Under the Stars Spotlight: Say Anything at The Starland Ballroom

Date: July 2, 2014

By Adam Romero
Editing by Katelyn Fatzler

On Friday, the LA emo/pop punk band Say Anything headed to New Jersey to play in front of a sold out crowd at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, New Jersey. This tour marked the live debut of several songs off Say Anything's newest album Hebrews, which has received mixed reviews from several different critics. On this tour, Say Anything was accompanied by You Blew It!, The So-So-Glos and The Front Bottoms.

The Orlando native band, You Blew It!, started the night revealing their budding talent. They are an up-and-coming band and from their set it became extremely apparent how much potential this band has. In total, they played seven songs with their guitarist Andy Anaya shredding throughout the set. You Blew It! has so much energy, they even reappeared during following sets throughout the night. They have announced that they are releasing an album covering Weezer's Blue Album entitled You Blue It. (You have to give them credit for the pun.)

Up next was the band of brothers: The So-So Glos, a Brooklyn band that has been making music together since 1991. Of the bands performing on Friday, The So-So Glos has a particular sound that stood out the most in comparison to their tour mates. Their folk punk edge stood out while being completely surrounded by pop punk bands and fans alike. They played for about 30 minutes, holding the crowd down until The Front Bottoms took the stage. The So-So Glos will be on tour with The Hold Steady in the UK during fall of 2014 and are currently working on a new album.

From the reactions of the crowd, it was clear that just as many people came to see The Front Bottoms as they did for Say Anything. Though The Front Bottoms were clearly hometown favorites, it was also apparent they were quickly making a name for themselves in the emo/pop punk scene. Mere mention of their name during the previous bands sets sent the crowd into an uproar of cheers. Their sets often consist of inflatables and wacky, waving inflatable tube men to add to the accessibility of their catchy and well written songs. Au Revoir, The Beers, and Twin Size Mattress were undoubtedly crowd favorites, as chants of the choruses for each song echoed throughout the venue. The Front Bottoms recently released their EP Rose on June 17, 2014.

Finally, the main event took the stage. When Say Anything appeared after the party-like antics of the Front Bottoms, it was soon obvious that they were worth the anticipation of over three and a half hours. It is noteworthy that an impetus for Max Bemis, front man and songwriter of Say Anything, while writing their latest album Hebrews, was to show his listeners that he still has what it takes to live up to the caliber of his songwriting. The point he was trying to make could be understood through Say Anything opening with a single off their new album: Six Six Six. Bemis was trying to make a statement as to what Say Anything is, a band that will grow and change. This is not to say that he left long-time Say Anything fans in the dark, as after the energetic new single Say Anything charged into a strong transition of Spidersong -a personal favorite off Say Anything's first full album …Is A Real Boy.

This trend continued as guitarists, Jake and Jeff Turner, continued into The Writhing South, a performance that showcased the energy that surely had to remind others that this band was still the same, even if different in many ways. Say Anything did not simply stick to those two albums; they played a myriad of their hits from all of their albums. Crowd favorites were Do Better, Hebrews, and Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too. Say Anything's performance of Hebrews included guest vocalist, Brian Sella of The Front Bottoms. Similarly to when Sella first took the stage, the crowd again went crazy when he joined Say Anything.

After playing a lengthy set of 15 songs, Say Anything has more to give the crowd. To start off their encore performance, Max Bemis came back on stage with his acoustic guitar and performed both Spores and I Want to Know Your Plans. Fans chanted along after Bemis explained the intimate nature of these songs, which was a moment that any fan of this genre of music would appreciate. Say Anything finished off their encore celebrating new and old fans alike. Bemis expressed his love of the Jersey Hardcore punk scene with the surprisingly heavy and fast track Boyd off their latest album, Hebrews. The night was then capped off with Belt, a song that expressed the unity of the Say Anything fan base. The lyrics "Yeah, what say you and all your friends meet all of my friends in the alley tonight?" became alive while hundreds chanted the words at the same time.

If you have never seen Say Anything perform live, it is a must if you are a fan of any work the band has released. They are one of the few bands that actually improves during a live performance. Whether you dig their new sound or not, nothing compares to the energy Say Anything brings to the stage.

Posted in: WSOU Exclusive, Show Review