Concert Recap: Say Anything, The Front Bottoms, The So So Glos, You Blew It!

In 2010, I overheard the Say Anything set at Bamboozle New Jersey as I met the members of Motion City Soundtrack at their merch booth. Hearing their music live was awesome, but I vowed that I’d go to a proper show and be in the pit and really experience one of their live shows some day. Sunday, June 29 was that day. Say Anything headlined the House of Blues in Boston, one of my favorite venues (even though everyone else on the scene hates that it’s “so corporate”), and the best goddamn band in the world opened: The Front Bottoms.

Actually, three bands opened. The first was You Blew It!, whom we saw open for The Front Bottoms in February. They play a really energetic show, and the boys look so happy to be on stage that it’s always fun to see them play. Much like in February, they came on stage during The Front Bottoms’ set and during Say Anything’s to play songs with them, which added a bit of spontaneity that was fantastic. Apparently, HoB is the largest venue they’ve played, but if they were nervous, it didn’t really show. I loved watching them play.

The second opener was the So So Glos, whose music I would probably like recorded but couldn’t really get into live. I don’t think it had anything to do with the music itself — it was straightforward punk with an anti-hate message, which I usually dig — but rather the performance. I craved more stage presence and less baseball jokes, because I’m not a New England native and honestly don’t care about the Red Sox. (I’ll probably get lynched for that later, but sports have never ever been my thing.) I’ll have to check out their recorded stuff and see how I feel.

When The Front Bottoms took the stage, the crowd went completely apeshit. That was expected — AR and I have seen this band four times in the last year and we’ve left every single pit feeling like we’ve been run over by a horde of elephants. For me, seeing The Front Bottoms was the highlight of the whole night. I’ve wanted to see Say Anything for years and I absolutely loved their set, don’t get me wrong. But The Front Bottoms are my favorite band and seeing them live is almost a spiritual thing, every time. It’s cathartic and intense and makes me feel like I’m ten feet tall, no matter what else might be going on in my life when I enter or leave the venue.

The Front Bottoms' setlist, signed by Mat and Ciaran.
The Front Bottoms’ setlist, signed by Mat and Ciaran. Photo by AR.

TFB opened with “Skeleton”, as usual, so screaming the opening lyric with other fans in the crowd felt like entering a whole new headspace. Since it was only a 40-minute set, the band played a lot of favorites from the self-titled album and last year’s Talon of the Hawk. That was absolutely fine by me, though it was also amazing to hear a new, untitled song and even cooler to hear “Jim Bogart”. TFB just released a new ep, Rose, named after drummer Mat Uycich’s grandmother Rosemary, which features re-recorded, previously unreleased songs from the days when the band was just producing music for friends to hear.

By the time TFB left the stage, my voice was pretty much shot. I still managed to get keyboardist/trumpeter/guitarist Ciaran O’Donnell’s attention by screaming his name like a pterodactyl (sorry, Ciaran), who was an absolute darling and gave us a setlist to take home. After the show, we stuck around to chat with the boys from You Blew It! and got to chat with Mat and Ciaran, as well as Kenny from Say Anything, which was super cool.

Last time we saw TFB, I asked lead singer Brian Sella to write out lyrics from “Santa Monica” for a tattoo, which he did rather reluctantly. Though we didn’t get to see Sella so that I could show him (we had a train to catch), I did get to show Mat and Ciaran, both of whom said that Brian very rarely does stuff like that. As Ciaran pointed out, “he doesn’t want to be part of something that someone will regret one day.” I’m hoping that next time we see TFB, I can thank Sella for being kind enough to temper his handwriting so that it could be inked in my skin forever.

Photo by AR.
Photo by AR.

Going into the Say Anything set, I was on an absolute high that I hoped would remain for the rest of the show. Luckily, frontman Max Bemis brought a ton of presence to the stage and the rest of the band was so energetic and into the music that the high only continued. The song selection was pretty much perfect — Bemis’ wife Sherri DuPree Bemis and their daughter joined the band onstage for “Cemetery”, which had everyone dying, and the entire venue screamed every word to “Wow, I Can Get Sexual, Too”. Seeing Bemis perform “Every Man Has a Molly” acoustic during the encore was hands down the best part of the set for me. The band played a great mixture of old and new songs from their ridiculously large catalog, but I’ll keep holding out hope for a 10-year “Is A Real Boy…” tour just because it would be perfect.

Waiting in line for hours to be on barricade for this show was absolutely worth it. Our portion of the crowd was really respectful of each other but also really into the show, which is always a great combination, and the small child next to me who was at the show with his mom and dad seemed to have an awesome time, which somehow became super important to me once I realized he was there. As much as people complain about the House of Blues because it’s a corporate chain, I’ve never had a bad experience attending a show there. Security gave out water to thirsty, overheated crowd members without having to be asked, and everything was very organized from beginning to end. I had an absolutely amazing time and would absolutely repeat the experience, beginning to end, without changing a thing.

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Concert Recap: Say Anything, The Front Bottoms, The So So Glos, You Blew It!

Concert Recap: The Front Bottoms, You Blew It!, Valencourt

One thing I’ve learned since I saw them for the first time in July and then again in November is that The Front Bottoms put on a really fucking good show. On Saturday, Feb. 1, I saw them for the third time in less than a year, and it was the most incredible and intense experience I’ve had at one of their shows. That’s saying something, given how hard their fans go — especially in Rhode Island, which for whatever reason, has kids that go harder than any others I’ve seen. (Must be something in the water.)

The show was at The Met in Pawtucket, RI, a venue that’s on par for intimacy with Paradise Rock Club (though really, it’s even smaller, especially since it’s only one floor and there isn’t even an entryway before the actual venue space — the doors just open right onto the floor). AR saw Transit there in December with their younger brother, and I’ve been looking forward to seeing The Front Bottoms there since AR told me how small the venue is.

TFBTattooThis concert has been at the top of my List of Things to Look Forward To for months. And it was even better than I ever could have hoped or dreamed. Brian Sella and Matt Uychich come out before the show to give us hot chocolate (appropriate, given that it was the last night of The Hot Chocolate Tour) and hang out for a few minutes, despite the cold. And when I asked him to write out one of his lyrics for me to get tattooed (“I wanna be stronger than your dad was for your mom”), Sella gave me a rather dubious look but then promised he’d write it out and bring me back the paper.

He returned shortly before doors opened with a torn piece of paper displaying three versions of the lyric, warned me that his handwriting is awful, and told me to think about it before he went back inside. I didn’t get a chance to tell Sella exactly why I want the lyric, or what it means to me, or how it felt the first time I heard it and every time I’ve heard it since. I’m hopeful that the next time we see The Front Bottoms, I’ll have the tattoo and can talk to him about it then.

AR and I snagged spots right up against the stage for the show itself — the stage was low, and pressed right against my upper thighs when the crowd started to lose it during You Blew It!, one of the opening bands. My entire body aches from being at the front of that pit, getting kicked in the head repeatedly by crowd-surfers and stage-divers, and throwing myself into the music just as hard as everyone around me. My throat still feels raw from screaming the lyrics and until I showered this morning, I felt dead. To be honest, I still feel like a bit of a zombie. The Front Bottoms’ fans always go incredibly hard and it’s been a while since I’ve been at the front of a pit and stayed there. In fact, the last time was at my first TFB show in July. If possible, the crowd at The Met went even harder than the crowd at The Sinclair — I think the intimacy of the space was both a blessing and a curse, in that respect.

TFB
Being jostled by the crowd made all of my photos blurry, but The Front Bottoms nailed it.

The band played a really solid mixture of songs from the self-titled album and its newest release, Talon of the Hawk (2013), as well as “Twelve Feet Deep” from one of its earlier albums. You Blew It! made continuous appearances on stage to fuck with The Front Bottoms, since it was the last night on tour. They sang happy birthday to each member of the band, shoved cupcakes in their faces, came on stage dressed as robots… The lead singer of You Blew It! even appeared in a “wrestling outfit” to challenge Sella, who’d declared he wanted to become a wrestler named The Schwing, and the two “battled” on stage. At the end of the night, when The Front Bottoms played “Twin Size Mattress”, You Blew It! set up its instruments on stage, and helped play the latter half of the song.

The night ended just as well as it started — by the end of the show, AR and I were both drenched in sweat and sore as hell but so, so stoked about the whole evening. The middle parts were also excellent; You Blew It! played a super high energy set and seemed genuinely thankful to be on stage in front of so many people who were so into their songs. A ton of people in the crowd had clearly come to the show to see the band, which was awesome.

Prior to You Blew It! taking the stage, local musician Valencourt played a handful of gorgeous acoustic songs, including a cover of Brand New’s “Play Crack the Sky”. We met him after the show and he was incredibly sweet. I owe him $3, because he let me pay him the only $2 I had in my wallet for the $5, 10-track album. (Jeff, I promise I’m going to pay you back!) He also gave AR his info so that we can interview him about successfully Kickstarting said album for Velociriot!, which is super exciting.

All in all, Saturday was everything I could have wanted and more. Next time The Front Bottoms are in New England, we’ll definitely be at the show — this band has become one that I can’t miss. I don’t suspect that will change anytime soon.

Concert Recap: The Front Bottoms, You Blew It!, Valencourt