Say Anything, Manchester Orchestra, Biffy Clyro, Weatherbox
Friday, April 4, 2008
Better Than: Being spoon-fed dinner in a straight jacket
Say Anything lead singer Max Bemis has got enough issues—enough to, well, write a 27-song double disc detailing those issues, which he did in the band’s 2007 sophomore release In Defense of the Genre. As exhaustive as that record sounds, it’s not nearly as tiring as watching a few hundred teens vehemently chant along to the self-involved singer’s every lyric, which are usually about how his Hollywood film industry father sent him to a mental ward or the woes of society (a main topic of the band’s first and arguably more interesting album …Is A Real Boy). Bemis offers definite proof that a silver spoon can’t buy happiness, but it might be a shoe-in to the record industry.
Setting aside the fact that Bemis’ fragile mental state has been talked about almost as much as the emo punk music he makes, and regardless of whatever his or the fans’ issues may be, there was a major connection between performer and audience at tonight’s sweatbox of a show. The audience of Warped Tour-ready guys and girls expressed their affection for the sounds with violent moshing (sending at least one female to the bathroom with a bloody noggin), crowd surfing, passionate singing and fists in the air. Of course, there were also the occasional couples who used every song as an excuse to make out.
Although most emo rock acts don’t incorporate much set design into their shows, Say Anything had large images of their latest album as a backdrop. Scenes of angry cartoon characters, armed with weapons and going head-to-head, appeared on each side of the stage.
The evening began with “No Soul” from In Defense of the Genre, and the band continued with a balance of favorites off of both albums, playing “Shiksa (Girlfriend),” “Baby Girl, I’m A Blur,” “About Falling,” “Retarded in Love,” and “We Killed It.” Bemis dedicated a version of Smashing Pumpkins’ “Stand Inside Your Love” to the Scottish trio Biffy Clyro, in honor of this being their last night on the tour. Bemis gave an enthusiastic show, grooving from side to side or bouncing in time, and offering his trademark tongue-out style while singing.
The performance was so inspirational for one fan that he decided it was the perfect opportunity to make a marriage proposal to his girlfriend; she accepted. Bemis lent his hand in making it all happen, giving the dude a shout out beforehand and congratulations after playing “Walk Through Hell.”
The great climax came with the encore performances, songs from their debut album …Is A Real Boy. The entire touring entourage—Manchester Orchestra, Biffy Clyro and Weatherbox—joined Say Anything for a stage party sing-along during “Belt.” “This has been the best tour ever,” Bemis declared. It seemed like the fans and support bands agreed. They closed the show solo with their most confrontational song, “Admit It!!!,” in which Bemis attacks “prototypical non-conformists.” “You know nothing about art or sex/That you couldn’t read in any trendy New York underground fashion magazine,” the frontman shouted along with the masses of adoring teens, who seemed just as fired up and disgusted about all of these social and personal retaliations as he was. The fans were onboard with whatever the front man had to say. What all this amounts to is that Bemis just seems the blur the line between what it means to be some kind of wayward mental-patient and just a dude taking issue with life’s lemons.
– Monica Cady
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Personal Bias: When I met Max Bemis on the MySpace tour he was in a bratty rock star mood, throwing down major cash and playing a gambling game called Cee-lo.
Random Detail: Bemis appears as the baby on the movie poster for the 1987 comedy Raising Arizona. His father designed the poster.
By the Way: Say Anything’s video for “Shiksa” premieres April 9th.