Having listened to their music casually for the last ten years, I was anxious and excited to see the pop-punk kingpins Say Anything last Thursday at The Beacham in Orlando. Songs like "Hate Myself," "Shiksa," "Belt," and "Alive With the Glory of Love," all have a special place in my heart. The night opened strong with captivating live sets from both Kevin Devine and Tallhart, and a tepid, if not mediocre set from Florida's Fake Problems. The hope was that Say Anything would keep the positive vibes going forward with an astounding and undeniably impressive live show. Unfortunately, anything but that happened.
Whether it was the venue, the band or strange concoction of both, the entire set felt bombastic, brash and obnoxious. Nothing felt fluid, nothing felt harmonic, nothing felt polished. The set was raw, in-your-face and pompous. Sure swagger is a good thing, but all swagger and no polish makes for an uncomfortable listening experience. And maybe it was that Tallhart and Kevin Devine were so engaging and compelling, few if any bands could have put on a set that would have kept the night moving forward. But something about Say Anything's set felt off. It didn't feel genuine.
And yet nowhere in the venue did anyone seem to mind. Vocalist Max Bemis belted out lyrics with wanton abandon and hundreds of awestruck fans bobbed around with wonder. Even on punchy singles like "Shiksa," and "Hate Myself," the entire thing felt forced, feigned and over-the-top. If the band deserves any credit, they most certainly played to their fans, performing a slew of crowd favorites and older material and kept the caffeinated masses happy.
I suppose in the end, that's all anyone can ask for.