Never has the backing of a once 18th century church turned concert hall seemed more appropriate than when Say Anything took to the stage of Mr. Smalls last night. The sold-out crowd was rapt to Say Anything’s every word, their punk anthems that span the bashing of hipster trends and struggles with growing up led a charged evening of adoration, making it hard not to feel a touch converted to a fan upon leaving.
Infectious anticipation and excitement lasted amongst fans, despite the lenghty wait provided in three openers (Front Bottoms, Fake Problems and Kevin Devine and the Goddamn Band). Front Bottoms and Fake Problems provided an early dose of pop punk, that was to be out shined by Devine, whose live material brought anguished screams and menacing power to his normally reserved recordings. The trio of openers held the attention of the audience, but they never quite captured their heat like Say Anything.
No matter the level of fandom, a once casual follower who liked the collection of instant messaging worthy profile tracks from 2004’s Is a Real Boy, or an avid off tune shouter who knows every word to an old B-side (“Slumming it with Johnny”), Say Anything appealed to every demographic of their fans. They delivered on their opening promise to, “try to range from the older material to the newer stuff,” and their set spanned an entire catalog of favorites.
Thanks to an electrifying stage presence and unforgettable energy, their tracks assumed an entirely new life on-stage, thanks in large part to Max Bemis. The level of intensity he first displayed when opening swinging on “Spidersong” lasted until the last notes of “Admit It Again”. From scaling drum kits, teetering precariously on the edge of the stage, and his brief pause for a moment of puppy love declaration on “So Good”, alongside his wife to our surprise, Bemis led the show in a relentless display of showmanship.
Bemis didn’t even need to deliver on his screaming punch lines because his fans knew every word, and that included newer material (“Burn a Miracle”, “Say Anything”). Because of this, Bemis spent most of the evening, holding out his microphone cable taut out above him, and encouraged his fans to sing along. By the end of the night, everyone walked out with a particular moment they could savor personally, and that’s just how Say Anything wanted it. As Bemis encouraged them to, “come back again and we’ll keep rocking,” it wouldn’t be a surprise if they were already lined up outside.
Photography by Kenna Rearick.
Burn a Miracle
In Defense of the Genre
Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too
Slumming it with Johnny
Every Man has a Molly
The Church Channel
Walk Through Hell
Alive with the Glory of Love
Admit it Again