Show Review: Taking Back Sunday @ Emos (3/28)

Photo by Keeyahtay Lewis

I am here to report that the angsty teenager inside of me is alive and well. The part of me that I thought was long-gone jumped back out with a vengeance when I saw that Taking Back Sunday would be performing their 2002 debut album in full on a worldwide 20th anniversary tour with a stop in Austin, TX for two nights at Emos.

The concept is this: Tell All Your Friends will be played in full, followed by either 2004’s Where You Want To Be or 2006’s Louder Now, decided by a coin toss. This is the case for cities in which the band plays two nights. One night stops will be treated to TAYFfollowed by a selection of fan favorites from their catalogue. Said catalogue is also being honored with a new album, titled Twenty, which was released January 11, 2019 from Craft Recordings. The 21-song collection includes nineteen catalogue tracks from all seven of their full-length albums, plus two new studio recordings hinting at the direction the band are heading in the coming years.

Beginning as a key player in the early 2000s emo scene, the band consisting of vocalist Adam Lazzara, guitarist John Nolan, drummer Mark O’Connell and bassist Shaun Cooper have had quite the run together. While their groundbreaking debut still resonates in the minds and hearts of so many late-twenties/early-thirties fans, they have been busy in the years since then, earning three gold albums, four Top 10 albums, ten Top 10 singles on the Billboard charts, and recently becoming the youngest inductees into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame.

Now, it may have been a decade since I heard most of the songs on Tell All Your Friends, but when I went to revisit the album a couple days before the show, you better believe I remembered every word. I sometimes wonder if I were able to dump song lyrics into the trash like one does with unwanted files on a computer, would I clear up space in my brain? I cant remember what I did last Thursday night but I can sing every word to an album that I fell in love with in 2002. I mean, how can you forget something like You could slit my throat and with my one last dying breath, I’d apologize for bleeding on your shirt?

The first of two shows in Austin saw a sold out crowd at Emos, one of Austins larger venues, turning all the way up. When Taking Back Sunday took the stage, it was clear that I am not the only person in Austin who is sentimental for this band.

Lazzara powered through “You Know How I Do” and “Bike Scene” with as much energy as one would have expected from the band back when the album was released and much to my approval showed us early on that his mic cord swing stills are still as sharp as they were 20 years ago.

Expectedly, “Cute Without The E (Cut From The Team)” got a massive response from the crowd as they all sang along at the top of their lungs “Why cant I feel anything thing for anyone other than you?!”

The band took a quick pause to introduce themselves as a band called Taking Back Sunday as if they needed to, and tossed out the obligatory Austin is one of our favorite cities in the world.

As they moved along through the album next with “Theres No I In Team,” it became apparent that every song was going to be a sing-a-long. This band truly has some of the most memorable lyrics from their generation of ego bands.

Lazzara introduced “Great Romances Of The 20th Century” as the first song they ever wrote together. I had been particularly excited for this one as the night before the show, I watched “Beautiful Girls” for the first time and made the connection that the intro to the song is a sample from a speech made in the movie. “A beautiful girl can make you dizzy, like youve been drinking Jack and Coke all morning…”. Sure enough, they used the bite and the crowd went bonkers before the music even started.

“Ghost Man On Third” slowed things down a little, but there was still never a moment without hands in the air. I shifted from the spot I staked out up front to the back of the crowd as they moved along to “Timberwolves At New Jersey” and got the full effect of what a sold out crowd at Emos looked like. Ill suffice it to say there are a lot of TBS fans in Austin.

Before heading into “The Blue Channel,” we were treated to a story about how slow the piano intro to the song was originally written to be much slower than it came out on the album. Lazzara also spoke to how “young and full of life” they were back then, “Hell, we were only 9 years old,” he jokes.

“You’re So Last Summer” was another favorite, with the crowd singing literally every line, especially the iconic “With my one last dying breath, I’d apologize for bleeding on your shirt.” It had become apparent that I’m not the only one saving space in my brain for TBS lyrics.

The final song on TAYF, ends with the appropriate line of “Don’t call my name out your window, I’m leaving,” but let us not fear, they arent leaving! Its time for a coin toss.

By the time Louder Now came out, I was in college and diving into the indie rock scene in Athens, GA, essentially abandoning my pop punk and emo roots. So my fingers were crossed for Where You Want To Be, the album I had spent much more time with than its successor. Spoiler alert: I got my wish.

The second half of the set was equally as powerful and delivered with tons of energy from the band, but it was starting to get a little messy in the crowd. People making out and groping to “Bonus Mosh Pt. II,” which is funny because I’m not sure how the lyrics to that song would inspire much intimacy. By the time they got to “The Union” there was a rowdy drunk girl getting bounced.

The lovely ballad “New American Classic” saw Lazzara picking up an acoustic guitar and noting that he has had many requests over the years to have the song performed at weddings, to which he would respond “absolutely not” and suggest they take another listen to the lyrics and get back to him. Not all ballads are love songs, after all.

The start of “One Eighty By Summer” got a huge fist pumping response followed by hands in the air clapping in unison building up to the chorus. A quick pause to introduce the members of the band gave one obviously very big fan the opportunity to toss a pair of panties on stage.

As the album neared its end, Lazzara lefts us with a message that “you can be whatever you want, whenever you want, wherever you want.” He also shared his thoughts on people referring to this as a nostalgia tour. “Fuck you! Its not a nostalgia tour. We wanted to take a break from what we were doing to come celebrate with you.” So there it is folks, dont call it nostalgia. But do go celebrate with Taking Back Sunday when they come to your town.

Words by Michelle King

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