words: Katie Wighton // photos: Rick Clifford @rcstills
“…while it's been 15 years since this record came out, this music is clearly still very important to the people in this room.”
So. Full disclosure. Heavy music is not really my thing. And while Taking Back Sunday is not actually that heavy, the same could definitely not be said for their support band, Outright. That being said, I can get onboard with a feminist front singer who opens the set screaming “I'm strong as steel!” This band is clearly quite politically minded, citing Nina Simone as an inspiration to them. The lead singer implores us to take a stand and fight back.
And while I'll be honest and say that I cannot actually understand the lyrics because she's screaming and also the drums were QUITE loud, I really do appreciate the sentiment. They all dance around the stage and give their entire bodies to the music – I'm actually quite impressed there aren't any injuries. This band is bloody passionate and they are STOKED to be supporting TBS – just like the crowd is stoked to be here.
Taking Back Sunday walk on stage to a huge cry of joy from the audience. All the little emo kids who have grown up into suit-wearing, glasses-sporting adults have come back here to re-live their youth. The whole crowd screams the lyrics as Adam Lazarra does his signature move – swinging the mic around and around and catching it with total ease. They are playing both their 2004 album, ‘Where You Want To Be’ and 2006’s ‘Louder Now’ back to back in full, which the crowd are right into it. There’s a sea of hands in the air for their second song, Bonus Mosh Pt. II and the folks in front of us are warming up; jumping up and down and with smiles from ear to ear.
This band write pretty killer melodies, some of which I know will be stuck in my head tomorrow morning. Adam tells us stories and manages to de-bunk the idea that heavy rock is dominated by bravado. He seems genuinely humbled by the audience's presence and tells us so at every opportunity. Even saying “You know, you're cheering, but there's a part of me that's like 'Oh I hope you like it...!'”
Every now and then he disappears to the back of the stage to sing through a megaphone or whack some cool effects on his voice. They're going to a lot of effort to re-create the sound of this record and the audience is loving it.
The groove in This Photograph Is Proof is really truly amazing. The drummer plays with his entire body. The kick drum is spot on as are the lyrics “I died on the table with everything you said.” Ooft. The crowd reaches out to the band as if to touch them and while it's been 15 years since this record came out, this music is clearly still very important to the people in this room.
During New American Classic – one of their more quite, emotional numbers – a lone cigarette lighter can be seen in the hands of an audience member down the front. It sways gently from side to side, showing the audience's age – it's not an iphone flashlight after all.
Number Five With a Bullet sees the audience clapping along and I start thinking that these guys are the emo equivalent of The Backstreet Boys. Perhaps that doesn't seem like a compliment but it is. They're amazing musicians, they're performance is tight. They love their audience and their audience is OBSESSSED with them.
Their set is so incredibly high energy and I'm bloody amazed they've got it in them. Lead guitarist John Nolan and Adam take turns on lead vocals which I am super into. Their harmonies are brilliant too. They've clearly been doing this together for a long long time.
They get to MakeDamnSure and the women in front of me who have been getting progressively more excited just about lose their minds. They're screaming the lyrics into each other's faces and jumping up and down. It's such a joy to watch and strangely these women in their late 20s somehow look 14 again.
They play several of their more recent tunes from Louder Now before the set concludes, much to the obvious disappointment of the audience who scream for more. They haven't played You're So Last Summer or Cute Without the E so it's no wonder they come back on for a final hurrah. Just when I thought the peeps in front of me couldn't get more enthusiastic, it happens. They're jumping on the couches and really truly losing their tiny minds. I can't help but be infected by their joy and I find myself dancing around as if I also loved this band as a pimple-faced teen.
The reaction of the crowd to this nostalgic music gets me thinking after the show. Those formative teenage years are full of precious memories and the music that accompanies them becomes equally as important. The band themselves can see that and they're so grateful they were privileged enough to be a part of people's memories and lives. Taking Back Sunday really were and continue to be, an impressive act and after that show I'm sure the same folks will come out to see them next time they return.