by Mitch Foster
I remember the clever ways I used to take that awful sealing sticker off the top of CDs. Maybe take it apart from the bottom and flip it up and peel it back or just take a kitchen knife to it ... That feeling I got when I finally managed to get it out of the jewel case and into my CD player. I'd impatiently waited for the laser to read the disc and begin playing the first song on the album. I remember the first time I heard Say Anything’s Is A Real Boy My hairs still make their best effort to lift the weight of themselves when I hear the opening song, “Belt.” “And the record begins with a song of rebellion.” That, I can’t help but nostalgically rock out to.
There was still a line at 7:45 p.m. when I arrived even though doors were at 6. I entered to the So So Glos delivering nervous intensity under their simple vinyl banner across the stage. The lead singer of the Front Bottoms came out to sing a song with them. I was sober. It was a Thursday, and there were shitty jokes.
My friend recited, “Have you heard of the new bird flu that’s going around? It’s called ‘cherpes.’ Yeah, it sucks, it’s a ‘canarial’ disease.” The lead singer of the Front Bottoms had one for us, too, that he had heard in a diner earlier that day. “What do you call someone who never farts in public? A private tutor.” My internal voice couldn't help from making the “whomp-whomp” sound as I shamefully giggled.
This was my first time seeing the Front Bottoms. Opening with the dancey, sentimental fan-favorite, “Flashlight,” the Orlando audience erupted, displaying a clear fondness for the band with raised hands, crowd surfing and choir-like screaming of lyrics which remained constant throughout their entire set. “Please fall asleep, so I can take pictures of you and hang them in my room.”
They continued their set with the must-play-in-Florida song, “Backflip.” “I'll move to Florida, and I'll buy a brand new pick-up truck.” To my surprise, the lead singer, Brian, wielded an acoustic guitar the entire set. Surprising because they brought the rock so fucking hard. “We got a lot more blow-up things since we've been to Florida last,” Brian said in reference to their floor-fan powered stage props. Here’s a shitty pic:
I really want to see the Front Bottoms (TFB) cover a Frightened Rabbit song. Brian’s vocal melodies have many similarities to Frightened Rabbit’s Scottish lead singer, Scott Hutchinsons’. TFB, with their offerings of shameless off-key vocals and raw emotion layered upon overzealous indie pop-punk, attracts the kind of audience who takes loyal root. Their drummer, Matt, keeps the energy high throughout their performance with solid whips to his one crash cymbal and hi-hats, and interesting displays of flashiness like throwing drumsticks across the stage during “Maps.” “Rock 'n’ Roll, Rock 'n’ Roll, you probably don’t understand what I mean.” “Au Revior” provides a pretty good live example of what it means to the Front Bottoms.
Their most popular song, “Twin Size Mattress,” is wistfulness at its best for a mid-20-year-old who’s a longtime fan of indie rock and clever lyrical wordplay. Especially with a subtle Brand New reference embedded in it (who sold out their show at HOB Orlando in what seemed like 60 seconds despite the fact that they haven’t released a record in almost five years). We sang along “to the ‘Jaws Theme' swimming in the background ...” as TFB closed out their Orlando set.
With a band like Say Anything or Saves the Day, people tend to care less and less about what the actual lineup is, and more about their fixtured frontman. But holy shit, Fred Mascherino is a touring member of Say Anything right now! It was great seeing Fred, a familiar face who is best known for being in a few bands over the past decade like Breaking Pangaea, Terrible Things, the Color Fred, and this little band called Taking Back Sunday. Fred took lead guitar duties and delivered backup vocals for Say Anything's Max Bemis.
This made for a Say Anything show that was a little different than the normal “circus," although, it is simple fun not knowing what to expect each time you see the same band. Max mentioned in a Facebook post in mid-May that the upcoming touring members of Say Anything were “almost like an all-star lineup, and definitely people that I’m almost intimidated to share the stage with.” He also said, “All those guys are such great performers, they tend to rock out quite a bit, which jives with the circus that is a Say Anything show.”
There were a lot of new songs in the Orlando setlist from their 2014 release Hebrews. What would happen if the lead singers of Saves the Day, the Get Up Kids and Say Anything sang a song together? It would sound like the last 45 seconds of the opening track of Say Anything’s new album Hebrews and be called “John Mcclane.” It’s no barbershop trio, but it sure is chalk full of emo greatness.
In addition to Hebrews songs, Say Anything mixed in a good amount of tunes Orlando was eager to hear like “Spider Song,” “Baby Girl, I’m a Blur,” and “Cemetery.” The crowd peaked out my audio mic on my Galaxy S4 during my recording of “Cemetery.”
Each member of Say Anything had a smile across their faces between bouncy onstage dances. They likely fed off the rowdy audience who was climbing over one another, yelling lyrics towards Max as he pointed the mic at fans. Here’s a shitty pic:
Powerful singalongs from bands you love almost cause you to forget how shitty the sound is at the Beacham for a minute. The Beacham is actually a raked theater, meaning the floor slants down toward the stage like Plaza Live. However, the Beacham owners decided to build a wooden floor to level out the downward slant, thus eliminating its “raked” feature and possibly affecting the sound. Next time you’re in there, near the stage, know that you’re not standing on the original floor and don’t jump too hard.
“Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too” is a song difficult not to dance to. If you’re familiar, try to contain yourself from finishing the line, “If I die and go to hell real soon ” Say Anything ended their set with this 2006 classic and Orlando sang. Loud.
Max came back out solo with an acoustic guitar to play the first two songs of the encore. He began with one of my favorites, "I Want to Know Your Plans." I've thought about those lyrics many of nights spent with now-exes, “I want to know your plans, and how involved in them I am.” “No more fighting; this is all just a waste of our time.” Max performed this song acoustically prior to going into the Old Dirty Bastard cover of “Got Your Money.”
Max’s concrete straight face and punctuated delivery got a greater majority of the audience singing the words, “Hey, dirt-y baby, I got your money, don’t you worry.” It made for a difficult time keeping my laughter suppressed. Yes, Max, you got Orlando’s money, and it appeared to be worth every red cent.
The entire band came back onstage to perform one last song, "Belt." As the first song I heard when I slipped the Is A Real Boy CD in, “Belt” was a longtime fan’s best song to close the night with. “What say you and all your friends step up to my friends in the alley tonight? Yeah!” They still play it just as hard as they did in this 2006 video with Jesse Lacey and John Nolan coming on stage to sing the end.
Mitch Foster runs an Orlando music blog, Shows I Go To, where he documents the shit out of his favorite aspects of the local music scene.