glassjaw, and noted that he does his "best Daryl Palumbo impression in the chorus" of the song, a joke he decided, after a lackluster response, would go over better in New York.
Joking aside, I looked down to see a friend moved to tears by the song--a display of the power music can have over us and how it touches us so profoundly. Even after 10 years, Tell All Your Friends resounds with so many people.
My friends and I joked about the dudebros who would show up on this tour, drunkenly slurring about how the album got them through their high school years, but it's not just an album that can get you through a youth crisis, even if Adam did pen the lyrics at 18. It's still relevant and can be tailored as a soundtrack to many struggles.
Adam joked that he listens to the album and hates the sound of his voice, but thanked us for coming to the shows because TAYF does mean something to everyone in the crowd. It may be a small thing, may be a nostalgia thing, but--I think--for many, we can still relate even after all of this time.
And, the songs are powerful enough, but in Chicago, as Adam threw in a couple "fucks" where they normally wouldn't reside (“It’s a shame I don’t think that they’ll
notice/ those motherfuckers never even care.” And “From friends who never gave
a fuck about you...”), it just grew even more intense. The funny thing is that in Cleveland, Adam had apologized to the "ladies" for swearing, saying he just didn't have another way to express how he was feeling. By Chicago, swearing was in full, unapologetic force.
TAYF10 does not end with a traditional encore, but in lieu of one, after the band plays the full album, they close with the two B-sides, "Your Own Disaster" and "The Ballad Of Sal Villanueva," the latter of which Adam claims they haven't played in 9 years.
On the first night, their playing “Your Own Disaster”
last resulted in an almost solemn ending. Whereas, in Chicago, they closed with “The Ballad Of Sal
Villanueva” making for an energetic burst of a close, albeit, probably a little
less fun for fans in attendance who weren’t familiar with the song. Altogether, the order switch was for the best.
So, that was that. The end.
Within 72 magical hours at the beginning of October, 2012, I got about 8 hours of sleep, made great friends and witnessed 2 amazing shows. The Chicago show may actually be one of my very favorite TBS shows to date!
So, can I just...go back now? That would be great.