By Phil Pucci
November 27, 2014
Outside of The Fillmore before both co-headlining bands began, an acquaintance of mine named Mikey canvassed my group of friends: “Are you guys going to leave after Saves the Day?” And then without hesitation, he offered, “I’m going to leave after Saves the Day.” I mentioned that I was going to stay for Say Anything, but before I could get all the words out, he had excused himself from the conversation because he’d found his friends. All day Monday I’d been wondering if there really was that much of a divide between Saves the Day and Say Anything fans. I had one kid’s answer.
On paper, the two bands aren’t terribly different—Saves the Day and Say Anything are both pop-punk bands on Equal Vision Records with an affinity for all things macabre. Both bands’ front men are friends and have collaborated musically, and both bands have toured together numerous times in the past. But consider that the pivotal albums which each band are celebrating the anniversary of were released five years apart—Saves the Day’s Through Being Cool was released in 1999 and Say Anything’s …Is a Real Boy was released in 2004. Consider that many of Say Anything’s already youthful audience weren’t even ten years old when Saves the Day were at their height of popularity.
There was indeed a lot of shifting of bodies on the floor of The Fillmore in between bands on Monday night.
Saves the Day performed first for this stop of the co-headlining tour, and tore through songs from Through Being Cool with the efficiency of a band that has been doing this for a couple decades. Vocalist and guitarist Chris Conley appeared to be completely disconnected from the audience. It was unclear to me whether it was because he was enveloped in his passion for playing music, or for completely opposite reasons. The band rarely paused between songs for longer than a few seconds, and Chris Conley only addressed the Charlotte crowd once or twice to thank us for coming.
Regardless, for the first half of the performance, the audience ate up the nostalgic offerings from the band, screaming the lyrics, crowd surfing and raising their hands in the air every time the music halted for classic one-liners like “Heart is on the floor! / Why don’t you step on it?” from “Rocks Tonic Juice Magic.” Sweaty faces pushed through me to get back up to the pit as the show progressed. Through Being Cool is very much so a time capsule for so many of us in our 20s who remember being punk-ass teenagers. We were young and stupid, loved escaping our perfectly nice suburban homes to go to local shows, and were all in love with people who didn’t love us back. And we had LiveJournal posts and AIM logs to prove it. “If I could somehow make you mine…”
There was a clear change of pace as Saves the Day started playing material from the latter years of their discography. Hardly a soul moved. Conley closed his eyes as he sang “Get Fucked Up” and “Anywhere With You,” perhaps to shield himself further from his fans, who stood silent during the songs they were completely unfamiliar with. After 2001’s wildly successful Stay What You Are, the band’s lineup underwent a complete overhaul and their sound & Conley’s voice became tamer. Fans checked out for this portion of the set. But the quartet ended their performance on a high note with fan favorite “Sell My Old Clothes, I’m Off to Heaven,” and the audience wildly cheered after the last words of the second chorus, “To hell with you / to hell with you / to hell with you!”
Say Anything took the stage at around ten o’clock with very deliberate energy. The opening spoken-word track from …Is a Real Boy played over the PA, totally obscured by the raucous cheers from the audience. Then Max Bemis took to the microphone to make a small alteration to the end of the recording: “And the show beings with a song of rebellion!” The band launched into “Belt” and ran around the stage with reckless abandon. Within the first minute of the song, guitarist Parker Case had fallen over multiple times and the receiver for his in-ear monitor fell out of his back pocket. He waved off a guitar tech who tried to place it back on his person and ran across the stage to play a chord in his bandmates’ faces.
Bemis connected with concertgoers in a purposeful way. Say Anything have always demanded closeness and community among their fans. …Is a Real Boy is the prime example of this: It’s an album that flips the mirror on “artists” who wage war against “normals.” When the band played “Admit It!!!” this sentiment rang true: “When you walk by a group of quote-unquote normal people / You chuckle to yourself, patting yourself on the back as you scoff / It’s the same superiority complex shared by the high school jocks who made your life a living hell!” In keeping this in mind, I was reminded that it doesn’t matter which of the two bands I was most connected with ten years ago. Sometimes you get to go to a concert and see two energetic bands play their classic albums and it doesn’t matter so much which side you’re on. That I was so weary of these “sides” probably means I could stand to take a step back and appreciate music for its most rewarding pleasures.
Listen to Saves the Day’s latest self-titled album
Listen to Hebrews by Say Anything