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Sleepless Nights & Sing Alongs
Show Review: Vans Warped Tour 2014 (Mansfield, MA)
07/13/14 at 06:26 PM by Alex DiVincenzo

The Vans Warped Tour celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, and a lot has changed in those two decades. One thing that has been consistent for the last several years is people complaining about the line-up. While it's undeniable that the tour's focus has shifted, the adaptation is an easy one to make. As with past years, the 2014 roster boats plenty of old favorites in addition to today's hot acts and up-and-comers.

I went the Mansfield, MA stop at the Xfinity Center on July 10, 2014, where I ended up catching only portions of many sets because where was simply too many good bands playing. Even still, I missed several acts I wanted to see - but there's always next year.

I had heard positive buzz about K.Flay from multiple artists on the tour, so I decided to check her out. Born Kristine Flaherty, K.Flay is a young, female rapper. She was accompanied by a drummer for a fuller live sound. She was among the first acts of the day, taking the Beatport stage at 11:15 in the morning. Many curious passers by couldn't help but stop as they entered the venue among the hordes of people. Like me, they did not leave disappointed.

Those "No Moshing/Crowd Surfing" signs - which made headlines when the tour began - were affixed to every stage, but the rules were not enforced. In fact, many people seemed to take it as a challenge. I first saw the mosh pits open up for The Ghost Inside, who took one of the two main stages at 11:40. (Vocalist Jonathan Vigil confessed to the crowd, "I just woke up a half hour ago.") The hardcore dancing did not stop there, as they were followed by The Devil Wears Prada on the adjacent stage.

Speaking of moshing, Every Time I Die kicked off the afternoon with an excellent set. They brought their main stage-quality material and audience to the slightly smaller Monster Stage. Similarly, UK pop-punk act Neck Deep have already built a sizable following here in the States, as evident by the crowd they brought to the Kevin Says Stage.

One of my favorite recent additions to the Warped Tour is the Acoustic Basement, which affords fans the opportunity to see intimate, acoustic performances from musicians both established and unknown. Bayside frontman Anthony Raneri packed the tent with a solo set before his band played later in the day. The guy is a workhorse; even performing twice a day for the whole tour, he never disappoints. Raneri even invited a fan on stage to propose to his girlfriend during his set.

Up next was Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties, the side project of The Wonder Years vocalist Dan "Soupy" Campbell. It was one of his first solo shows, but his years of fronting The Wonder Years have made him a natural performer. Campbell put a unique spin on the set by performing in character as his alter ego, the lonely Aaron West, introducing each song with a fictitious story behind it. His debut album, We Don't Have Each Other, was released only a couple days prior, so audience participation was minimal, but the crowd respectfully sat back and absorbed the enveloping performance.

I stuck around for a few songs from MxPx frontman Mike Herrera. MxPx recently celebrated their 22nd anniversary with an acoustic collection, so Herrera was happy to bust out the classics. I split early to see a couple of songs from Enter Shikari. Although the band's electronic-metalcore hybrid is not my cup of tea on record, I love their action-packed live show.

Regardless of how you feel about their music, Bowling For Soup has one of the most entertaining live shows you'll see on Warped Tour. They rarely tour these days, so I relished the opportunity to catch them on the main stage. Their setlist was mainly comprised of the hits along a cover of Fountains of Wayne's "Stacy's Mom," but it's their between-song banter that keeps me coming back. "We're the band that waves to people," vocalist/guitarist Jaret Reddick told the crowd. "Try to get Falling In Reverse to wave to you later." It's like getting a mini stand-up comedy show in the middle of a concert.

I caught several other classic bands in the afternoon. Yellowcard are as tight as ever. Less Than Jake proudly told the audience that they've played Warped Tour more than any other band since 1997, but they somehow have the same high level of energy. Saves the Day allowed tourmates Four Year Strong to pick that day's setlist, which was loaded with fan favorites. New drummer Dennis Wilson (ex-Every Avenue) seems to be fitting in just fine.

I was sadly only able to see a few songs from Heart To Heart, but it was perhaps the most passionate performance I witnessed all day. It was intense enough to encourage vocalist Nick Zoppo to subconsciously tear off his shirt Hulk Hogan style. ("I really liked that shirt," he confessed after the song. "I just bought it yesterday.") I strongly urge anyone attending Warped Tour to stop by their set.

Punk rock is alive and well on Warped Tour, as exemplified by Teenage Bottlerocket. The band is somewhat of a caricature of punk, flipping the audience off and calling them posers in between their infectious, bite-sized, Ramones-esque punk tunes. At the end of their set, they played a medley featuring Van Halen's "Panama" and the Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop" "for anyone over 30."

It must really be nice to be Four Year Strong right now. Following a panned album and a couple years off, they have regrouped and returned as strong as ever. Their homestate fans were eager to have their bearded brethren back. They displayed great intensity per usual, with co-vocalist/guitarist Alan Day making his way onto the barricade during opener "What the Hell is a Gigawatt?" to get closer to the crowd. Their set concluded with their irresistibly catchy summer anthem, "Wasting Time (Eternal Summer)."

Speaking of locals, I have to mention the Break Thru Music stage, which was exclusive to the Mansfield date. It hosted talented acts from the area all day, including Lions Lions (who carelessly toss their instruments as much as they play them), Traditions, Raindance, Actor Observer and Class of 92 (A Loss For Words vocalist Matty Arsenault's side project).

The Story So Far and Bayside both went on at 7:15, so I caught half of each band's set. The Story So Far brought a huge throng of enthusiastic fans. Singer Parker Cannon sounds great live, and thankfully there were no security issues. Bayside were in the amphitheater, but they certainly received a main stage-worthy reception from their fans. Raneri was just as impressive with his bandmates as he was solo.

I stayed in the amphitheater to watch some of Cute Is What We Aim For, an old guilty pleasure who seemingly fell off the face of the earth with Myspace. Frontman Shaant Hacikyan addressed the time away: "It's been seven years since we've been on this tour, and to be honest we didn't think this many people would show up." Much to the audience's satisfaction, they played a lot of old favorites.

As the sun was setting, I saw Close Your Eyes, who were one of the final acts of the day. It turned out to be among the most energetic performances I saw at the show, and it was a strong contender for most punk jumps during a set. I thought the cramped Ernie Ball Stage stage might collapse under the melodic hardcore band. They had a relatively small but loyal pocket of fans who waited the entire day to see them. Vocalist Sam Ryder Robinson spent closer "Song for the Broken" singing along with them from the barricade.

2014 signifies 20 years of the Vans Warped Tour, but every year is a celebration for Kevin Lyman and company. As always, they have compiled an impressive line-up of bands ranging from seasoned veterans to fresh faces and everyone in between.

See all of my Warped Tour 2014 photos.
Tags: review, warped tour, bayside, four year strong, yellowcard, the story so far
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Show Review: Bayside, Man Overboard, Banquets, Modern Baseball (Boston, MA)
12/31/13 at 08:45 AM by Alex DiVincenzo

The holidays can be a hectic time, but what better way to release that seasonal stress than with a show? Bayside spread the Christmas cheer with a trio of holiday shows to close out 2013, culminating with a sold out performance at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston, MA on December 29. They brought along Man Overboard, Banquets and Modern Baseball for the ride.

Bayside plowed through several songs before addressing the crowd. When they finally did introduce themselves, it was clear that they needed no introduction. There's a reason they say Bayside is a cult, after all. The band played at bigger venues the last few times they came through the area, so it was a treat for the sold out crowd of 933 to see them at the Paradise.

I'm not holding my breath for a Sirens and Condolences 10th anniversary tour next year, but I'm happy the band still pulls from it; this time it was "How to Fix Everything." On the other end of the spectrum, they played "Pigsty," the new single from their forthcoming sixth album, Cult, for only the second time. I was hoping to hear another new cut or two, as the record is great, but alas the band stuck to the tried-and-true favorites, such as "Devotion and Desire," "Montauk" and "Dualty." Much like they did when they supported Alkaline Trio earlier in the year, they closed with "Dear Tragedy," during which frontman Anthony Raneri sang without his signature Les Paul.

It seems that the Boston set was a few song shorter than the 2 other nights, lacking the acoustic "Don't Call Me Peanut" and the group's rendition of "O Holy Night," among others. No word on whether this was a scheduling blunder or what, but had I not read the previous setlists I would have been none the wiser. The hour-and-ten-minute set with its strong setlist was very satisfying.

Man Overboard provided direct support, and they brought plenty of fans eager to defend pop punk with them. The New Jersey quintet always deliver a fun set, with Boston always being receptive to them, and this was no exception. The band has released an impressive array of material in 5 short years, and their setlist drew from all of it. In addition to newer material, they played several older cuts - among them "The Real You," "I Ate My Gluestick," "Montrose" and the singalong favorite "Love Your Friends, Die Laughing" - before closing with "Where I Left You."

It seems that most of the audience members were new to Banquets, but that didn't stop either side from enjoying themselves. The band's sound bridges the gap between punk and rock, reminiscent of fellow New Jerseyans The Gaslight Anthem. They spent little time talking and focused more on rocking. The setlist drew largely from their self-titled effort, ending with the high-energy highlight, "Call It a Comeback."

Modern Baseball opened the show with a half hour set that included the majority of their fantastic debut album, Sports. They also threw in "Your Graduation," the first single from the upcoming You're Gonna Miss It All. Between the new album on Run For Cover Records and a highly coveted spot opening for The Wonder Years on the horizon, I expect Modern Baseball to be everywhere in 2014. The band received a warm reception from the crowd.

Bayside have a huge year ahead of them, with the release of Cult on February 18 and a headlining tour kicking off in March, so it only made sense for them to end 2013 in a big way. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better way to end the year than watching Bayside rock a sold out crowd with a great line-up in tow.

Bayside setlistAlready Gone
They're Not Horses, They're Unicorns
Devotion and Desire
A Call To Arms
How to Fix Everything
Seeing Sound
The Walking Wounded
Roshambo (Rock, Paper, Scissors)
It's Not a Bad Little War
Landing Feet First
Sick, Sick, Sick
Dear Tragedy
Tags: review, Bayside, Man Overboard, Banquets, Modern Baseball
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Show Review: Alkaline Trio, Bayside, Off With Their Heads (Boston, MA)
05/21/13 at 12:00 PM by Alex DiVincenzo

Alkaline Trio is a band I have greatly admired since my youth, but, for whatever reason, I had only ever seen live them at Warped Tour. I was eager to rectify this, so I knew I had to attend their recent stop at the House of Blues in Boston, MA on March 18th. The show landed in the middle of their current tour in support of My Shame Is True, their latest effort and (I would argue) their best in a decade, with support from Bayside and Off With Their Heads.

Like their albums as of late, Alkaline Trio's set was heavy with material with guitarist Matt Skiba on vocals. Clad in black, accented by pink Converse shoes, an inverted cross necklace and a fedora, Skiba commanded the audience. Bassist Dan Andriano also had his share of gems, and his voice was on point. Both singers added fresh backing vocals and harmonization to some of the older material when they weren't doing leads. Derek Grant, an increasingly integral element in the band, rounded out the group with his precision behind the drumkit.

The band came out with the punchy, Ramones-esque "She Lied to the FBI." It's the first track on My Shame Is True, and it makes an equally-great live opener. They went on to perform 20 songs in about 80 minutes, ranging from their latest material to old favorites. As a band with such a vast and beloved catalog, it was nice to hear them break out some deep cuts.

Perhaps this is just wishful thinking, but I'm hoping the inclusion of lesser-known Good Mourning tracks, such as "Blue Carolina" and "Donner Party," was primer for a 10th anniversary tour later this year. Other fan favorites included "Hell Yes," "Clavicle," "My Friend Peter" and "Crawl." One unexpected addition was an electric version of "Olde English 800," a catchy ditty from their acoustic album, Damnesia. I'd love to hear them record the full-band version, as it sounded great.

Although they exited the stage following "This Could Be Love," the Chicago punks returned a moment later for the best three-song encore for which a fan could ask. They came out blazing with "Cringe," followed by the beloved "Radio," which turned into a giant singalong, before closing with the first song they ever wrote as band, "97."

Bayside spent the early years of their career being endlessly compared to Alkaline Trio, pairing them together for a tour is a no brainer. They teamed up once before in 2008, and five years later both groups are as strong as ever. Bayside's supporting slot lasted 45 minutes, but the positive audience response made them look like co-headliners. Although their setlist hasn't varied much over the years, they mixed it up enough this time around to keep things interesting for returning fans and new listeners alike.

For starters, the band kicked off with "Devotion and Desire," which is often reserved for the closer. They also busted out an electric cover of Smoking Popes' "Megan," which they dedicated to Alkaline Trio. They didn't play longtime staple "Blame It on Bad Luck," instead ending with a curveball, "Dear Tragedy." Frontman Anthony Raneri passed off his guitar to a crew member and just sang the closer, something I had never seen him do. He seemed to enjoy the freedom and rocked it like a true frontman. At the end of the set, Raneri told those who hadn't heard the band before, "If you like what you hear, go home and download the records, then come back to the next show."

Alkaline Trio's Epitaph Records labelmates Off With Their Heads opened the show. Not unlike the Trio's old cohorts in Hot Water Music, the band's ferocious punk rock stylings are anchored by guitarist Ryan Young's gruff vocals. They didn't waste much time talking, instead packing as many songs as they could into their half hour allotment, drawing largely from this year's Home.

Although the majority of the audience members were unfamiliar with the material, many were converted by the end of the set. The band sent "Self Checkout" out to local heroes Dropkick Murphys and later dedicated "Jamie" to Bayside and the anthemic "Drive" to Alkaline Trio for taking them out on tour. They closed with the brutally honest "Clear the Air," and Young made the crowd believe him when he sang, "God damnit, I'm falling apart!"

During Alkaline Trio's set, Andriano stated this might be the best tour they've ever done, which is saying a lot considering their extensive history. Skiba was quick to one-up his partner's sentiment by saying that this was the best show of the tour. "You can't lie with YouTube these days," he quipped. "I shit you not!" The band has been at it for 17 years now, and their set proved that they haven't lost any steam. From new material to fan favorites and deep cuts in between, there's no shame for Alkaline Trio.

Alkaline Trio setlistShe Lied to the FBI
Hell Yes
If We Never Go Inside
Donner Party (All Night)
I'm Only Here To Disappoint
Olde English 800
San Francisco
I Wanna Be a Warhol
Trucks And Trains
Blue Carolina
The Torture Doctor
My Friend Peter
Young Lovers
This Could Be Love

Bayside setlistDevotion and Desire
The Walking Wounded
Tortures of the Damned
Sick, Sick, Sick
Already Gone
Seeing Sound
We'll Be OK
Megan (Smoking Popes cover)
Dear Tragedy

See all of my photos from the show here.
Tags: review, alkaline trio, bayside, off with their heads
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Show Review: Taking Back Sunday, Bayside, The Menzingers (Providence, RI)
11/27/12 at 06:42 PM by Alex DiVincenzo
Taking Back Sunday's 2002 debut, Tell All Your Friends, is undeniably important to our beloved music scene. The instant classic seemed to resonate with every dejected teenager who listened. (As a hopeless romantic myself, I recall pouring over the heart-on-sleeve lyrics in my formative years.) With a combination of raw energy, chemistry, brutally honest lyrics and complementary dual vocals, the band captured lightning in a bottle. A decade later, they are releasing that lightning on the TAYF10 Tour, on which they're performing the album in its entirety. I caught the November 20th stop at Lupo's in Providence, RI.

The brief but strong line-up kicked off with The Menzingers. The band put out what is, for my money, the album of the year, On the Impossible Past, but this was my first time experiencing them live. Musically, they're not a far cry from the Americana rock of The Gaslight Anthem with a dash of Alkaline Trio, and their performance was as strong as those comparisons. Their half-hour set mostly consisted of cuts from On the Impossible Past - including my two favorites, "Obituaries" (with which they opened) and the anthemic "Casey." They closed with an older favorite, "I Was Born."

Bayside has become one of my favorite bands without me even realizing it, due to their impressive consistency. I've loved them since their debut album (Is it too early to star campaigning for a Sirens and Condolences anniversary tour in 2014?) and have seen them a many times over the years. They never disappoint; every album they put out and every show they put on is solid. This performance was no different.

It was essentially 45 minutes of fan favorites, including "Blame It On Bad Luck," "Duality," "Masterpiece," "Sick Sick Sick," "Carry On" and closer "Devotion and Desire." Frontman Anthony Raneri mentioned how Bayside came from the same Long Island scene as Taking Back Sunday and thanked them for paving the way and everything else they had done for them, whether they realized it or not, in the last 10 years.

Unlike most full album shows, Taking Back Sunday opened with the "greatest hits" portion before getting to the album. I prefer this approach, as it makes the album feel like the main event - which it is. They played 8 songs, including "MakeDamnSure," "A Decade Under The Influence," "Liar (It Takes One To Know One)" and "El Paso." Longtime friend of the band Neil Rubenstein was in attendance and lent his voice to the latter. He also stuck around to perform the backing vocals he recorded on Tell All You Friends; a welcome addition to an already-exciting line-up.

Although they had already witnessed half a set from Taking Back Sunday, the audience erupted as soon as Lazzara came in with "So sick, so sick of being tired..." from Tell All Your Friends opener "You Know How I Do." They loved all 90 minutes of the band's performance, but the single loudest moment of the night came during "Cute Without the 'E' (Cut from the Team)" when the instruments dropped out for a chill-induing crowd singalong of "Why can't I feel anything from anyone other than you?"

Lazzara made his way into the crowd about halfway through the album and remained their for a handful of songs. He allowed the crowd to sing with him, danced atop the bar and eventually made his way up the balcony, all while his microphone chord zigzagged around the venue. (He's known for his mic swinging, after all.) Lazzara actually sounded better during the former half of the set, but he seemed to enjoy revisiting Tell All Your Friends - and fans sang along so loudly that it was hard to notice.

After finishing the album, the band members returned to the stage to celebrate guitarist Eddie Reyes' birthday, which was the day prior. Reyes sat back as a male dancer came out and stripped down to his underwear in front of him. The entire band, Reyes included, watched on in amusement. The group proceeded to perform of two Tell All Your Friends-era b-sides, "Your Own Disaster" and "The Ballad of Sal Villanueva." The latter may be my favorite Taking Back Sunday song, and I never thought I would have the opportunity to see it performed live. You'd never know they were rarities; most fans sang along at the tops of their lungs. It was the icing on the cake after an excellent show.

Lazzara remarked that he saw the crowd going off for all three bands, which further proves how good this line-up is. Revisiting Tell All Your Friends proved to be fun and nostalgic for both the band and its fans. The members of Taking Back Sunday relished in the audience's excitement and reciprocated with their own enthusiasm. As someone who has loved the album for a decade and counting, the TAYF10 Tour did justice to the classic.

See all of my photos from the show here.
Tags: review, taking back sunday, Bayside, The Menzingers
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Show Review: Bayside/Saves the Day/I Am the Avalanche/Transit
10/16/11 at 05:52 PM by Alex DiVincenzo
It has been said many times that this fall (and 2011 in general) has been exceptionally good for new music. Let's not forget that the tours the artists are going on in support of those releases are equally as exciting. One of the more noteworthy line-ups as of late is a co-headlining tour between Saves the Day and Bayside with support from I Am the Avalanche and Transit. I caught the sold out show at the Royale in Boston, MA on October 8.

Opening the show was Massachusetts' own Transit. Frontman Joe Boynton said that the band hadn't had the chance to play in their home state to celebrate the release of their new album, Listen and Forgive, so they considered it their CD release show. Despite typically playing with no barricade, they received a warm reception from their hometown crowd as they split their half hour set between old and new material. They ended with "Please Head North," a fan favorite that got the crowd exited.

Up next was I Am the Avalanche. From the opening of "Brooklyn Dodgers," it was obvious that fans are happy to have the band back with their first new album in six years, Avalanche United. Perhaps no one seemed more excited than frontman Vinnie Caruana, as he was clearly joyed to sing the new songs and see fans reciprocate. The new material seems to have more energy behind it, and that translated well into the live show. Bayside's Anthony Raneri (to whom Caruana referred as "a much better singer than me") came out to sing on "Gravedigger's Argument." Their set concluded with "I Took A Beating," at the end of which Caruana called for a circle pit.

As previously mentioned, this is co-headlining run between Bayside and Saves the Day. While they alternate who closes out the show, they each play for about an hour. If the tour is in the same city two nights in a row, as it was in Boston, the bands change up their setlists a good deal to keep things interesting. I had the pleasure of attending two nights and thoroughly enjoyed them both. (Coincidentally, I think both Saves the Day's and Bayside's setlists were a little stronger on their respective "headlining" nights, but that's a matter of opinion.)

As a band with such an extensive back catalogue, it's always a surprise to see what Saves the Day will throw into their set. They are also supporting a new album, the recently released Daybreak. The end result was a handful of new songs mixed in with a healthy dose of fan favorites. Much has been said about the group's revolving members over the years, but the current line-up may very well be the best incarnation of Saves the Day yet, as cemented by the live show. Guitarist Arun Bali particularly shines, playing the older material with ease while showcasing his skills on the new songs.

Reaction to the new material was expectedly more reserved that that of old material, but a highlight of the night was witnessing the band perform "Daybreak" in its entirety. The five-part, ten and a half-minute track was executed to perfection by the band, leaving many fans in awe - although other attendees didn't seem to realize what they were witnessing. The band wrapped it up after that with "At Your Funeral" as the majority of the audience joined vocalist Chris Conley in singing along.

"Blame It On Bad Luck" is usually reserved for later in a Bayside set, so fans knew they were in for a treat when the band began their set with it. More accurately, Raneri began with it, performing the opening chorus and verse solo before being joined by his bandmates as the Bayside backdrop was released from the rafters. Their set ranged from their latest effort, Killing Time, to their early albums - although Shudder remains under-represented.

I have said it before and I will say it again: Bayside is one of the most consistent acts I've seen. Both live and on record, they never disappoint. The band is one of the few that can sound like they do on record in a live setting while still giving all their energy. Not to be outdone by Bali, Bayside guitarist Jack O'Shea is one of the standout guitarists in the scene, playing riffs and solos effortlessly. Caruana joined the band to sing his part of "The Walking Wounded" before ending the night on a high note with "Devotion and Desire."

Raneri said that, despite only being three days in, this is already his favorite tour that he has ever been on. And there's good reason for that: the line-up is one of the year's strongest, and all of the bands give it their all with no need for gimmicks. It's hitting most major markets, and I highly recommend attending if you're a fan of any act on the bill. You're guaranteed to be pleased from start to finish.

Bayside setlistBlame It On Bad Luck
Hello Shitty
Already Gone
They're Not Horses, They're Unicorns
Wrong Way
Alcohol & Altar Boys
Sick, Sick, Sick
Killing Time
Existing In A Crisis
It's Not A Bad Little War
Don't Call Me Peanut
The Walking Wounded
Devotion And Desire

Saves the Day setlistFirefly
Shoulder To The Wheel
Deranged & Desperate
The End
Cars & Calories
As Your Ghost Takes Flight
Holly Hox, Forget Me Nots
Anywhere With You
Say You'll Never Leave
Can't Stay The Same
My Sweet Fracture
Sell My Old Clothes
At Your Funeral

I Am the Avalanche setlistBrooklyn Dodgers
New Disaster
Holy Fuck
I'll Be Back Around
Green Eyes
Gravedigger's Argument
I Took A Beating

Transit setlistLong Lost Friends
Listen & Forgive
You Can't Miss it
All Your Heart
Stays The Same
Please Head North

See all of my photos from the show here.
Tags: review, bayside, saves the day, i am the avalanche, transit
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Show Review: Bayside/Silverstein/Polar Bear Club/The Swellers/Texas In July
04/28/11 at 07:04 AM by Alex DiVincenzo

"This is the first night of the Take Action Tour. Isn't that cool?" Bayside frontman Anthony Raneri asked the excited audience at the Paradise in Boston on April 22. "We were like, 'Where can we go that people will be really excited and we can kick off this tour in style?' So, naturally, we came to Boston." The crowd roared with approval.

Although I could make plenty of arguments as to why Raneri was correct in saying that there is no better place than Boston, the truth is that anywhere is a great place for the Take Action Tour. Not only is the line-up - Bayside, Silverstein, Polar Bear Club, The Swellers and Texas In July - among the best in the tour's 10-year history, but it's always excellent to see musicians supporting a good cause. This year's charity is Sex, Etc., which provides sex education for teens.

The night started out with a (head)bang as Texas In July took the stage. As a relatively unknown metalcore band, they were the odd man out of the tour. That will likely change, however; not only did the group just release their Equal Vision Records debut, but the tour is sure to be great exposure for them. Although they seemed a bit too heavy for some of the crowd members, their breakdowns got others moshing during their 20-minute set.

The Swellers were up next. They came out to the spoken-word track "Wasted Youth" from Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell II. Because the band only had a half hour, I wish they had cut the lengthy intro in favor of another song. It was the group's first U.S. show in months (prior to this, they had toured overseas and recorded a new album), but they played a solid set and received a warm reaction from the crowd.

I was hoping to hear more material from their forthcoming Good For Me, but the lone new song they played was "The Best I Ever Had," which was released online that day. I'm glad they still throw "Bottles" from their first album into the mix. The rest of their set came from Ups and Downsizing, including my personal favorite, "2009," to end the set. The energetic song works well as a closer.

Polar Bear Club took the stage for the next 30 minutes. They played a mix of material from both of their full-lengths, concluding with a rousing performance of "Living Saints." They also played a new song, titled "Bottled Wind." If it's any indication of what's in store for their new album, Clash Battle Guilt Pride, fans will undoubtedly be pleased.

Vocalist Jimmy Stadt said that they were given notes on what to say about the tour. "'Tell a sex joke.' Anyone? I don't know a goddamn sex joke!" The raspy-voiced frontman instead expressed the band's excitement in doing their first charity tour. Between this and a spot on last year's AP Fall Ball Tour, the group seems to finally be getting some much-deserved exposure.

The tour is a co-headlining bout between Silverstein and Bayside, and on the premiere stop Silverstein played second-to-last. The Take Action alumni (they played in 2006) came out with the ferocious "Vices" and didn't let up for over 50 minutes until they ended with "Bleeds No More."

The band played a solid mix of material from each of their albums. The tunes from their new album, Rescue, fit in perfectly. They played a lot of faster songs, with bassist Billy Hamilton's backing screams giving the heavier moments a more robust sound. There was also a lighter moment in vocalist Shane Told performing an acoustic rendition of "Replace You." At one point, Told's microphone cut out so he did what anyone would do in such a situation: a stage dive.

I was impressed that the band played quick covers of Kid Dynamite's "Pits and Poisoned Apples" and American Nightmare's "Hearts" - which appear on the band's recent Record Store Day 7" (of which the band had a few copies at their merch table) - but disappointed by how clueless most of the audience was, especially since it was Boston. Nevertheless, Told said that the first show of a tour usually isn't that great, but Boston was "fucking killing it."

Bayside is easily one of the most consistent bands in the scene, both live and on record. They proved their dependability once again with their hour-long set. Raneri sounds like he could be in the studio at every show, and lead guitarist Jack O'Shea's talents are under-appreciated. The set featured choice cuts from each of their five full-lengths (although only one song - "The Ghost of St. Valentine" - from Shudder; it seems to be the black sheep of the band's catalogue, despite having some solid tracks).

The band kicked off with "Already Gone," which proved to be just as great an opener for a show as it is on their new album, Killing Time (which they were selling for only $5). Other highlights included an acoustic performance of "Don't Call Me Peanut" with plenty of crowd participation, "Masterpiece" for the old school kids and concluding with the fan favorite to "Devotion and Desire."

The tone of the night - from both the bands and the audience - was one of joy. Everyone was happy to support a great cause with an excellent line-up of music. The Swellers frontman Nick Diener said it best: "We don't have any choreographed dance moves for you. We've just got these guitars and these amplifiers and this drum set and my voice. It's not a computer; it's a real goddamn voice. So thank you for supporting real music."

Bayside setlistAlready Gone
The Wrong Way
Phone Call From Poland
The Ghost of Saint Valentine
Seeing Sound
The Walking Wounded
Sick, Sick, Sick
We'll Be OK
Don't Call Me Peanut
Blame It On Bad Luck
I and I
Devotion and Desire

Silverstein setlistVices
The Artist
Smashed Into Pieces
The Ides of March
Smile In Your Sleep
Burning Hearts
Pits and Poisoned Apples (Kid Dynamite cover)
Hearts (American Nightmare cover)
My Heroine
Replace You
If You Could See Into My Soul
Your Sword Vs. My Dagger
Broken Stars
Bleeds No More

Polar Bear Club setlistHollow Place
Light of Local Eyes
Our Ballads
Bottled Wind
Burned Out In A Jar
Drifting Thing
Living Saints

The Swellers setlistDirt
Feet First
The Best I Ever Had
Do You Feel Better Yet?
Welcome Back Riders
Fire Away
Tags: review, bayside, silverstein, the swellers, polar bear club, texas in july
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