The sentimentality that music evokes is perhaps one of music’s most powerful qualities. For me, Saves The Day’s sophomore record Through Being Cool represented an anthemic coming of age. Fifteen years after it’s release, Through Being Cool still has the potency to send me back in time to the backseat of my friend’s first car, burning gas down back roads, directionless; haphazard teenagers becoming acquainted with adulthood; dousing our weekends in 110 Vodka and Busch Light; testing our limits and often surpassing them.
Nearing thirty, I’m clinging to any residual youth with white knuckles. Each day that passes leaves me feeling more and more like an itemized statistic on a BuzzFeed list of “Twenty-something Things That Will Make You Feel Old If You’re Twenty-something”. For those who refuse to come to grips with the ticking of the clock, it may not be easy to cope with the realization that those albums we wore out back in the day are now as old as we were when we relished them (I can certainly commiserate). But there is a positive upshot. The recently popularized decade anniversary tours (on which bands commemorate their popular albums by playing them straight through ten years after the original release) open a window to the glory days. They provide an opportunity for quiescent pop-punk revelers to revive those remnants of teenage fervor for a night.
The moderately awkward freshman version of me was contented that I attended the last stop of a tour showcasing flagship albums from three bands that were quite influential during my formative years and invaluable to the future of the genre: Saves The Day, Say Anything, and Reggie And The Full Effect. It was refreshing to discover the steadfastness of fans after all these years. The crowd was noticeably older, punctuated with budding scenesters paying homage to three bands of transcending importance that no doubt influenced the present flavors of the scene.
Reggie And The Full Effect, the brain child of James Dewees of The Get Up Kids, catalyzed the evening. Clad in a cheap Santa suit that has undoubtedly been collecting sweat each night since the beginning of the tour, Dewees orchestrated a backing band of unruly “elves” while rasping the lyrics to a set list of Under The Tray songs and fingering out 80s-style synth leads that have come to epitomize Reggie’s dance-pop sound. Dewees has a vocal quality that suggests years of alcohol, cigarettes and punk rock although I can only substantiate the latter claim personally. He would eventually make comic jabs at his age and the relative age of certain members of the crowd, corroborating a long history in the scene with these veteran bands. “So, you’re divorced too?”, a joke about the first conversational topics upon reuniting with Saves The Day after many years has the crowd cracking up.
The two co-headliners alternated for the closing spot on this tour. On this particular evening Say Anything provided direct support while Saves The Day closed things out.
A decade ago this year, Max Bemis wrote and recorded all of Say Anything’s second full-length …Is A Real Boy (except for drums) himself. While the protean frontman has real talent on several instruments, he performs most songs with only a cabled mic, drawling out evidence of his of his intellect with lyrics carefully fashioned from a flowery and colorful vocabulary.
Bemis had begun celebrating the last night of the tour early and his drunkenness culminated in the middle of the set. He sang a few parts lolling on his back as the set ripened but it could have easily been perceived as theatrics since, despite his inebriation, his performance was on point that night. His overindulgence wasn’t apparent until he vomited mid-song while performing a solo composition. The House Of Blues attendees roared in amusement. When he raised a hand, either graciously accepting the crowd’s ovation or signaling that he was now fine and the song would continue, the audience reacted in the same way they might when watching an injured athlete raised to his feet after being immobilized by a potential injury and return to the sideline. But, in “the show must go on” spirit, Bemis and Say Anything finished the set as if nothing had ever happened. That was entertainment.
The burning incense and the lengthy instrumental intro “jam” of noisy feedback and tremolo picking colored with long delays and reverbs seemed to represent the bohemian departure Saves The Day had undergone since their originally simple pop-punk sound; a perpetually transforming aesthetic that undoubtedly had been affected by early rock bands like The Beatles. Over the years, Saves The Day had undergone some cast changes. They had added an innovative style to their arsenal of straightforward pop-rock songs, peppering their sound with creative seventh chord combinations and unique times signatures. Vocalist and lyricist Chris Conley had taken on new topics and addressed his own struggle with mental illness. Fifteen years after Through Being Cool they were more refined and seasoned and I appreciated the whole sonic journey.
After a heaping crescendo of unintelligible noise, Conley down-picked the simple three-power-chord intro to All-Star Me, the first track on Through Being Cool. Once rockers, many of whom had probably come straight from their nine-to-fives, accompanied Conley’s nostalgic vocals. Most would probably show up to the office tomorrow without a voice. Through eleven classics, twenty-eight and a half minutes of material, the melodic amalgamation of voices went on. To fill the rest of their sixty-five minute set, Saves The Day plugged such flagship favorites as At Your Funeral from Stay What You Are, Anywhere With You from In Reverie, and Ring Pop from their most recent eponymous release, before the wall of noise that began their set reprised to wrap the show.
Many tasted once again the ethos of their adolescence that evening, reconvened with their heroes who had aged too with varying degrees of grace. The evening was evidence of the genre’s ability to transcend expectations of lasting relevance. While I didn’t depart with the taste of well liquor and cheap beer in my mouth that particular evening (a far cry from the decade-earlier-version of me), I did harbor a reminiscent feeling of my pop-punk golden age and it was more than satisfying.
BY ZACK GEMMELL