We sure missed Anberlin. Although the band called it quits in 2014, not a day has passed without us thinking about them. All right, we might be slightly exaggerating. Nevertheless, it’s been five years since Anberlin broke up, and their absence was clearly felt in Dallas, as proved by the enthusiastic, sold-out crowd Monday night at House of Blues. Fans of all ages showed up to welcome the Florida alt-rockers back from hiatus.
Looking around the room, one couldn’t help but notice several fans sporting the exact same black T-shirt from Anberlin’s “Final Tour” in 2014. If there ever was a night to pull those out of retirement, we suppose this was it. We wouldn’t suggest adding those shirts back into your regular rotation, though. Frontman Stephan Christian recently told Billboard, “We don't even know if we'll do anything past this summer.” So it seems this reunion may only be temporary.
(Sidebar: We’re praying to the emo gods that Motion City Soundtrack is on a similar path. The group took to social media last week to post a video with the cryptic caption “12.31.19” that sent fans into a frenzy speculating that they might reunite five years after disbanding.)
Support for this tour comes from the likes of emo prog-rockers I The Mighty. The San Francisco natives got their start in 2007 and have since built a dedicated, almost cult-like following. After seeing them perform, it wasn’t hard to understand why. The quartet’s sound was impressively dynamic, ranging from lyrical, soulful melodies in tracks like “Pet Names” to raw, underground vibes in those like “Playing Catch with 22.”
They also treated us to a performance of their newest single, “Cave In,” a heart-wrenching depiction of substance abuse from the perspective of a loved one. “Cave in. Knowing that you're throwing it all away. Cave in, losing everything you've ever wanted …” they sang. Despite the fact that many who arrived early clearly were unfamiliar with this opening act, I The Mighty was able to engage the crowd for its full 45-minute set. Fans were clapping and snapping along when prompted by frontman Brent Welsh, and there was shockingly little chit-chat between songs.
About 30 minutes after the opening act, the lights dimmed. Fans immediately erupted in thunderous applause that didn’t abate until long after Anberlin finished the first song of their set, “Godspeed” from 2006. This continued every time there was even the briefest of pauses, sometimes even in the middle of a song. The group plowed through several fan favorites from Cities and Never Take Friendship Personal in the first half of their set, without much time between for talking. When they finally took a breather, Christian exclaimed, “It’s only been about five years since I’ve seen your beautiful faces, and you’ve gotten so much more attractive.”
The vocalist then surveyed the crowd for questions, to which one emotional fan near the stage responded, “Can you please make me stop crying?” Hopefully she had some tissues at the ready, because Christian and crew then launched into two of their slowest and most emotional tracks: “Impossible” and “Inevitable.” The band invited one lucky fan up to the stage to help them sing the latter.
Things slowed down a bit more after this point, but the crowd didn’t mind. Not even a drawn-out monologue from Christian complete with a plug for Children’s International deterred them. As soon as he finished his spiel, the cheering commenced. The band continued on for at least another full hour, performing hits from their more recent albums, Vital and Lowborn (which they dropped just before retiring in 2014), before ending on everyone’s favorite, “The Feel Good Drag.” Fans then chanted “An-Ber-Lin” and “Encore, Encore,” and they happily obliged by returning to the stage to play us out to “(*Fin)”.
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