Note: I'm very aware that Recover and Armor For Sleep were on this tour but I left after Say Anything because I don't like them (sue me).
First of all, my best friend and I might possibly qualify as brain dead. She came to pick me up at four o' clock for our drive into Baltimore when the doors opened at six. Now, Baltimore is only thirty minutes from where we live, and it took us forty-five minutes to get to the Ottobar. And as we're standing outside in the cold in an alley for an hour and a half she constantly asked me "Why didn't you say anything about how weird it was about us leaving so early?" What can I say Linda? I'm just an idiot. Fortunately, the two of us were able to huddle together and sing Say Anything songs to keep the spirits up until six.
Once the doors opened I scurried to the bathroom while she got us a spot in the very front (which turned out to be a very cool move). And as people slowly filed in, Chase Pagan began his set. Now, I had thought Chase Pagan was some sort of mediocre screamo band, but Chase turned out to be a person (as well as a two-man band). Chase did all the vocals and guitar work and he had a very skilled keyboardist named Brooks helping him on most songs. Chase never told us any of his song names, but I turned out to be very impressed by his set, making me wish I had. He has an awesome falsetto and the way he finger picks his guitar (electric and acoustic) was very awesome. The only problem with the set really was that it's kind of freaky at times, because sometimes when Chase sung, his eyes rolled back into his head and he had to stop in the middle of a song because he was unaware of time. He was forced to call his keyboardist back on stage and went right into his last song. After this he promised us that he would be returning on tour with a full band eventually, so remember the name, people, because he might be big eventually.
After this, Casper Adams and Say Anything's new tour keyboardist/guitarist got on stage and began to set up. Then the new bassist (who looks about 15) arrived as well and began helping the drummer get his stuff on stage. Throughout all this I did not see Max Bemis (not once), throughout sound checks and such and I wondered if something was wrong, but Max appeared on the left side of the stage just as the set started. He grabbed the microphone and the band jumped right into "Belt." Now, there wasn't a very big crowd for Chase Pagan, but in the time he played to the time Say Anything attempted to play, the room was suddenly crowded full of people I'd bet were in the 15 - 20 age range. Meaning EVERYONE was screaming their lungs out singing along to the song, most specifically the girl behind my best friend, who was going insane and jumped on my friend's back multiple times. After the show she told me she felt violated.
The atmosphere in the room looked electric, and when I first listened to Say Anything on the CD I always thought, "This is great but I wonder if their live show suffers at all…" My God was I wrong. Everyone in Say Anything is just as capable a musician as Bemis (who did just about all the instrument work on their debut CD except drums) is. And as he flailed around in his orange T-shirt that read "I am perfect" and a hundred kids shouting at him "So what say you?! And all your friends! Step up to my friends! In the alley tonight!" I realized that Jason Tate was fucking right. Again. And I hate agreeing with him oh so much but seriously guys…if you're not with Say Anything by now, I just don't know what's wrong with you.
After playing "Woe" and "The Futile" (again with the crowd shouting along to every lyric) Max got his guitar from the keyboardist and said "I'm gonna play guitar now guys." Cheers for "Admit It" immediately began filing in but Casper Adams silenced them by asking "Admit what? That we're your favorite fucking band?" A resounding "Hell yeah!" followed. The band went into "Slowly Through A Vector" and then asked us if they wanted us to play one more song or two more and the room screamed for two. So they played "Spider Song" and then "Alive With The Glory Of Love" for the first time on tour, once again with all the adolescents in the room screaming along.
Again, it pains me to agree with Jason Tate, but I'm probably just as orgasmic about this band as he is. And as my friend and I filed into the merch line and shook Max's hand we agreed that it was easily one of the best sets we'd ever seen live. And now I find Mr. Bemis' shirt very fitting because at least in the ways of what people are calling "Pop Punk/Emo" go, Say Anything is in fact perfect.