Taking Back Sunday at South Side Ballroom, 2/21/15

Taking Back Sunday showed their scruffy side at South Side Ballroom on Saturday
Taking Back Sunday showed their scruffy side at South Side Ballroom on Saturday
Courtesy the artist

Taking Back Sunday With Letlive and the Menzingers South Side Ballroom, Dallas Saturday, February 21, 2015

The scene at South Side Ballroom on Saturday night for the fourth stop of Taking Back Sunday's 2015 tour looked like a combined high school reunion for the classes of the 2000's. The room was chock full of beard balm-packing, flannel-clad hipsters, with a few studded belts and some silicone jewlery to remind us all that these were one-time scene kids.

But there was an even bigger transformation that had taken place in the band's lead singer. When the band hit stage, there was a moment when the crowd was unsure if the man in black, standing at the mic was Adam Lazzara or a very impressive Russell Brand impersonator.

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Gone are the days of the clean-cut, teenybopper dreamboat known as Adam Lazzara. Instead, concertgoers were met by a scruffy version of Lazzara, complete with flowing waves of brunette locks and a gravelly voice that insinuated fire breathing had become the hot, new pre-show ritual.

The band's set got off to a rocky start with the first three songs - as evidenced by a few awkwardly absent high notes and some incessant lyric skipping. That may have something to do with Lazzara's recent driving while intoxicated bust in his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina.

According to Spin, Lazzara was pulled over in the early morning hours of February 15 after allegedly failing to stop at a red light. The singer was ultimately arrested for DWI and is currently out on a $2,500 bond. Luckily, this little snafu will not be inconveniencing TBS fans or disrupting any tour dates, as Lazzara is not due to be back in court until April 15.

The amount of time it took the band to pump out "Flicker Fade", "What's It Feel Like to Be a Ghost" and "Number 5 with a Bullet" seemed to be all that was needed for the struggling frontman to get his act together. Lazzara took a moment to say hello to the fans and promote TBS's soon-to-be-released Happiness Is, a limited edition, complete "collection of 7-inches" that will also include three acoustic renditions of album tracks. Happiness Is is set to be released on February 24.

From this point forward, it was as if the crowd had jumped into Doc Brown's DeLorean and been shot back to 2002. Lazarra & Co. played the B-side, "How I Met Your Mother" followed by fan-favorites "Liar", "Timberwolves at New Jersey", " A Decade Under the Influence" and "You're So Last Summer" -- all of which included Lazzara's signature slingshot microphone and his best Mick Jagger strut.

Not to be outdone by their fearless leader, drummer Mark O'Connell and bassist Shaun Cooper completely dominated the stage. O'Connell, who sat atop an Olympian-sized mountain of drums, was in stark contrast to Lazzara's sleepy time, tea-infused intro, beating the absolute shit out of his equipment at every opportunity. Cooper, meanwhile, seemingly took flight, flawlessly executing a maniacal bass-slapping tutorial, which surely inspired a new flock of bassists.

As the night progressed, the audience's sing-alongs became more pronounced, the enigmatic lead singer's infatuation with potential self-strangulation via electrical cord became more evident and the crowd surfing had taken on a nature of its own. (Bonus points go out to the girl in the Beetlejuice pants, whom I am 99 percent sure dominated the crowd-surfing arena with a record 5 times in the air.)

At one point, Lazzara addressed the audience on a more personal level, reminiscing about his time in neighboring Tyler, Texas and the inspiration behind the song "Better Homes and Gardens." The singer also trailed off into a show-and-tell moment, discussing the technical aspects of his new beta microphone, only to realize that the majority of the audience probably did not care about about what new gear he was sporting.

The boys concluded their set with "You Know How I Do" and "It Takes More," which were followed by an all-too-expected encore fake-out that did not last more than a minute and barely allowed the onlookers time to begin the stereotypical encore chant.

Diehard fans were not to be disappointed when the guys returned to belt out "Call Me in the Morning" and "Cute Without the E". Then they closed the night with "Makedamnsure," and it was the stuff of screamo legend. Lazzara launched his new beta mic in every direction, wrapping it around his neck at times, and calling on the audience to assist with vocals on the closing track.

While the beginning of this performance may not have been the smoothest, the now-middle aged rockers made up for it by allowing their fans the pleasure of reliving their teen years with all of their favorite songs. It is no question that this band has reined in their cavalier exhibitionist tactics, and fans definitely missed Lazzara's bat-like, hanging from the rafters segment of the show. Perhaps it was inevitable, given recent events, that he would be in a more muted mood. But once they warmed up, these boys gave a performance that could rival anyone's favorite Warped Tour set.

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