There is a lot that goes into making a tour happen, too many moving pieces to really list out here but conversely there is a lot that goes into wrapping one up, too. The day that I was with the Say Anything guys (see PT 1), it was their last day of tour. It was a bit chaotic, there were lots of hugging and definitely the notion of bittersweetness was in the air. I, for one, have not done anything on the road in ions, over a decade even; however, these guys do this once, twice and some thrice times a year. The stamina to get up every day, every other day sometimes, and go on stage, sweat buckets and scream louder than the monitors on stage at times, that has to be taxing on one's body. So to see this last set on the last date all the way up to the last song, I was impressed. Impressed that the excitement was still present, the energy was still high and spirits were as if it were mid-tour.
By the time I was done having a drink and finishing a cigar, I walked into the venue to catch what I think was the last 3 or 4 mewithoutyou songs. What a treat it was to catch any part of that set. The first time I saw mewithoutyou was with Brand New and Thrice and I've been a fan ever since. If you have never had the pleasure, you should at the very least go to iTunes or Spotify and look these guys up. Don't the person who hasn't at least checked these guys out. Here are a few shots from their set.
So, I have to confess, there was a bit of conversing going on between Sean Huber (Modern Baseball drummer) and I while some of the other bands played. I missed the Joyce Manor set as a result but the silver lining is the topics we covered, which mostly covered older bands like Bad Religion, Hot Water Music and Travis Barker's new memoir. Before I knew it, one band was finishing and another was about to start change over. The last time Modern Baseball was in town with Say Anything I missed the entire set because me and some of the guys spent the better half at the night at the Congress Street Bridge waiting for the famous Austin bats to grace us with their presence. The joke however, was on us. Those jerks never showed and we had to literally run from Congress Street to Scoot Inn. I digress. This year I made it a point to catch MoBo.
A bit of a public service announcement: MoBo has a new record out and it's one of those records where you listen to it once and think "I know by the fifth time of listening to this, I will love this record and how I didn't always love it this much will be beyond me". If you have time to watch this, please do. If all you have time to do is watch this and not read the rest of this, that's 100% fine with me.
Now, on to the actual show. Modern Baseball subscribes to my favorite kind of showmanship, "less talk, more rock". The band steps on stage and in the best tonality, with the bass player in his glasses rocking the Kurt Rambis elastic band holding them in place, with the simple strum of a note and the kick drum/cymbal strike, the crowd goes NUTS. The barricade is a fantastic thing if you're a photographer. Some separation from the crowd, the access to angles and perspectives you wouldn't get otherwise and in this case, the alley for the crowd surfer's exodus. I grew up on punk rock, crowd surfing and the whole nine yards...what a breath of fresh air to see four guys invoke such mayhem. Essentially the set was a giant repeat of *snap snap snap* and I look behind me to see if someone is about to ram the back of my head with their shoes. The set went off without a hitch. It was kind of an odd merger of sorts. It just so happened that MoBo was starting their headlining tour as Say Anything was finishing theirs, so they combined tours for a couple of dates. With that being said, a definite highlight of the set was Say Anything drummer, Reed Murray, filing in for Sean as he stood at the barricades singing into the faces of the front row. If they're coming to a town near you, don't be a big dumbface like me and sleep on these guys. They're worth every second and every penny of yours.
And now, to put a bow on this, to try to send this off with a kiss. In 2005 I gladly jumped on the Say Anything bandwagon when ...Is A Real Boy came out. It was a nice change of pace for my musical pallet at the time. Unfortunately for me, over the years I've lacked in keeping up (mostly) with the releases but this last record release, I Don't Think It Is, I am reinvigorated by Max. This fuzzy, noise rock. It's straight forward and drives in a way that I want rock and roll to move me. Let me be the first (probably not the first) to say it translate incredibly well live. Like I said before, if you have time to watch this, do it. The single off of this record is damn good. The kind of song you put on repeat because it's that catchy. And the video great. Well done.
If it's one thing I have an appreciation for it's for those whose job it is to put together a set list. That rollercoaster ride that blends the highs, the lows, the calming moments and the sheer madness, that is an art in and of its self. With a decades with of songs to pull from, Say Anything navigates perfectly through the new and the nostalgia. As well as Max can write a record, he simply cannot play everything live and this is where the band really starts to have some appeal to a frontman who does it as well as anyone else. From the moment the guys take the stage and they give the ceremonious waive of the hand and pick up their respective instruments you know that the night has really begun. The tenure behind the band is actually quite impressive. Bass player Garron DuPree is brother-in-law to Max and hails from a band that I very much enjoy called Eisley. Kenny Bridges was the singer of a band that shamelessly love called Moneen. Parker Case was first known to me through his days in JamisonParker and recently filled in for Jesse Johnson of Motion City Soundtrack on their tour before last. Reed Murray started his stint with his former band Tallhart and has ventured into some solo work under the guise of "Reed". Needless to say (but I'll say it anyways), these guys know what they're doing and it's enthralling to see the cohesion.
The set hits all the marks you think it would and takes a fantastic turn when Max's wife, Sherri DuPree Bemis, comes on stage and sings with her husband. There is something special about creating art, there is something magical about sharing your creation and there was this, seeing two people in love, singing to one another, something they created, as if they were the only two in the room. It's moving, it's special, it's spiritual to see. Love means a lot of things to a lot of people, to us at the show, it meant that Max and Sherri fabricated a moment for us all to see, in perfect harmony (pun intended). That's a pretty tough act to follow. The band plays on, they do more of the songs people want to hear and then...they're done, kind of. The encore is commenced with just Max and a guitar he's playing, to be joined by the band 3/4 through the song. Then they're done. For real done. Unlike any other show before this one on the tour, this was the last song, the last night, the last encore. Everyone on stage exchanges hugs and acts of gratitude. It's really special to see in person, your friends and acquaintances celebrate the fruits of their labor. It's always a treat to be around these guys. They're incredibly nice to have me out and document these moments for them. I'm grateful to call some of them friends, I'm elated to get to hang out and trade tales of our kids and how much bigger they are than the last time we spoke. For us, for me, for you, music is never a silo. It's a community, it's a family. It's something we all share and something that unites us all. I'm happy to have contributed to this day in my little way.