Taking Back Sunday, Envy On The Coast, and Anberlin REVIEW

::EDIT:: Thanks so much for featuring this on the Taking Back Sunday myspace blog and on the TBS main page!! I am so grateful! -c.

What's the best way to start a set? Taking Back Sunday certainly are logical when they start at the beginning, with "You Know How I Do", the first track from their debut album, "Tell All Your Friends"- certainly an ace choice for the crowd that gathered for them in Cincinnati on May 15th: a crowd that appreciated the old tunes with fierce intensity and reveled in the new, moshed with all their might to the well-known as well as to the obscure.
Taking Back Sunday hit the jackpot with this audience and they knew it, especially when we the crowd, as a screaming mass, yelled back the lyrics to their songs louder than they had been sung to us, causing lead singer Adam Lazzara to grin, praise us appreciatively, shake his head in amazement, and even topple over from his crouching position saying, "I'm supposed to be up here looking all cool, but here I am, grinning like a mu'fucker." Bassist Matt Rubano described the crowd's energy in shock and with a smile as he announced during the encore, "It's hot as Brazil in here, and you guys are still acting like it's the first song."

We killed it. The band killed it harder.

But much happened before this that needs to be explained. That's just a taste to tide you over.

First, there were two dedicated girls who left my dorm in Athens, Ohio at 4AM in the dark and fog, getting lost along their way to Cincinnati, and panicking that their front-of-the-line spots would be far-gone by the time they arrived there at 7AM. Those two dedicated girls, my friend Emily and I, were lucky enough to procure their spots in line with hours of waiting before anyone else happened to show up at all. Lucky, yet scared in the shady, little Cincinnati neighborhood.

In the middle of the UC campus, yet in it's own little realm, Bogart's Showcase Club sits on a not-so-inviting strip of shady places with lingering shady people. Yes, this is the same Bogart's near where T.I.'s friend was shot. Anything for the band, though, right?

A few hours after getting in line, Taking Back Sunday drummer Mark O'Connell and guitarist Eddie Reyes walked by, seeing us and looking concerned. "What are you guys doing out here?! It's dangerous," said Eddie, his eyes wide as if searching us for our mental hospital bracelets and slips with our written death-wishes. "Waiting in line for you guys" was all I could reply with a fearless smile chased with a sip of my life-sustaining orange Gatorade. Fun times. Throughout the day, Ed and Mark walked by several times, making short friendly conversation with the line-waiters. Later in the day, new guitarist Matt Fazzi, accompanied by bassist Matt Rubano came out to talk to us. Unfortunately, I had been off trying to find a clean bathroom for the majority of their conversation with my line-made friends who informed me that the two were searching for the nearest Panera Bread and the bassist was sharing stories of seeing a person once drive past this venue and punch a woman in his passenger seat in his face, another warning about the neighborhood. My contribution to the conversation was an "Oh hi" when I walked up, resuming my line place, an "Oh hi" that was returned with cheesy humor by Rubano as, "Oh hi... O. O-hi-o."

Taking Back Sunday are, by no means, an extremely small band, so it was amazing to see the members being so casual with their fans, addressing us as if we were old friends, and simply hanging out. At one point, Eddie even came out to ask for a light from those of us in line, which humored me a lot.

So, we continued line-waiting, stressed when the venue decided to open two doors, then finally our bodies crashed into barricade and, soon:

Envy on the Coast
Made of music...

I wrote about these guys live before when I last saw them with Taking Back Sunday in December. These dudes, a fellow product of the Long Island scene from which TBS rose, were asked - once again- to tour with TBS and, from my previous taste of the Envy live experience, I was excited to see them again. In my last review, I don't think I was able to capture exactly what it is that Envy brings to the stage, but it clicked to me this time. These guys really love the music they're playing, and use themselves to physically manifest the music. This is most apparent in lead singer Ryan Hunter's erratic mouth-twitches, serpentine and primal, vigorous movements. Flailing in ways that would hurt other human beings, Hunter becomes the music, fully embodies the energy of it and makes movements akin to violent seizures or energy explosions. Such animalistic, controlled-by-music movements are stunning to see, especially when one, a mere hour before the barefooted demon of energy graces the stage, saw the same person, in human form, walking calmly behind the venue. Even if one is not sure of the lyrics to their songs, these guys are sure to persuade your heart to pound out the beat with them. Phenomenal.

"I love my life..."

There is a first time for everything, and this just so happened to be my first time seeing Anberlin or really even paying attention to them at all, for that matter. I had attempted to listen to the music on their myspace page before attending the show, but none of their songs could hold my attention. Their live performance was nothing spectacular either. There was a drum overload that drowned out the rest of the band, making both the vocals and the sound samples used in their songs inaudible. The band, however, seemed sincere in their performance, and I think the positivity of their set can be summed up in something lead singer Stephen Christian uttered: "I love my life..." The singer went on to explain that it has always been his dream to be able to play with Taking Back Sunday and the sincerity behind his smile as the band played made me thoroughly believe him. Dreams come true. Beautiful.

Taking Back Sunday
"I'm right here. Just be here with me."

By the time headliners Taking Back Sunday were about to take the stage, the crowd had moved and wrestled itself into a contorted mass resting within an environment akin to a sauna. Hot, compressed, and full of pent-up energy, crowd-members trembled and shifted in a unified mass of anticipation for the main attraction. The crowd roared, screamed, and used any appendages they could salvage from between bodies to express their enthusiasm as Taking Back Sunday took the stage.

Starting, as I mentioned at the beginning of this entry, with an oldie-but-goodie, TBS electroshocked life into their set and the pulses of their audience members who reacted with violent appreciation. They played three consecutive high-pace songs before saying a word of greeting, at which time they gave us the appreciative smiles of proud fathers, glad to see their audience-sons enjoying the gift they brought us. Adam Lazzara, lead singer of the band, encouraged us to stop watching the show through viewscreens. "I'm right here; just be here with me," he prompted, and the flashes of cameras obediently grew more sparse.

The band dispersed a fair amount of songs from each of their albums, including four songs from their upcoming release, "New Again". A rare treat that the Cincinnati crowd got to experience was the B-Side "Brooklyn", which the band did not previously opt to play live. Through the well-known singles as well as the lesser-known B-side, the audience maintained a powerful and rough energy, flailing and embodying the music the band provided as the singer of Envy on the Coast had before them. Lungs filled and expelled, past trembling vocal chords, the notes and lyrics the audience members so passionately loved. A moment of calm finally came during the encore when the band played "Everything Must Go", a heavily emotional song that ends their upcoming release. So emotional was the way singer Adam Lazzara presented this song that one simply had to stop and stare-- had to stop and feel the song. This is the same song that I mentioned in my previous TBS review that nearly had me in tears.

With a newly found energy, an apparent passion for their music, and an eagerness to interact with the audience, Taking Back Sunday provided one of the best performances I have yet to see from them. When I saw them for the first time a few years ago, I thought they were amazing, but now they are, as their album title suggests, "New Again" and better than ever. If you have the chance, absolutely go see a show on this tour. I highly recommend it.


PS: More blogs will come. Next time- picture blog!

Thank you for reading!


Shelly said…
You are an AMAZING writer! I stumbled on your TBS review from Myspace (how cool of them to blog about you,omg!!) and when I found out you are a music journalist I HAD to comment you. I am aspiring to be a music journalist too but i'm a lot older than you and it's not as easy to start out doing this when you're not fresh out of high school.

Anyway I just had to say I am very impressed with your writing and your musical taste (MCR especially,youre so lucky to have seen them,I haven't!)

I have a music website that I started basically to practice my writing skills and because I've always wanted to have a site about rock music, so check it out if you want, I could definately use some constructive criticism or any advice you could give me! http://music-that-rocks.com


Thank you so much!! :}

I'll definitely check out your work: it's always great to be able to talk to a fellow journalist!

Anonymous said…
Well done Cassie! Excellent work, I'm proud of you.
jenni said…
aaaawesome show review, it was great! it just makes me want to see them even more! they're the ONE band that i completely love, yet i haven't had a chance to see live! :( but i'm totally gonna try my hardest to catch them on tour this time around! :)
Anonymous said…
Wow Cassie, that was one of the best music reviews I have ever had the pleasure of reading. You are very passionate about music and it is obvious that you love writing because it really shows in the work you present on here. I eagerly look forward to reading more of your work. I loved it, keep up the epic work!

-RavenChaos21 (MCRmy)

Thank you so much for reading! I'll cross my fingers in hopes that you get to see them as soon as possible. :}

:'} Thank you so much. I'm glad that you're able to see that in my writing, and I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Unknown said…
Hey! Your blog is awesome! I see you're a Taking Back Sunday fan...we are doing PR for the band and wanted to inform you and your readers about their recently announced Cover Song Contest at www.tbscovercontest.com!

Thank you for the heads-up! I just saw the announcement on myspace. I could re-post it here if you'd like?


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