The inaugural Bamboozle Roadshow rolled into Columbus, OH last Sunday with a strangely diverse lineup that was mirrored by the diverse crowd it attracted. Scene girls rubbed shoulders with old hardcore dudes and everyone witnessed a wide range of music from electro-pop scene garbage to pop-punk sing-alongs. Oh yeah, and Saves the Day headlined while singer Chris Conley got wasted on stage.
The first band of the night I caught of the night was Metro Station. Playing a mix of modern emo pop and basic dance music, these four haircuts wowed the little girls and bored everyone else with their vapid songs and vaguely sexual lyrics. After their set I heard rumors of Billy Ray Cyrus lineage, which turned out to be true. Yes, the "Achy Breaky" son and Hannah Montana bro fronts the lamest band you will ever hear. If you are on this site, it is probably in your interest to avoid this band.
Up next was a complete 180-degree turn, with Set Your Goals slamming out a no-frills and high-energy set. The band does not quite match the fun peaks of their records, but still turned out a competent and engaging set with a strong instrumental presence. They hit all the best tracks from 2006's Mutiny! and "Goonies Never Say Die" from the Reset EP, but none of the covers they are rumored to play live.
Set Your Goals is often noted for having two stand-alone frontmen that both sing with their own take on the Lifetime and New Found Glory template; however, their respective live presence could not have been any more different. Lower-voiced Jordan Brown was all over the stage, interpreting the lyrics with his hands and constantly calling for crowd interaction. Conversely, higher-pitched vocalist Matt Wilson (who is a significantly smaller person than Brown, which I don't intend as an insult to Brown or Wilson -- rather, the size difference only serves to enhance the visual discrepancy) was mostly stationary, standing center stage and singing his lines in a mostly uninspired manner. Any imperfections aside, they put on a solid set that had the crowd singing along and running a surprisingly long-winded circle pit for most of the set.
After Set Your Goals, the show returned to its emo pop start with Armor for Sleep playing Rock Star for 40 minutes. While this band is generally respected for its conceptual and atmospheric take on what is essentially basic modern rock, I usually find them to be just okay (boring). With a recent move to major label waters, the band's set featured new material complete with triggered drum beats (which is a shame, because drummer Nash Breen is the clear standout of the band) and no longer interesting lyrics. At the end of the set, their bassist stood at the edge of the stage and held his bass in the air above his head for at least 30 seconds in a pose similar to what you might expect to see when an epic warrior defeats an entire army by himself. Apparently, Armor for Sleep defeated the hordes and redeemed their people, although all I noticed was that the guitar player was wearing his own band's shirt.
Headlining the night was, of course, scene veterans Saves the Day. Being a long-time fan, I have seen the band numerous times both in Ohio and in Massachusetts during my time of residence in both states. This was unfortunately my least favorite STD set that I have witnessed as the band leaned heavily on material from In Reverie and last year's Under the Boards.
After opening song "The End," Chris Conley announced that the band's printer had run out of paper and they would be performing a set comprised entirely of songs requested by the fans, alternating with requests from each band member. While this sounds like it would make for an awesome set, it didn't. When it was time for fan requests, Conley displayed a knack for only hearing what he wanted to hear. With all the classics in their catalog I have a hard time believing that fans were overwhelmingly requesting songs like "Wednesday the Third" and "Don't Know Why." Drummer Durijah Lang had the best requests with actual fan favorites like "Handsome Boy" and "Sell My Old Clothes, I'm Off to Heaven."
Throughout the member changes that have plagued this band, each new lineup has shown an increased level of professional musicianship. Clearly, today's Saves the Day (oddly enough, featuring two former and current members of Glassjaw) is an experienced and skilled band capable of a wide variety of styles. The first third of their set displayed this as they solidly flowed through their songs with Conley sounding near perfect on every vocal part.
At the halfway point, even with a weak set list, the band was sounding great. Then the drinking started. Off-stage, apparently, Set Your Goals was sending out shots and beers to the band and soon the performance started to suffer. Conley became that dorky friend that can't handle his alcohol and seemed overly excited about directing the complex alternating fan/band song request plan. As more shots flowed onto the stage, the breaks between songs grew and the other members grew visibly annoyed with Conley's belligerent ramblings. At the 11 p.m. set closing time, Conley refused to leave the stage repeatedly asking, "Isn't this a college town?" As his band left the stage he managed to sneak in a final solo electric performance of "Jessie and My Whetstone," which managed to put a nice cap on the evening.
While many fans have written off the band over the last few albums, their consistent live show has held them in high esteem with those that have stayed with them. After all of the excellent Saves the Day sets I've witnessed in the past, this is the first time I have seen them be anything but professional and solid. Perhaps their set was a symptom of playing in Columbus, Ohio and being less concerned with quality than they would be in "more important" cities like Boston or New York. Ultimately, I hope that Sunday's performance was a momentary slip and not an omen of the future.