Saves the Day - Live in Sayerville (Cover Artwork)

Saves the Day

Live in Sayerville (2019)

live show

I haven’t been to the Starland Ballroom in years, in fact, the last time was back in early 2014 with free tickets to see Artie Lange. It sits in a really desolate part of central-ish New Jersey full of nothingness, but despite its location and close proximity to New York City and Philadelphia, it draws many top tier tours. Full of staggered levels around the floor’s perimeter and a minimum of four bars making it easy to get a drink, the venue itself is an excellent spot to enjoy a show. Unless it’s a truly special event, the location itself just makes it undesirable to travel, but this time it was - Saves the Day celebrating the 20th anniversary of Through Being Cool and playing it in its entirety to a hometown audience.

I’ve been sitting on these tickets for a while, purchasing them on pre-sale many months ago knowing it would be special, almost like a reunion of sorts. It was finally here and my wife and I dropped our daughter off with the family and headed 45 minutes down the turnpike to enjoy a punk rock date night. Following the directions of the parking attendants upon arrival, we immediately knew what kind of show this would be. Parked to our left were two friends getting out of a car with two car seats and pulling in to our right was a minivan with a couple seemingly in the same situation as we were. This was going to be a night full of memories and time travel for many of us where Saves the Day helped in providing that coming-of-age soundtrack to critical points in our lives.

The screen projector hiding the stage was lifted, and as most of us were expecting “Lie awake wondering” from Hot Rod Circuit and “The Pharmacist”, who were the announced opener playing Sorry About Tomorrow in its entirety. Instead, we got “What’s up Jersey, we’re Anxious from Connecticut. Let’s go!” As an obvious young band, likely ten years younger than the youngest person in the crowd, they held their own, kicking off the night with four, (maybe five,) energetic songs channeling Shed-era Title Fight. Hot Rod Circuit was next, playing to an engaged crowd singing along to the aforementioned Sorry About Tomorrow, closing with the anthemic “Irish Car Bomb” from 1999’s If I Knew What I Knew Then.

Saves the Day then took the stage to a guitar-less Chris Conley. Now, I fully admit, I had thought Saves the Day was currently a four-piece, and they very well could be and perhaps just added a touring guitarist to the set, but with just a mic, you knew from the get-go that this was going to be true basement style, mic-pointing performance.

From the opening chords of “All-Star Me,” a mostly calm crowd was rushed into a tidal wave towards the floor from all angles of the venue. They coasted through the record in sequence with such a tight and youthful energy, playing off the crowd who knew every song word-for-word. The best moments and crowd highlights included just what you would expect – the “When do I get to wake up to you?” from “You Vandal”, the “SEVENTY MILES AN HOUR” shouts from “Shoulder to the Wheel”, the closing “You and I are like when fire and the ocean floor collide” from “Rocks Tonic Juice Magic,” and pretty much all of “Holly Hox, Forget Me Nots.” Crowd participation started to tail off a bit towards the end of the record, but this was due in part to most of us being in such anticipation for part two. Yes, we were there to celebrate Through Being Cool, but I was just as excited to see what songs they’d pull out from Can’t Slow Down, Stay What You Are and any of the pre-2001 singles and demos in the set. Saves the Day knew the crowd they were playing to and they didn’t disappoint. As much as I’ve been waiting to hear Through Being Cool live in sequence, I was more excited about the possibility of “Sell My Clothes, I’m Off to Heaven,” “Deciding” or “Firefly.”

The first encore brought Chris out alone with just a guitar. With help from the crowd, he belted out songs from the I’m Sorry I’m Leaving acoustic EP, and in perhaps the highlight of the entire night, he then dropped his guitar and delivered an acapella version of “Three Miles Down” from Can’t Slow Down.

The full band retook the stage and launched into the crowd-pleasing, “Sell My Clothes, I’m Off to Heaven,” a B-side that lives on as one of the biggest fan-favorites in their discography. Following “Cars and Calories,” Chris announced that “we’re now gonna play song songs off their first record, Can’t Slow Down.” I, along with the crowd in my immediate radius, got this immediate surge of even more adrenaline, getting ready for that opening riff in “Deciding” to drop.

Instead, the band jumped immediately into “Houses and Billboards.” It’s a great song, but with all of the singalong and chorus-shouting songs on Can’t Slow Down, it seemed like an odd choice to begin this stage of the set with. “Blindfolded” or “Always Ten Feet Tall” would have been more appropriate, but all was forgotten when the opening bass line in “The Choke” kicked-off, leading to the loudest part of the night from the crowd in the massive “IIIIII CAN SAY THIS.”

Staples from Stay What You Are carried out the rest of the set along with “A Drag in D Flat,” “Anywhere With You” and an old demo, “When It Isn’t Like It Should Be” that in Chris’s words said, “is when we became Saves the Day.”

The set closed with “Firefly” and final encore in “At Your Funeral.” In my humble and worthless opinion, “Firefly” is arguably one of the best emo songs ever written and to hear it live after all of these years was a gratifying experience. The act of shouting along “To me you are the light / From a lightbulb that breaks sometimes” with hundreds of other people, most seemingly at the same point in life as myself, was the perfect ending to such a nostalgic night - with an “At Your Funeral” cherry on top.