Saves the Day can be pretty hit or miss with their headlining tours the past few years. I wasn't huge on the bill that featured now labelmates Senses Fail and Emanuel, but taking out Hot Rod Circuit and Boys Night Out was fun, and I enjoyed seeing them with Taking Back Sunday and Moneen. So needless to say, I was pretty thrilled to learn that they would be heading out with Circa Survive and Moneen.
To my dismay, Drive By played first. I remember the band simply as one of the most retched acts I've ever witnessed opening a show, which happened to be My Chemical Romance's headlining tour in late 2004 (essentially, moments before MCR was to become MTV darlings). Their song structure made little-to-no sense, and the music itself was ultra derivative pop-punk. But here, they seemed like they were starting to find their voice; their musical style was closer to boring emo rock with a few frills here and there, but only one song ended in an awkward, abrupt manner, whereas last time that was the case for nearly every song. I certainly didn't get any enjoyment out of their brief set, but it wasn't quite as mind-numbing as the first go-round, thankfully.
I wasn't entirely sure whether or not Circa had hit the popularity mark hard enough to overtake Moneen for the direct support slot, but that doubt was qualified when Moneen began to set up. The crowd's response to the set? Lackluster at best. It seemed like there were no more than a half-dozen visible fans of the band in attendance, and as a result, the band seemed a bit tired and discouraged, but only in the sense of "for themselves;" there was plenty of wild thrashing around, with vocalist/guitarist Kenny Bridges scaling a speaker at one point and taking a jump off the 10-foot height to land on his feet while he continued playing. Their new album by the way, titled The Red Tree, is great. They opened the set with one of its songs, the slower, modest "This Is All Bigger Than Me," a dreamy, atmospheric, gentle number with the key line "I hope your corporation dies." Perhaps the Canadian quartet has been hanging out with Underground Operations acts? Granted, I could be totally misreading that line, as I have no lyrics available for the rest of the song. The explosive, spectacular "Don't Ever Tell Locke What He Can't Do" followed, which I was pretty happy about; it's one of the year's best songs, no doubt. "Are We Really Happy With Who We Are Right Now?," "The Frightening Reality of the Fact That We Will All Have to Grow Up and Settle Down One Day," "The Passing of America," and "Start Angry...End Mad" would finish it up. The band did play completely spot-on and energetic as usual, but the total lack of a reflection of that in the audience did seem to hurt it a bit.
Circa Survive is a band whose album, as some of you might now, grew on me immensely over the course of last year. While I was always impressed with the standouts ("Act Appalled," "The Great Golden Baby"), the other songs were like hanging out with a stranger who refused to talk to me; I spent considerable amounts of time with them, and they would barely give me the time of day. After a few months, it seemed they started to break out of their shell, and I was rewarded for my patience with Juturna finally hitting home as a whole. So for an act that plays dreamy post-hardcore and contains two members of a band who long flew well under the radar, Circa Survive is big. Like, 14-year-old girl big. They had a veritable shitton of fans in attendance who sang along to every single word. The band came on stage with Anthony Green singing a brief solo piece, and I won't lie -- I was in awe. He hits those high pitches perfectly; those vocal flourishes on record are indeed the real thing. The set was rather seemless, with most of the songs transitioning perfectly. I was pleasantly surprised to hear "Handshakes at Sunrise" open it up, as "Holding Someone's Hair Back" followed. In no particular order, they would also play "Wish Resign," "The Glorious Nosebleed," "In Fear and Faith," "The Great Golden Baby," "Stop the Fucking Car," with "Act Appalled" (which Green called "Act Impressed") closing. Pretty solid.
Oh, and Saves the Day? They only played the best set I've seen them play, ever. They injected a necessary energy into all their older songs that gave them a new life. Their sets have more or less become parties of nostalgia these days, but these are parties that involve simply some of the greatest emo/pop-punk songs of the last seven years. They always throw in a few surprises, and I'd be a nasty fibber to say I wasn't more than excited to hear "Deciding" and "Banned from the Back Porch," two songs I'd never heard them play live. The set was spread out nice and evenly, with three songs from the upcoming Sound the Alarm thrown in. I've actually managed to hold off on listening to the leak of it, so these three in particular were quite impressive; they all carried on a viciously cynical manner despite the smooth, somewhat poppy nature of each (discluding "The End," of course). I suppose I'll continue to wait and just reap the rewards of waiting until April 11th. Another great set from a thoroughly revived act.
Set list by album [may be missing a song or 2]:
Can't Slow Down
- All-Star Me [played first]
- Holly Hox, Forget Me Nots
- Banned from the Back Porch
- At Your Funeral [played second]
- See You
- Anywhere With You [first song of the encore]
- Tomorrow's Too Late
- Ups & Downs [second of the encore]
- Sell My Old Clothes, I'm Off to Heaven
- Jessie & My Whetstone
- Head for the Hills
- The End
- Sound the Alarm
Oh, and they showed Transformers clips in between sets. Awesome.