Posts Tagged ‘Taking Back Sunday’

Concert Review: Taking Back Sunday, Anberlin, fun, Gavin Castleton

October 28, 2009

(Venue: LC Pavilion, Columbus, Ohio.)

Taking Back Sunday, Anberlin, fun, Gavin Castleton

10-23-09

I recently started a new job. That means, much to my delight, I can take up my old hobby of going to concerts once more. I was pleased to discover that one of my new favorite bands, Anberlin, would be coming to Columbus. I had seen them once before a few months ago in Cincinnati, but my girlfriend and I didn’t truly get to enjoy the show due to illness and a less-than-friendly crowd around us. Anberlin had put on a great show the last time around, so I wanted to come back for more. Hopefully this time I could take in the music with minimal disturbance.

A songwriter named Gavin Castleton opened the show with a brief set. His voice was decent enough and he proved to be a more-than-adequate keyboardist. Some of his material seemed a bit “different,” so to speak, especially considering one song was a “zombie murder love story.” He was entertaining, especially considering his talented drummer and the fact that two members of Taking Back Sunday sat in on his set. Most of Castleton’s set had a very Coldplayish vibe, with guitars taking on more of a “texture” than a lead, and with keyboards in the forefront of the mix. The highlight of Castleton’s performance was the second song, which was an insane six-minute funk-rock breakdown. The song was groovy, infectious, and featured all the “wikka wikka” guitar funk-rock enthusiasts desire.

A Gavin Castleton album.

The second band lived up to their name, “fun.” The band, come to find out, is an offshoot of The Format, who I hadn’t listened to much before beyond a few songs. I hadn’t listened to them at all before this show, but now I intend on picking up their album eventually and I would see them again without hesitation. fun’s music was a delightful blend of country, folk, blues-rock, rockabilly, punk, and pop. Three members of the band contributed vocals, making for delightful interweaving parts and thick, robust harmonies. The vocal harmonies weren’t unlike something that Alabama, The Eagles, The Beach Boys, or The Beatles would sing; and they were definitely a highlight of the show. Every musician in the band was very flexible and capable, the lyrics were thoughtful yet not overly heavy, and the frontman performed with a ton of energy. The frontman (his name escapes me at the moment) had the swagger of Mick Jagger, the working-class image of Bruce Springsteen or John Mellencamp, the vocal range of Steve Perry, and the punkish edge of Paul Westerberg. He sold the music with impeccible delivery and a great sense of humor. I also enjoyed a random trumpet solo during a song that made me immediately recall Neutral Milk Hotel. I can’t wait to hear more from fun.

fun's Debut Album.

Now it was time for Anberlin to take the stage… and take the stage they did. There’s a laundry list of reasons why I love this band, and they were all displayed during this performance. Fiery emotion, check. High energy, check. Soaring melodic vocals, check. Tight instrumental composition and devastating riffs, check. Vocalist Stephen Christian is by far one of the greatest young frontmen in any rock scene today. He commands the stage with a gripping presence, with his voice and movement grabbing everyone and refusing to let go. He’s definitely molded in the form of many great vocalists past, especially late Boston singer Brad Delp. The instrumentalists, especially guitarist Joe Milligan and drummer Nathan Young, were technically sound and delivered crisp brilliance in their play.

From “Paper Thin Hymn” to “Godspeed,” from “The Resistance” to “Feel Good Drag,” Anberlin chugged through their more well-known songs. It’s too bad the group had a shorter set, as they have four albums worth of high-quality material and and have the talent and following to headline a tour on their own. However, Anberlin had enough room to experiment a little bit. The yearning “Disappear” included extended synthesizer breaks, and speaking of synth, the set’s penultimate song was a very surprising, and overly epic New Order cover. I can’t tell you what the song was, though I wish I knew, because what I witnessed was a pseudo-prog rock face-melting synth-punk throwdown. With the way the synth and bass were pounding, and with Christian’s soaring vocals, I felt like I was at a Muse show for a few minutes. The cover was a great choice, it had people dancing and clapping, and it showed a little bit more of what Anberlin’s capable of.

I know this is just supposed to be a concert review, but I’d like to take time to state that Anberlin is a band that most fans of any kind of rock music should definitely check out. Some people claim they’re a punk band… yet they pay great tribute to AOR with precise composition and catchy hooks. Others yet say Anberlin are Christian rock… but I didn’t hear the word “Jesus” once in the entire performance. They’re definitely a band that’s hard to categorize, and that’s a great attribute, as they certainly have a broad appeal. I highly recommend to anyone reading this, to go out and buy Anberlin’s newest album New Surrender, or at least its best songs: “The Resistance,” “Breaking,” “Feel Good Drag,” “Disappear,” “Burn Out Brighter (Northern Lights),” “Breathe,” “Younglife,” and “Haight Street.”

Anberlin's "New Surrender"

Stephen Christian of Anberlin.

All good things must come to an end, and Anberlin left the stage to give way for the show’s headliner, Taking Back Sunday. I’ve never been very big into most of the groups that fall under the “emo” or “pop-punk” genre (for the record, I hate using genres to describe music, but it’s the best way to communicate to most people that have genre driven into their skull), so needless to say I haven’t listened to very much Taking Back Sunday. I’ve checked out some of their studio material, and while it’s good for what it is, it’s nothing I would buy or collect for myself.

Being the headliner, Taking Back Sunday had over an hour and a half to perform. They had no shortage of material, and packed their set with hit after hit. I expected a lot of songs similar to something right between Fall Out Boy and Jimmy Eat World, but I was surprised to hear a few songs get very heavy. I found myself thrashing my head as if I were at a Metallica show once every now and then. The band aren’t slouches at all when it comes to throwing down meaty riffs and aggressive rhythms.

There was plenty of room for improvement. Too many of Taking Back Sunday’s songs sounded “samey.” There wasn’t enough variety in the material to keep me interested. The guys were set to overdrive the whole time, and although that’s not a bad thing and it’s part of the music they make, I found myself yearning for something just a little bit different. Then again, I’m used to Porcupine Tree and Rush shows, so it’s hard for me to make myself appreciate something a little less experimental.

Massive props go out to Taking Back Sunday’s vocalist Adam Lazzara. The dude clearly believed in his music, and threw every mic-swinging trick this side of Roger Daltrey out in an attempt to energize the crowd; and it worked seamlessly. Taking Back Sunday will likely never enter the Rock Hall of Fame, win over critics, or pen an album on par with Born to Run or Abbey Road. That said, they certainly perform with a robust edge, and have fun doing it. The fans get just what they wanted and needed, and even though I’m not a fan, I thoroughly enjoyed their show and wouldn’t object to seeing them again. I wouldn’t go out of my way for them though, and do believe Anberlin should headline and hope that they will in the future.

Thanks for reading my first concert review on this blog.. hopefully there will be more concert trips made very soon, more music discovered, and more memories made.

Adam Lazzara, Taking Back Sunday's energetic frontman

Advertisements