Taking Back Sunday,
with The Menzingers & letlive.
Upstate Concert Hall; Clifton Park, NY
Sunday, March 15th 2015
Sunday night was a story of three pretty different bands for me, in terms of my relationships or histories with them.
First, there was letlive. – a band I had only had the chance to see for a brief moment a summer or two ago, and has since been near the top of my “most-wanted” list. Second, The Menzingers, whom I had heard of extensively but had never had the opportunity to watch. And lastly, there was Taking Back Sunday, a group that I have followed and respected since I was a middle schooler. For as varied
as my experiences (or lack thereof) with these three were, I was allowing myself a clean mental slate.
As the house lights fell, the photographers in the pit made their last-minute adjustments and got ready. Something had led me to believe
The Menzingers were billed as the first opener, so as letlive. took the stage, I was confused for a moment. Within the first notes of their opening song, they quickly shook off any uncertainty that anybody, myself included, may have had. Their thirty-minute set was heavy, raw, emotional, and energetic. Before their second song had come to a finish, Jason Butler found himself in the crowd, leaping the photo pit and letting the audience support him, both vocally and physically.
Weaving his microphone cord through the ceiling rafters, Butler spoke: “This next song, I wrote when I was younger.” He began to loop the cord around his neck: “A man put his hands on my mother, to harm her,” he said, pulling tighter, “so I put my hands on his shoulders. And I put his head through a car window. Whether it was the right way to handle it or not, if I had the chance to live it again, you’re fucking right I would do it the same.” With that, cheers filled the room as the guitar introduction to “Muther” began.
When it was time for their shot at the crowd, The Menzingers wasted no time. Throughout the duration of a 40-minute performance, the band paused only a handful of times, briefly – a short “Let’s hear it for the guys in letlive.!” after their first four songs, followed by a quick “And who’s ready for Taking Back Sunday!?” two songs later. What made this set so much fun to watch was the band’s ability to enthrall their audience while not spending too much time addressing them. And while that may sound like a bad thing, it kept the focus on what matters most – the music and the performance.
At a little after 9, Taking Back Sunday took the stage to a roar of applause. Seconds into “Flicker, Fade,” the room was theirs for the
next ninety minutes.
Followed by “What’s It Feel Like to Be A Ghost?” and “Number Five With A Bullet” (my all-time personal favorite), the five-piece stitched three eras of the band’s career into a 10-minute series, opening with their latest single, then reaching further back into their catalog. Though we didn’t get the snow that the forecast had predicted, the flashing strobes and scattered backlighting helped create a blizzard of light and sound inside.
After being around for as long as they have, Taking Back Sunday’s sets have the potential for being a “Greatest Hits” of sorts. Though they weren’t played in succession, when it came time for “A Decade Under the Influence,” “You’re So Last Summer,” and “Liar (It Takes One to Know One),” each built on the intensity of what came before, leading to a handful of highlights.
With as many standout moments as there were, one ranks just that extra bit higher than the rest. Before closing with a stellar performance of “MakeDamnSure,” the classic guitar riff of “Cute Without The ‘E’” ripped through the venue and the room instantly began to move. As Lazzara began singing the bridge, muttering “Hoping for the best, just hoping nothing happens; a thousand clever lines unread on clever napkins,” the instruments cut out and the crowd instinctively began shouting in unison “Why can’t I feel
anything for anyone other than you?” while Lazzara conducted.
Like I mentioned earlier, I made it a point to not hold onto previous opinions, though positive, and let the night speak for itself. This turned out to be a wise decision, with my already-high expectations being exceeded. I’d have to think pretty hard to remember a three-act concert that delivered as well as this tour did. From the moment letlive. took the stage, through the entirety of The Menzingers’ performance, and until the last notes of “MakeDamnSure,” the building buzzed. There was no time wasted testing the waters, nor did the energy fade during the (extremely quick, I must say) set changes. All in all, it was just a hell of a show from a trio of bands who know precisely what they’re doing.