by Mitch Foster
PIC (Need an awesome pic of the crowd with Say Anything in the background from Ian to go here)
There was a pulsating display of this Friday evening at House of Blues Orlando. Say Anything, Saves The Day, and Reggie & The Full Effect, all pulled out the tallest trophies in their case (an album that significantly boosted each of their respective careers). Say Anything performed ...Is A Real Boy in it's entirety, Saves The Day performed Through Being Cool from cover to cover, and Reggie & The Full Effect performed a set-heavy mix of songs from Under The Tray.... The two formers fall into the category of some of my personal favorites of the past decade and a half, I must add.
Reggie & The Full Effect opened the night in boastful hilarity, as they’re notorious for. There were people laughing so fucking hard throughout their set! I don’t think I’ve ever seen House of Blues that happy. Their stage banter and musicianship were even better than the last time I saw them, when they headlined at The Social earlier this year. (And I’m eating my words now for saying “It’s going to be hard to top that show’s lineup” in that review. I was wrong.)
“When I first wrote this song [F.O.O.D], I was 135lbs. Now that I’ve been playing this song for nearly 12 years, I’m at 235lbs. [Laughs]. My wife likes to call it ‘foreshadowing.’ I googled it.” Lead singer, James Dewees spills.
It’s good to know Reggie is just just as weird as ever. The two highlights of Reggie’s set was “F.O.O.D. AKA Aren’t You Hungry,” and “Love Reality,” where he stripped down to his “Sexy Cop” uniform (as seen above) and performed as his alter-ego, Fluxuation. Notable mentions: “Congratulations Smack And Katie” (which is one of my favorite tongue-in-cheeky videos), and the ever-loving, fan-favorite “Get Well Soon.”
It must be said that the sound was nearly perfect during Reggie & The Full Effect’s set. The drums were the right amount of loud. And, even though I’m a drummer, I don’t find this next statement biased: When a drum kit is tuned perfectly and you can hear it clearly, it makes everything sound better. Ok, maybe a little biased, but also true.
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An empty futon served as Saves The Day’s backdrop banner. A futon that once held five incurious teenagers at a party on the cover of their 1999 album, Through Being Cool. Much has changed since then. By “much” I mean almost everything. The only remaining member since the album’s release is lead singer, Chris Conley. At the time of the release, the band was a five-piece; Conley having sole vocal responsibilities. Now, as a four-piece and fifteen years of lineup changes later, Conley plays guitar while maintaining vocal duties, which impedes him from running around the stage freely like he once did. Regardless, Conley and his band didn’t miss a single beat, steadily rocking through their entire 1999 release like a fine tuned machine.
Saves The Day is a band I’ll always hold dear to my heart. However, I speculate Conley doesn’t connect with the lyrics on Through Being Cool the same way he may have when he was 16 years old, but it’s respectable that he still gets up there every night and belts them out. They moved so quickly through songs, it was almost exhausting to keep up with the back-to-back jams, you know, that good kind of exhaustion. I think the only place I saw more crowd surfers at a show this year was at Warped Tour. Fans were getting as high as they could at the top of others while yelling the words to their favorite STD songs.
PIC - Of Saves The Day
After mechanically moving through Through Being Cool, Conley and Co. bounced around other releases to make sure everyone in that sweaty room received exactly what they wanted. During the song “Get Fucked Up,” they broke into a jam featuring “Hotel California,” which was a surprise, but well received.
The last time I saw Saves The Day play a club show, they performed 30 songs to a sold out audience. This time they performed a concise 20, including my three favorite Saves The Day songs of all-time: 1. “Jessie & My Whetstone.” 2. “You Vandal.” 3. (Tied) “A Drag In D Flat” and “Sell My Old Clothes, I’m Off To Heaven.” Here’s a video I caught on the Shows I Go To Instagram (there are a ton of other videos from this show on there).
What a perfect setlist, too. It’s strange how all the words to some songs seem to come out involuntary, even if you haven’t sung them in some time. I suppose that’s what many refer to as a “true-connection;” Something unforgettable. Saves The Day delivered another night that I won't soon forget.
“I was ready to go home after Saves The Day. I thought ‘how could this get any better?’” My friend Trevor recalls to me his thoughts between Saves The Day and Say Anything.
Well, it didn’t get better. It just got different. Different, and just as fucking good.
“Belt” by Say Anything has one of the most interesting progressions in an “emo rock” song that I can think of (yes, “emo,” go on, ruffle those feathers). Shit, the entire ...Is A Real Boy album is all over the place! It’s practically built on mathematical tempo changes and chant-worthy choruses.
Say Anything recorded ...Is A Real Boy as a two piece: Max Bemis was responsible for vocals, guitar, bass, and keyboards, and Coby Linder for drums and percussion. This band has went through almost as many lineup changes as Saves The Day. However Saves The Day has remained fairly consistent over the past few years whereas Say Anything keeps rotating incredible musicians on the road as touring members. Last time, it was Fred Mascherino (ex-Taking Back Sunday). this time it was Kenny Bridges from the Canadian band Moneen. Holy shit! Kenny glued that show together! Take this jump-kick of his in the song “Belt” as a first example.
I was especially stoked that Parker Case was present at this show. Case has been a part of Say Anything, off and on, ever since shortly after ...Is A Real Boy was released. It was good to see him there in all his self-aggrandizing glory. ;)
I still can’t fucking believe they played every song on that album. I was especially stoked to hear "Yellow Cat (Slash) Red Cat." The kids in the pit raged for what seemed like years. I assumed it’d be too hard for me to drive myself between them and I would never risk the scratch, so I stayed firmly planted at my usual spot behind the soundboard at the bottom of the stairs holding my emo-beer with my cuffed denim pants and brown boots.
Say Anything performed 11 of the 12 songs from ...Is A Real Boy in order from “Belt” to “I Want To Know Your Plans.” Then, they turned to the bonus disc ...Was A Real Boy, and performed, what I consider their most commercially successful song, “Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too,” and two others from that disc, “Little Girls” and “Most Beautiful Plague.”
I believe a lot of people were so turned on by ...Is A Real Boy and ...Was A Real Boy, because the lyrics were so blunt and brutally honest filled with angst, carefully layered upon interesting arrangements. There’s certainly nothing else like it that I’m familiar with, only feeble imitations exist.
Congratulations are due to Bemis who subtly announced that he has another child on the way, through half-jokingly, half-seriously stage banter: “I wrote this song when I was seventeen. Now, I’m 19 (there’s the jokingly part). It’s been a HUGE two years. I’m married, have a child, and another on the way.” (Congrats Max.)
Say Anything left the stage after the sampling from ...Was A Real Boy, knowing that the dripping crowd would chant until they received what they wanted: the last song from ...Is A Real Boy, “Admit It.” Only this would leave us full and satisfied as the words of that song can only be belted out at full volume. I remember I used play "Admit It" as loud as my red Ford Ranger's speakers would go, driving around "horse country" in Ocala to and from work, concerts, and college. When they gave us what we begged for, it sunk in, heavily, right in place, to me and the 2,499 other dripping members of the choir.
At the end of "Admit It," Say Anything ended their set in a bit of chaos, as they should, I suppose. Bemis’s brother-in-law, Bassist Garron DuPree, jumped down into the crowd for a ride at the end of “Admit It,” but he lost his bass guitar to the crowd when he was swallowed whole. Once the bass made it back to the stage (thanks to security), guitarist Kenny Bridges ceased the opportunity to pick that thing up, and proceed to strap in, lean back, and rock the fuck out (example No. 2 why he was so badass).
At that point Bemis laid down for a quick nap, drummer Reed Murray took instagram pictures of the crowd, then joined Bridges for an extended Drum & Bass jam sesh (in a literal sense) for a few mins. When Bemis awoke, he crawled down into the pit to share sweat with everyone, passed out hugs, then disappeared into backstage. Yeah, that’s how Say Anything ends a set.
The reason why this tour is even happening is because these bands created something great and extremely sticky over a decade ago. Their fans, like me, related to the music; the lyrics. And they haven’t lost their personal touch. Yes, you can say it’s “nostalgic,” but, it’s really deeper than that to me and I’d bet it is to a bunch of others in that room, too, if I were a betting man. When I hear the sounds, I feel like I belong. Like I’m part of some club that started all those years ago that I hold a lifetime membership to. Almost esoteric, even. Friday night was just a meeting of the Orlando chapter of that club. And, we sang our anthems, we recited our pledges, we spoke our lines, all on queue, because we still know them by heart. All of them.
At times, we even knew our places better than our ultimate leader, Max Bemis. When Bemis fell behind, we quickly reminded him of his place and he concurred, pointing the mic towards us for continuance. At which point, we all screamed to ensure we were heard. We put our hands up to make sure we were seen. We moved together in a tightly knit pit to make it known that, we were an army; a hellacious force and one to be reckoned with.
Thank you for bleeding so bright, Orlando. For the second time in thirty days, in fact. (The first being the Brand New show on Oct 24). It's safe to say that we have a good thing going in this town.
Mitch Foster worries about how this review will do because he believes it will determine the amount of sex he will have in the future. He also runs an Orlando Music Blog, Shows I Go To, where he documents the shit out of his favorite aspects of the local music scene.