I know you love it when show reviews start out with a cute little anecdote about how I got there and why I was there and the connection I had to the bands and stuff, but unfortunately, I really don’t have much to say on the matter. My friend asked me to go to this show, so I said “Why the hell not?” I thought Angels and Airwaves was a pretty cool band, and I rocked Tell All Your Friends back in the day (you did too), plus who doesn’t like live music and friends?
Well, it turns out Head Automatica didn’t play. I was not aware of any cancellations (or maybe I just wasn’t paying attention), but I wasn’t too bummed out. Instead, the Vines performed first on the bill. I mean, the Strokes. Or was it the Hives? It couldn’t have been Oasis, because they didn’t look like brothers, and it definitely wasn’t the Sounds. See, as I was trying to figure this out in my head, I felt like a real jerk as the singer told us they were from down under, not Britain in the least, and were called the Subways. I had heard a little hype here and there, but it was pretty sweet going in there with no former knowledge of the band. Needless to say, they were pretty bad. The songs they performed were bland, typical rock and roll stuff, with nasally vocals. They’ve also got the token “hot girl” in the band (in quotations because this was actually far from the truth) who played bass and looked like she’d hadn’t eaten a thing in a week. I myself kinda think it’s rather gimmicky, for the horny fourteen-year-olds in the crowd to be like “Dude! Look how short her shorts are!” It was horrific when she sang, especially when she tried to harmonize with the lead vocalist. The crowd was not into them in the least (even from countless attempts to get the entire arena clapping by the singer), and it felt like they were on stage for hours as they didn’t have much energy and played probably twelve songs. It was a pretty bad way to start the night.
I think We Don’t Need to Whisper is a decent album. I’m not all gung-ho for it, even though it’s got some catchy tunes, but I was interested in how it’d translate live, especially in an arena setting. The wait between bands wasn’t terrible considering the circumstances, and after some time, the lights went low and the stage lit up and started blinking as I instantly went into a furious seizure. I’m actually comatose right now, you just can’t tell. But in all seriousness, I sorta dug the setup, with the colors and the epic banner behind the group; it fit the feel of their music well. As for the performance, I was pleased. Tom sounded pretty good considering his history of being off-key in a live venue (even though I’ve heard he uses a pitch corrector when he performs with A&A), and worked the crowd well too, at one point disappearing from the stage and entering into the crowd to interact with fans and sing the first verse of “There Is” by his other band, Boxcar Racer. They played almost everything from the new album, minus “Good Day” and “A Little’s Enough,” and even threw in a verse of “Down” by Blink-182 in the extended introduction to “The Adventure.” Tom pranced (I do not use the term “prance” lightly) around a lot on stage, but the other guitarists didn’t move too much; however, Atom Willard had a pretty great presence behind the kit, really looking like he was giving it 110%. There was a little overkill on the atmospherics and the lengthening of songs, but I suppose it comes with the territory. Tom also talked a bit too much, spewing out lame comments like “Just so you know, if anyone in your life, like a parent, says you can’t do something, fuck ‘em!” and “My brother just left for a war that we are fighting FOR NO REASON!!!!” Overall, their performance wasn’t nearly as bad as the previous live review of them made them out to be, and barring the few nuisances over the course of the hour and fifteen minutes, I enjoyed myself.
Taking Back Sunday is just sort of “whatever” to me now. I seriously could not care less about the band, so I wasn’t totally looking forward to them, but I was going to keep an open mind. As they came on to more flashing lights and gigantic backdrops, I nearly went deaf from the roar of the crowd. The band came out with the lead track off their new album Louder Now, “What’s It Feel Like to Be a Ghost” with more energy and a better sound than I had anticipated; the song actually sounded better in a live setting. Such was the case for most of the new material they played, but when the band performed material from Tell All Your Friends, they fell a bit flat. Vocalist Adam Lazzara was off-key a little bit when holding out notes, but his voice held up for the most part; guitarist Fred Mascherino’s voice fared much better, sounding less whiny than it does on record. The most aggravating part of their set was, by far, watching how much of a fairy Lazzara is; you can only take so much mic swinging and tight pants and lame dance moves and body movements before you start to wonder if the dude is actually a woman. Combined with trying to sound too hip when talking between songs, it was a disaster. Maybe some others won’t feel this way, but I had definitely had my fill of this guy a third of the way through the set. They had a little less energy towards the back end of their set (you’d run out of energy too if you had the build of their second guitarist), but they had a good balance of old and new stuff; the newer stuff had a better reception, but the biggest and most sung-along song was “You’re So Last Summer,” which had a young girl in tears a few rows in front of us. I didn’t see any slit throats or gasping breaths, so I disregarded it. We left a little early in order to beat the traffic, so I don’t know what they closed with or how the five encores were. You know how it is. Or maybe you don’t, but you did get to sit in an hour and a half of traffic. All in all, a decent performance, which is more than I could have asked for.
This was a fun night, and even if the performances weren’t mind-blowing and the bands playing weren’t my favorites, I still walked out of the arena and into the Camden night fulfilled. Obviously it’s not as intimate as a normal show, but there’s something about an arena show that’s also pretty cool in its own way. Just don’t be the mid-20-year-olds behind me discussing Pokemon. Then you’d have a problem on your hands.