Max Bemis took a sloppy swig from his can of Red Bull and cocked his head at the crowd. “There’s something about you guys,” he said coyly. “Have you ripened?”
Then he decided.
“Emo puberty. You’re perfect, you’re fucking perfect.”
These fans–with arms reaching out to meet him as he jumped offstage to meet them, wielding his mic like a dagger–have grown up with the Say Anything lead singer and the fellow band members shredding onstage.
They hit the stage with “Do Better” from their self-titled release, appeasing the crowd anticipation as they lined up hits like the 2004 …Is A Real Boy leadoff “Belt,” the catchy-yet-cringe-y “Slowly Through a Vector” and the chant-along favorite “Hate Everyone.” All in all, each member dominated the stage.
In “Nibble Nibble,” drummer Reed Murray built up their sound to a deafening roar. The band left him to a solo as he attacked his kit before collapsing on it, leaning his head on the cymbal for a breather before winding back up again in full force.
Bemis was a caricature, winning laughs as he dramatically elongated vocals, sticking out his tongue as he over-pronounced each word, playing off his signature singing style. He sashayed across the stage, appraising a member of the crowd with a dramatic eyeroll and gifting another with a vehement middle finger. Parker Case belted into the mic on backing vocals and took to the keyboards and guitar (branded with a sticker that read in block letters: SOCIAL MEDIA IS ANTI-SOCIAL) as onlookers, pressed against the railing in the front row, sheepishly raised their phones to take a Snapchat.
For “The Presidential Suite” Case traded it in for an acoustic and took a seat on the large speaker along the stage left, smiling sweetly at the sea below him, as Bemis began gently, “It doesn’t sound like a punk rock song… but it is.” From there the song only half belonged to him. In all the fun of live shows, there is nothing better than the moments when the crowd overpowers the performers, leaving them to look over the 15-plus-year fans in awe. It’s the acoustic set where these moments are truly championed.
Closing with “Alive With The Glory of Love” had the whole house jumping, crowd surfers tumbling towards the stage, almost too many for security to snatch back to earth. You could write books about the way that guitar speed-up makes a crowd lose their mind. For the encore set, the microphone belonged to the crowd. It was passed along from one person to another, a shrieking, gritty, groaning intro to “Every Man Has a Molly” before a grinning Bemis gestured for a turn, shouting like only he can, until there was nothing left to be said.
This tour–alongside Bayside–had hit Clifton Park’s Upstate Concert Hall with all the anything-goes personality and flair that made the band’s longtime fans’ hearts swell. For fans who haven’t seen their emo heroes in a while (or maybe you’re me and never got the chance at all) this show was like finally reaching an itch you could never scratch.
Bayside had worked the crowd up well with a setlist that lead singer Anthony Raneri said the band put together so we all had something to sing and dance to. There were circle pits and headbanging as they sped through hits like “Montauk,” the aptly named and beautifully written “Masterpiece,” “Duality”–even a punk cover of Billy Joel’s “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song).” They chugged through their set, lining up one after another to a point where fans could barely come up for air, shouting excitedly as the drums kicked in for the next track.
Before sending the crowd on their way home, Say Anything promised another record, another tour–then another and another after those. We’ll be there.