|Photo by: takingbacksunday.com|
The dingy college bar was exactly what a person would expect: cramped, dark and sticky. Actually, the floor was so sticky it was comparative to a glue trap. This proved to be helpful for fans considering it was near impossible to fall over, which was definitely a risk factor during the band’s set.
The soulful and funky Bad Rabbits opened the show. With four out of the five band members being first-generation Americans with heritages from all over the world, the group played to their strengths as a cultural melting pot of musical genres.
The most notable feature of the group was their ability to get down and bust a move. Vocalist Dua Boakye and guitarists Salim Akram and Santi Araujo's in-sync shuffle, as well as Boakye and Akram’s foot jive made the audience want to start line-dancing in the best way possible.
However, the energy and entertainment brought to the stage by Bad Rabbits was quelled by a subdued set by The Maine.
Although The Maine’s fans--and fangirls--were certainly in attendance, there was a clear division between the audience and what band they came to see. This schism made the fivesome’s performance either a hit or a miss with the crowd. Unfortunately for me, it was a miss.
The highlight of the Arizona quintet’s performance was easily bassist Garrett Nickelsen and his haphazard dancing. With no barrier separating the crowd from the stage, anyone in the front row of the show at one point feared for their life as his bass, legs and feet constantly were hovering over their heads, threatening to crash down on them. Disaster nearly struck in the form of a mic stand narrowly hitting a few audience members on the head but was thankfully avoided.
If it wasn’t for Nickelsen, the band’s set would’ve most likely been more ho-hum, given the watered-down performance of their typically sunny music. The rendition of “We’ll All Roll Along” went from a poppy, nostalgic song about high school to a dragging funeral dirge.
However, if there’s one effort The Maine deserved applause for, it was their care for their fans. As their set was dying down, each member took care to distribute guitar picks, drum sticks and setlists to the screaming girls at their feet.
The second The Maine’s fans evacuated the front rows, a rush of Taking Back Sunday fans swelled the area. What had been a relatively calm show, quickly turned into pushing and shoving, with fans vying for spot against the stage.
There’s something about a natural chemistry between the band members that just cannot be forced. It’s the lazy way they banter with each other and subtle gestures and nods shared that make the audience feel that they are truly witnessing something special. It’s this chemistry that made all previous line-ups of Taking Back Sunday second rate. Being able to watch the five men interact on stage is in itself witnessing a form of artistic expression--it just feels right.
Taking Back Sunday drew most of the setlist from albums the original line-up wrote and completely ignored the un-popular New Again, and fans appeared to be more than happy with their decision. With a mixture of their new, self-titled release and the cult-classic Tell All Your Friends, they allowed fans new and old an opportunity to shout the lyrics of their favorite TBS song.
Halfway through the performance, they also included a cover of Straylight Run’s “Existentialism on Prom Night,” a track solidifying itself as a show staple and fan favorite. The combination of frontman Adam Lazzara’s soulful voice crooning out the lyrics with guitarist and back-up vocalist John Nolan at the keyboard allowed the audience to take a breath before plunging back into the high-energy world that has the crowd screaming the lyrics until hoarse.
The only detraction from the set was towards the end when Lazzara went missing for a few tracks. The singer has made it a habit to walk around the venue while performing, going back towards the bar to interact with fans. However, this time the fans weren’t too keen on letting him get back.
Not saying that the performance Nolan, drummer Mark O’Connell, bassist Shaun Cooper and guitarist Eddie Reyes put on was less than satisfactory, but after three full songs without viewing the man with the mic, it got frustrating. Lazzara didn’t even finish the last song, “Cute Without The ‘E’ (Cut From The Team)” on stage.
In 1999, when Taking Back Sunday first formed, the band quickly became well-known due to their energetic and inspiring live performances. Twelve years later, they continue to swing mics and close each show with a sweaty and satisfied crowd.
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