Concert Review: Say Anything (Detroit, MI)

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Photo by Natalie Bisignano

The millennial emo icons in Say Anything are currently touring in support of their latest record, I Don’t Think It Is. Max Bemis and company’s tour came to The Crofoot in Pontiac, Michigan, with support from Museum Mouth, Teen Suicide, and mewithoutYou on May 8th, 2016.

Museum Mouth kicked off the event. If you don’t know them, you probably will soon. The fresh pop punk trio recently signed to Max Bemis’ Rory Records imprint and this concert was my first exposure to them. I was a huge pop-punk fan growing up and in my adolescents, but have become jaded in recent years from the oversaturation and lack of originality in the genre. This was not the case with Museum Mouth. Did they do for me what The Wonder Years did in the late 2000s that pulled pop-punk out of the neon era? No. Still, Museum Mouth came through with some fresh sounds and original topics, which is a nice change of pace in a world of The Story So Far clones littering the Warped Tour scene. Like I said, it’s still pop-punk, the songs are catchy as hell and the instrumentation forces you to at least bob your head happily. Make sure you show up early to catch these fresh faces out!

Teen Suicide followed shortly after. This band could easily be seen as the black sheep of the tour, even with the diversity of sound this tour carries. I’ve been a fan of the low-fi emo outfit for a while now, and have seen them live on one other occasion with Pity Sex and Alex G. Fans of Say Anything’s early work could appreciate the dark humor and bleakness of Teen Suicide’s music, most notably on the song “Alex” which they have been playing on this tour, and is a personal favorite of mine. The way vocalist Sam Ray almost apathetically croons “She says she wants to die/She buys a gram of coke/She doesn’t want to die” while unmistakable for any other band than Teen Suicide, reminds me of the darker moments on Say Anything’s …Is a Real Boy that I enjoyed so much. Teen Suicide’s most recent album, It’s The Big Joyous Celebration, Let’s Stir the Honeypot, saw the band expanding their horizons with new sounds and dynamics that really add a new dimension to the band, which I felt added so much to their live performance. While the last time I saw them I enjoyed them standing completely still, whereas here, I not only bobbed my head, I jumped! Never thought I’d do that at a Teen Suicide gig.

mewithoutYou served as direct support for this tour, and man, do they put on a show! I’ve always been tangentially aware of mewithoutYou as they have always been associated with other bands that I listen to. While I know a few songs, I never dived very deep into their discography, so my knowledge of them is limited. And that’s a shame on my part, as they are an incredible band. I may not have heard a lot of their material on record, but from what I heard it feels like their music is meant to be heard live. The heavy, aggressive, almost militant percussion they use commands much more than head bobbing. Most songs had fans clapping to the beat, shouting the lyrics back, and jumping like there was no tomorrow. Apart from the kinetic energy they produce, I admire the band’s use of non-traditional rock instruments they bring to their live show, namely an accordion, something I haven’t seen since my celtic punk days or Panic! At the Disco’s first album. Their live set definitely encouraged me to go back and check out their music, which probably would not have happened anytime soon if I hadn’t, which thank god for that. Congrats, mewithoutYou, you earned a fan in this writer.

While every band that played tonight had their share of fans there to see them, it was clear that everyone obviously wanted to see Say Anything. They are the main attraction, after all. Max & co. kicked off their set with “Give a Damn” off their new record, I Don’t Think It Is. The band would play four songs off the new album throughout the set, and while I did not like the new album whatsoever, I will admit that the songs made a lot more sense being heard live and were not as jarring on the ears.

Longtime Say Anything fans need not fret, however, as the band played a pretty extensive set covering almost all bases of their career. Like with the new record, they also performed four songs from their breakout record, …Is a Real Boy, as well as another four off their self-titled record. A few songs from In Defense of the Genre, Hebrews, and even Anarchy My Dear were sprinkled in for good measure. That’s what I’ve always admired about going to Say Anything shows. If you’re a fan, you’re always in for a treat. The band is excellent at pleasing all fans by picking a fair setlist that represents the entire span of their career, while throwing in some deep cuts to go the extra mile for the fans. This was my fourth time seeing Say Anything live and I have rarely heard the same song twice. Their live set is full of so many surprises that I will not spoil, it’s hard to leave disappointed.
This Say Anything tour stop was one of the most fun concerts I have been to in 2016. While I am a little biased as they are one of my favorite bands of all time, you can take my word for it. Say Anything continues to deliver a powerful live show more than a decade later and show no signs of slowing down. Not to mention their consistent choice of excellent supporting bands! Go to this tour, and get there early, you might find your new favorite band! (Johnny Athey)

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