I've talked in the past about longevity, but I don't think I've ever really expanded on that idea beyond, "Well, this band has put out so many albums and are still around and blah blah blah..." just sounding like a completely uneducated douche. After seeing Thursday and Thrice this year, longevity means something more to me. I've touched on it with what I said about Thursday, and I have some words about Thrice's tour coming this week (but that has more to do with progression and time), I want to focus on what individual reasons make a band last and never dry up when everything is always not in their favor.
Starting the night was Transit's thirty minute set riding high off the release of their new album. It's not that I didn't like Listen and Forgive (the lyrics are great and the hooks and progression was great) but the production gloss killed it a bit for me. Needless to say, that gloss doesn't shine live and the songs' grittier live versions were definitely more favorable. This is a band that has a lot ahead of them if they can keep up the pace.
I Am the Avalanche's set was bold. This bout of longevity is interesting in itself for this band. The next step after The Movielife's already herald existence in the hardcore scene, Vinnie Caruana can pick-up an acoustic guitar or front an even heavier version of his past and still has the ability to continue to move forward through shitty labels issues and even tougher - keeping up attention with the passing of time when other bands are holding the revolving spotlight. Great set that definitely brought the mosh for many.
On the night of Through Being Cool's 12th year anniversary, Saves the Day continued to show that nothing can kill the band: labels, member changes, pissed off fans that are stuck in the past. Beginning the night from their anniversary record, "All-Star Me" had this bitter old asshole singing loud and pumping his fist in the air. Seeing "Daybreak" live made a thought snap like a twig in my head - Chris Conley has always had a knack for just writing the worst feelings and burying them under some of the best pop-rock music around. The band is tighter than ever and looked like they have a couple of more years in them. The excitement of the 10th anniversary of Daybreak will be amazing to see one day.
I will admit that I've never been a Bayside fan. I think the band and their music is great, and to see the shit they have had to overcome over the years and still push on is incredible. I saw the band on the Take Action Tour earlier this year and it was one of the best sets I've seen from a band I'm not into. That speaks something in itself. I had a discussion with my friend the other day about Bayside fans though, and how into Bayside they are. The band has some of the most dedicated fans around. I think that has more than anything to do with how they can continue ticking against the industry elements that drag so many down. Seeing three people outside the bus after the show singing their heart out to get the band to come sign and autograph says it all.
With the elements of the ever changing music industry, the one thing bands need to rely on is being humble in having those diehard fans. I've been thinking the last few days if there are other elements, and I'm sure I can make a laundry list of them, but instead I'm going to leave it at that. If you want to see your favorite bands thrive - continue doing what you're doing and support the hell out of them. That's something in this industry that's never going to change - their passion given back through your own.
What's the key to good songwriting? What's the real key to great songwriting? Is it the intricacies of marking down a vague palette of feeling, or is it as straightforward as you can get the ideas to flow out of your head? Are the best songwriters poets or are the even better ones worth a more direct, honest connection? Listening to Saves the Day's Daybreak rest any doubt that Chris Conley may be one of the best songwriters of our generation. It's not how he went from crafting well executed punk numbers, but how his direct "heart-on-the-sleeve" approach is absolutely undeniable - and he may be the best in the game when articulating something easily relatable - no matter how hyperbolic his words may seem to be when they come across to the listener.
I finally got around to listening to the "trilogy" (2006's Sound the Alarm, 2007's Under the Boards and this year's Daybreak) at work the other night, and I think I was taken back for a minute once it was all done and the closing ballad (I use that term loosely) of "Undress Me" floats off. The anger from the start; to picking up the scattered pieces of frustration; to finding some sort of solace - but not without still questioning a few thoughts rolling inside your head and harboring still a bit of desperation in the face of despair and uncertainty - Saves the Day crafted a wonderful piece of frailty and unrest which is all led by Conley's honesty. As I thought getting through the whole thing would be a little over- or even underwhelming, it's Conley's storyline and honesty that's the best part.
I've come to the conclusion that the trilogy as a whole is really a growth in adolescence to adulthood:
- Sound the Alarm is the aggressive, teenage angst part of our lives we've all experienced. We're pissed about a lot of things, "everyone should just fuck off," and so on with scattered fits here and there. We're unhappily blaming others, blaming ourselves and "not giving a fuck" about a lot of things we generally reflect back on and laugh at how childish we truly were in those years.
- Under the Boards is when we start to figure it all out to some extent. We're picking at our faults and trying to find out where we went wrong and at some times, just want to give up and blame ours actions the most in the end. We try to be honest with ourselves and the ones around us, but sometimes we tend to get exhausted with our actions that emotionally implode inward. Those times in our lives - at our darkest moments - where we tend to just want to stay in bed and cut ourselves from the outside world for a couple of extra hours, days or weeks. We've all been through these times, and generally they're recurring more than you want to believe for some. At the very least, we're trying to find some sort of answer in all of it. We're past Sound the Alarm's spats of aggression without thinking first, but we're not past its downside just yet.
- Daybreak. It's the real growth where we finally realize our faults, but we now know that we can be an adult about it and will end up fighting for what we really want. We have a vision and everything is much clearer to an extent. We're still human and we still have trials in our life to go through: harder relationship problems, keeping close friendships, marriage, parenthood, etc. All the while, there's a moment in our lives where we try to forgive. All those false-quick emotions/reactions we left buried inside has made us slightly bitter in some way and has left us with a since of regret but wanting to reach out and rectify our earlier accounts. Daybreak still contains some bleak moments, but I think it's still the most honest of moments where there's reflection and understanding and a chance to possibly change the past for the best. We can't actually see any sort of closure without admitting our true feelings about any subject past and present.
Daybreak is a close second to my favorite Saves the Day record to date. When I heard Stay What You Are, it stuck as a quirky pop number of honest feelings with a bit of exaggeration laid throughout. I was still a teenager. I didn't know shit. As I look back at the entire catalog - the last three Saves the Day records are Chris Conley's best penmanship of being upfront about how he truly feels, and he has crafted quite a rare thing these days. Not only three individual albums that reflect a specific growth spurt or moment, but each one has its own specific feeling. More importantly, the albums tie together perfectly (listen to "Kaliedescope" through "Deranged and Desperate" - that could be one record in itself). There really doesn't feel like too much of a gap between them: Anger, self-frustration and uncertainty and then acceptance and reflection.
An old friend of mine might be one of the biggest Saves the Day fans I know. We've had kind of a falling out in the past couple of years. Listening through these three albums has given me a framework to appreciate just that one relationship in my life between her and I. (I remember her obsession with wanting to hear "Hold" on the reg.) I'm beginning to think about others too as the days have gone by. Why do I think Chris Conley is one of the best songwriters? Because the best songwriters are ones who make us think past the music - they are muses to help reflect on our lives. For some of you at an early age, that may (unfortunately) be a lot of bands that I hate. Wait about 10-15 years later though - trust me. Are they still making music? Do they still have something worthy to say? Do you connect with their entire catalog and/or newer releases some time later as you do today? Just wait...you won't even remember some of the songs on your old playlists. I promise you.
It's hard to think that 10 years ago, I went into a local FYE and picked up two records: Sum 41's Half Hour of Power and New Found Glory's self-titled album. After 10 years, let's all take a guess which album gets frequent spins. I have not seen New Found Glory play since Warped Tour 2002. For them to whip through a little over a half hour (of power) and then come back for a second set of career spanning songs...
Yeah, it was that awesome.
Taking the stage first were openers Fireworks. The last time I caught the band was on their opening slot on the Gig Life Tour last year, and I can honestly say the band sounds much better this time around. A lot of the sloppy work I heard in last year's set has been cleaned up, and for the band, more people were fist pumping and singing along to the show - very positive.
Hellogoodbye are one big bag of super nerdom wrapped in fun pop. After shaking out some older hits, the band digressed into some new material, and though I wasn't a huge fan of the band's previous work, they've definitely stepped things up. I think once we finally see a release (the band is still unsure when that will be at the time of question last night), it will take older fans by surprise, and I believe bring in newer fans as well. Promising is the word here folks.
Speaking of nostalgia, last night was the first time I had ever caught Saves the Day. In our interview, it seems, from the spirit of the band and the way they were talking about Daybreak being "Phase 2" of that particular sprawling career, the long awaited completion to the trilogy has officially been shot to the high end of my anticipated list. I think it'll be an album that will take many of us off guard, but in a very positive way. The band burned through a career of songs, and for any fan, it definitely solidified a bar of recognition and respect. I'm ready for "Phase 2."
It seems, no matter what life throws at us, pop-punk always had the answers. More than not, those answers involved girls and adolescent behavior. I guess we never grow up, no matter how hard we try. Like some continue to visit their Cure, Descendants and Mineral albums for those answers, I continue to sift through New Found Glory's catalog. The rush of the crowd said it all last night. It was younger kids only discovering the album for the first time a few years ago, and older kids like myself embracing the textbook that was the band's launching pad.
Last night wasn't about looking down at age, but regressing back to memories. Whether those memories were, or still are bitter. It's about realizing the personality you once embodied and the faults that still exist. Last night was an aura that won't be forgotten for a long time after the music progresses, bands eventually call it quits, and we continue to latch onto an eventual reunion.
Time can only tell who will still hold as a memory, or who will fade away short term. Maybe subjective isn't the word, maybe we should say music is simply heartfelt, and the music that is the most heartfelt will stand the test of time.
[ed. note: I didn't get close enough for pictures and I didn't pay attention to set lists....I was having too much fun enjoying the show.]
Last week was hell. Sure, through the muck, I was able to pull some flowers from it, but by Sunday night, I was worn down.
Today I had the pleasure of interviewing two amazing bands. One band involved in my book, and the other was Saves the Day. This was a sit down with the full band to discuss the new line-up and our eventual delivery of Daybreak - the final installment in the band's album trilogy.
Within the interview, Chris Connelly says something about the album being something beautiful growing from the muck of something negative. Within the context of the first two parts of the series, Daybreak, and the way the band describes it, has now been put into my most anticipated spot.
Connelly and I also had a side conversation about negativity that spawned up from a question in the interview about bands being progressive in this state of martyrdom. Why be negative, when you can just be positive? Why comment on how much you hate an album or band, when you can talk about how much you love an album or want people to check out an up and coming band?
The ideas of the conversation were simple, but it relates a lot to the future of Absolutepunk.net to me. I know I've talked about this topic with interviews from Say Anything, AFI and Converge. The future in a coding sense is what I am least worried about for this site.
There's still a film of negativity (not including the casual disagreement or personal opinion), but just absolute vice towards artists, bands and music in general bleeding through this site.
If there's one thing I want to see change about this site, it's an attitude amongst users. I know, "If you can't handle the forums, then stay the fuck out!" Well, why keep people and discussion out, when it's so much more effective for music to pull people in.
Today, under the muck of last week, I experienced Daybreak. Life is cyclical, and sometimes there aren't answers for the negativity that runs through, but guaranteed, if more positivity is put on spin...those clothes will come out feeling warm and loving.