Taking Back Sunday, Thursday, The Colour Revolt, The New Regime
House of Blues
July 5th, 2011
Better than: having your first colonoscopy.
One of the biggest complaints about venues that can hold more than 100 people is that the intimacy between band and audience gets lost. Those craving a connection feel like a customer and not an active participant.
But there was no intimacy lost when Taking Back Sunday took the stage at the House of Blues last night, 20 or so minutes after 9 o'clock.
Frontman Adam Lazzara, looking like Patrick's Swayze's body double from The Outsiders, was his usual, jovial self as he entertained the near-capacity crowd. Using his microphone like a tetherball cord when he wasn't singing into it, he pranced and danced and kept the crowd fully-engaged for almost two hours.
Touted as the return of the band's original, Tell All Your Friends lineup, this tour, and this show in particular, found guitarist/vocalist John Nolan and bassist Shaun Cooper playing like they'd never left the band. Cooper was air-tight with his bass lines and Nolan's co-lead vocals came through crystal clear. Whatever ugliness you've heard about the band's very public past (especially Cooper and Nolan's split) was not on display. It was definitely a joyous night.
Sure, the band could have stuck to the first era where Nolan and Cooper were in the band (while also shilling their newly-released, self-titled record), yet they wisely didn't. Augmented by a backup guitarist/vocalist/keyboardsist named Nathan Cogen, the band played material from all of their records, save for 2009's New Again. Songs like "MakeDamnSure" and "One-Eighty By Summer" went over as well as "You Know How I Do." And Nolan did a fine job replicating the vocal and guitar parts originally done by his first replacement, Fred Mascherino.
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As proficient and professional the band was, they knew how to handle things when things went haywire, too. After their seventh song, "Error: Operator," drummer Mark O'Connell had to deal with one of a drummers' worst nightmares -- a broken bass drumhead. Snare heads and tom heads are easy to break after a while. Bass drum heads, though, are a different beast. While roadies (as well as Thursday drummer Tucker Rule) feverishly tried to put a new head on, Lazzara and Nolan decided to improvise. Backed by Cogen on keyboards, the dual frontmen softly graced through "Your Own Disaster." With the problem fixed, the full band ripped into "Timberwolves at New Jersey" and the crowd came alive again.
A few songs later, Nolan quickly jabbed his guitar with the intro to "A Decade Under the Influence." Arms went straight up in the air and a majority of the audience sang the parts Nolan didn't sing.
As the band reached its 16th song, its members could have wound the night down and left quietly. It's a good thing they didn't.
Lazzara, who had jumped earlier into the crowd during "Set Phasers to Stun," moved to stage left and kept walking. His mic chord stretched with the assistance of stage hands and security as he performed "Ghost Man on Third" on top of the bar on the west end of the venue. He worked his way to the east end bar for "Cute Without the E," claiming this was the end of the set. Lazzara asked Nolan to not start singing the bridge section of the song until he got back to the stage. After he got back on the stage and wrapped up the song, Lazzara did a swan dive into the center of the crowd and confetti rained down.
Common wisdom would say to end the night there. Not so.
After claiming the band isn't really big on encores, Lazzara and company came back out once more. Performing a cover "Existentialism on Prom Night" by Straylight Run (the band Cooper and Nolan formed after they left TBS) and dusting off a song they claimed they'd never play live again ("There's No 'I' In Team"), people wanted more. Alas, when The Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive" came on and the house lights came up, people sighed and walked out.
Before TBS took stage, Thursday showed how strong their band has remained since their breakthrough record, 2001's Full Collapse. Playing select cuts from their career, including new songs and "Counting 5-4-3-2-1" and "Understanding in a Car Crash," the sextet let loose for 40 minutes. Lead vocalist Geoff Rickly was an ever-humble showman and extremely friendly to the crowd. Even though the newer material drew only appreciative applause, Rickly's demeanor set a positive tone. After their first song, Rickly thanked their guitar tech J.C. as he filled for keyboardist Andrew Everding, who suffered a sprained wrist in Houston. With only two hours to learn Everding's parts, J.C. did just fine as the band did their nine-song set.
Earlier in the night, The Colour Revolt performed. They have a sound that is interesting on paper, but the execution on stage felt distant and aloof. The five-piece, draped in dark blue and green lights, straddled a line between early '90s Dischord and late '80s The Cure. Geoff Rickly sat near stage right and sang along -- but he seemed like the most engaged person with the band. With minimal crowd interaction, it wasn't surprising how often you could hear the crowd talking over their music.
First openers The New Regime, on the other hand, were very welcoming and got the night off to a good start. Though the four-piece's first song seemed like it never wanted to end, the rest of their 30-minute set sported better and better material. Led by former Nine Inch Nails/Lostprophets drummer Ilan Rubin on lead vocals and guitar, his talents lent to a satisfying sight. With a sound that recalls the Foo Fighters, Wolfmother and glam rock, there were plenty of guitar bends and busy drum fills.
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Personal Bias: I'm in a minority here, but I prefer Taking Back Sunday's Where You Want to Be over Tell All Your Friends. I know the standard party line is to proclaim Tell All Your Friends as a classic, but I strongly disagree. Plus, the last time I saw TBS, they were headlining at the Gypsy Tea Room. One of their opening bands was a four-piece who had a frontman that made girls scream with every growl he made, and they had a bassist who loved to jump around the stage. The band? Fall Out Boy.
Random Quote: "This is for anyone who hates their job," Geoff Rickly said before Thursday kicked in with "For the Workforce, Drowning."
Taking Back Sunday set list:
"You Know How I Do"
"One-Eighty By Summer"
"Your Own Disaster"
"Timberwolves at New Jersey"
"What's It Feel Like to Be a Ghost?"
"A Decade Under the Influence"
"Since You're Gone"
"Set Phasers to Stun"
"You're So Last Summer"
"Ghost Man on Third"
"This Is All Now"
"Cute Without the E"
"Existentialism on Prom Night"
"There Is No 'I' in Team"