When I arrived at Vinyl, I couldn’t quite discern whether the room was nearly unnavigable due to enthusiasm for opening band Reggie and the Full Effect, or if it was simply due to this being a sold-out show in a small, 650 capacity room.
I quickly realized it was a bit of both the moment frontman James Dewees (The Get Up Kids, My Chemical Romance) went into “Happy V-Day.” There were moments where I wasn’t sure if I had accidentally stumbled into a musical comedy. Even if you’re not quite into Reggie’s sound, Dewees still leaves you wondering what’s coming to you next, if it’s going to be a song about the Loch Ness Monster getting a divorce in “Get Well Soon,” or if he’s going to hit you with an unreleased song, like “Alone Again.”
After more than twenty years of performing, this is clearly all second nature to DeWees, and it was fun hearing him reminisce about being in Vegas with The Get Up Kids, doing coke for the first time at Cheetahs and having their Australian tour manager collect them at 10 a.m. the day after.
“Life is not a spark in space, an episode of Will & Grace, controversial yet mundane, Debra’s messing with your brain” rang though the room, slow, and deliberately. Frontman Max Bemis presented each syllable with care before bursting into the usual, frantic, high energy set that you expect from Say Anything.
Bemis made sure to mention that “Bayside is a cult,” but it’s really not at all far-fetched to argue that Say Anything could also claim that title. They’ve been playing together for longer than some of the lives in their very audience, with their ongoing success likely due to the fact that they’re unwilling to rest on the laurels of their Is A Real Boy… hit album. Bemis used his stage time to not only play a full twelve song set, but to connect with the audience at the barricade, and speak candidly about mental illness, prior drug abuse, his current home life in Texas, and the infamous slut shaming. “I Hate Everyone” was a particular setlist highlight for me, featuring a different intro than the studio album, which is one of my favorite things when seeing a live band – watching them play those songs you have grown to love, while exploring different, and at times, more favorable options.
Bayside definitely has a cult following everywhere, but that always feels particularly true of Las Vegas. While other bands oftentimes complain about low attendance here and skip us on tours, Bayside sold out their Vegas show, off the Strip, on the night after they didn’t sell out a show in Los Angeles. With fans squished elbow to elbow, frontman Anthony Raneri started off against the barricade when one spotlight came on, making the moment even more intimate during self-titled album track “They Looked Like Strong Hands.” Being the professionals they are, they didn’t let mixer issues during the first portion of the set get to them, and they were able to engage with the fans all the way to the back with crowd-pleaser “Blame It On Bad Luck,” and “Mary” being definite stand outs.
I was happy to see that Cult seems to have aged well with the fans. Although it received generally favorable reception at the time of release, it seemed to be more well favored than I remembered from prior shows. Portions of their set had me thinking that this is what Transit could have accomplished, if they had done a better job with their last record. I recognized a lot of faces in the crowd of people who go to a lot of shows around town, but the room was also noticeably filled with strangers, which always makes me happy. Or perhaps it’s possible that I’m no longer our “Summer Intern,” and have become a boring adult with a cubicle that’s too tired to go to weekday shows anymore. It happens to all of us.
-Hunter Wallace | https://www.flickr.com/photos/hunter_wallace/