Bayside isn’t local, but the Long Island band certainly made Vegas a second home over their 17 year history. Their show at Vinyl inside the Hard Rock Hotel this past October was the band’s second gig in a year’s span (third,if you count frontman Anthony Raneri’s solo show at Backstage Bar & Billiards last December). But this show was a little different than their usual affair.
Bayside first played Vegas in 2006, shortly after a van accident took the life of drummer John “Beatz” Holohan and seriously injured bassist Nick Ghanbarian. Not long after that show, the band released The Walking Wounded, their first album with Bayside’s current lineup that features drummer Chris Guglielmo. That album helped push the band into the mainstream: the album’s first single “Duality” gained airplay on MTV, leading to their first television performance, which was playing the song on Conan’ O’Brien’s show.
To honor that time in their life, Bayside decided to play the album all the way through, and their cult of fans, many of whom learned of the band due to the album’s popularity, came out and were eager to sing along. They got their chance right away, singing “I’m weak like a one-armed boxer / Throwing punch after punch” louder than Raneri, who was sporting a massive smile after the band took the stage. Listening to that song now, it’s easy to hear why it was such a turning point for the band; the key changes and “Fiddler on the Roof” style musical theatre influences were a departure from the Smoking Popes/Alkaline Trio punk rock of their earlier two full lengths and set the stage for their sound for the rest of their career.
Songs like “They’re Not Horses, They’re Unicorns” and the aforementioned “Duality” unsurprisingly garnered more massive sing alongs from the cult but it was more interesting to me finally hearing songs like “Thankfully,” “A Rite of Passage” and “(Pop)Ular SciencE” live again. Despite how popular this record is among Bayside fans, the band usually ignores the back third live. Hopefully the warm reaction shared by the rest of the fans encourages the band to rotate these songs into play? more often.
The band returned shortly after “SciencE” for an encore of non-Wounded songs, with a heavy focus on that albums’ self-titled producer. As much as I enjoy Wounded, self-titled is the album that turned me on to the band and will always be my favorite, so it was great hearing “Blame It on Bad Luck,” “Montauk” and “Devotion and Desire” at the end. Much of the crowd seemed to be of the same mind, fists in the air as they sang every word.
Bayside’s first tour for Wounded was with emo band Anberlin and subsequent tours saw groups like future post-hardcore stars A Day to Remember assume the opening slot. So it was somewhat surprising that punk rockers Sharp/Shock, signed to Matt Skiba’s Heart & Skull Records and fresh off a tour with ska/punks The Interrupters, were chosen to open the tour. I would have expected another Victory Records refugee, or at least another veteran of the early aughts? emo/pop punk explosion.
The band was a lot of fun, though, with the highlight of the band’s set being their cover of “Police on My Back,” a song originally performed by the Equals but made famous by The Clash. The Clash make everything better but this version was special, as the band brought out Brendan Scholz or Vegas’ own Mercy Music to play guitar, continually reminding the crowd that he’s “the best guitarist in Vegas.”
Photos by Aaron Mattern | https://www.flickr.com/photos/akmofoto/