As Edge’s unofficial music aficionado, it shouldn’t surprise you that I have a list of favorite concerts I’ve attended:
1. Title Fight/Pianos Become the Teeth at the Smilin’ Moose, Pittsburgh, 2012
This was the most emotional and intense show I’ve ever attended. Listen to “Floral Green” right now.
2. Manchester Orchestra at Mr. Small’s, Pittsburgh, 2014
Manchester Orchestra was everything I hoped it would be and more live, even though the opening band (The Mowgli’s) was just an annoying group of hippies.
3. City and Colour at the House of Blues, Cleveland, 2013
A romantic experience for my lady friend and I last Valentine’s Day, this show was the perfect combination of full-band and solo acoustic material paired with an incredible light show. One of the strongest vocalists I’ve ever heard live.
4. Andrew W.K. at Warped Tour, Darien Lake, N.Y. 2010
Andrew W.K. had a female wrestler punch-dancing onstage while he rocked out on the keyboard, threw shirts into the crowd, pulled air fresheners out of his pants and demanded to “see a triangle pit.” I’m pretty sure the man is certifiably insane, and subsequently the most fun I’ve ever witnessed onstage.
Last Friday, I was finally able to catch my favorite band, Say Anything, perform their landmark album, “…Is a Real Boy,” at Stage AE in Pittsburgh. They were supported by two other scene favorites, Saves the Day and Reggie and the Full Effect, who also performed 10-year anniversary material, “Through Being Cool” and “Under the Tray.” Perhaps this seems like too much unnecessary detail, but it’s all relevant, because the show was likely the best live show I’ve ever seen.
It opened with Reggie and the Full Effect taking the stage dressed as “Santa and the Full Effect.” There’s something oddly surreal about seeing Santa’s elves getting down with some guitar chugs. The banter was hilarious and the crowd watched them blow through hit after hit, including song of the century “F.O.O.D. AKA Aren’t You Hungary” – you read that right. The set ended with a particularly intimate rendition of “Love Reality” by frontman James Dewees’ British alter ego, Fluxation, complete with a skimpy cop outfit and Ugg boots. I have the video to prove it.
Saves the Day was a spectacle and arguably most important band of the night depending on who you ask, but their set eventually grew tired as they played 15-plus songs from the band’s punk beginnings to their current place as an alternative/pop-punk act. Chris Conley’s high-pitched vocal range quickly became monotonous throughout a set that unfortunately lacked energy. This, paired with two minutes of ear-splitting feedback between each song, made for a frustrating set, despite the band tearing through their coolest album – see what I did there? – and playing scattered fan favorites, including “At Your Funeral” and “Anywhere With You.”
Finally, it came time for the main event. Say Anything’s set began as they walked out to the classic “…Is a Real Boy” introduction, a recording between frontman Max Bemis and his dad.
“I have to record the spoken word introduction to the record.”
“Yeah. It’s only a few lines, but I’m having anxiety about it.”
“Do you know what it is?”
“Yeah, it goes—”
“Good, so you don’t have to write it. Oh yeah, let me hear it.”
“It goes, ‘And the record begins with a song of rebellion.’”
“And the show begins with a song of rebellion.”
Just like that, the band ripped through the entirety of the album, plus its B-sides, with an energy I’m not sure anyone expected. They sounded tighter than ever, even when the frontman began to lose his voice toward the end of the show – it’s a long tour, all right. The band was energetic, running around the stage and even getting into the crowd for some of their time. The best songs were actually the ones known not to be played until this tour, including “Chia-Like, I Shall Grow” and “Metal Now.” Of course, the crowd went crazy for their biggest single, “Alive With the Glory of Love,” as well as the album’s scathing closer, “Admit It!”
I left the show feeling like it was a surreal experience. Everything about the songs that changed the way I listened to music growing up felt rejuvenated. I couldn’t get them out of my head, and I didn’t want to. It reminded me why Say Anything always has been, and likely will be, my favorite band. It inspired me to grab my guitar and play around with a few new songs of my own. And most importantly, it reminded me of why I’ve grown to love music (and writing) so much.