I won’t beat around the bush on this one: I have been waiting to see Say Anything for a very long time. Since they first rocked my junior high sensibilities with …Is A Real Boy, up until their latest release, Anarchy, My Dear, Max Bemis (vocalist) and his merry band of troubadours have found a way to march into my heart—sharp wit and sass in tow.
Though Say Anything has been a band (in some incarnation or another) for nearly ten years, progressing both thematically and aurally, an indiscernible quality to their music has stayed eerily similar. They’ve perfected the niche they’ve fallen into—some sort of rowdy, rousing, indie pop-punk. Whatever it is that they’re doing, it seems to have reached its limbs out across many walks of life, as the crowd was an entirely mixed bag. Looking around the room, attendees ranged from older fans (no doubt anticipating some plays from the early end of the discography, much like myself) to younger fans, already wearing merch from the table in the back.
Bemis, himself, even noted this, exclaiming midway through the set “Now, you guys are a little bit of a younger crowd! Are you going to stick with us and keep coming back to see us? I think I’ve still got a thousand or so shows in me!” From the deafening sound this statement was met with, I’d venture to say the answer was a yes.
After nearly six years of being a fan, getting the chance to hear songs you’ve enjoyed through multiple seasons of your life live can be an incredibly experience. Anyone who’s liked a band that’s had an extensive discography can vouch for the anticipation of waiting to see just how far into their back catalogue a band will play. To my excitement, Say Anything opened with “Spidersong,” a fiery and up-tempo favorite from their first proper full length, back in 2006. This initial blast from the past was a great litmus test for the rest of the set which was chock full of songs spanning nearly every single one of their albums.
Time and time again, fans hopped their way up onto the stage, only to be met by a smiling band. Bemis, particularly, seemed to be really enjoying himself, sometimes stretching out a hand to playfully push enthusiastic fans back into the crowd. He mentioned multiple times that he was really impressed with what a great crowd had come out—a statement that sounded extremely sincere (and not, instead, stale like it can often seem).
Lyrically, Say Anything’s songs have always had a painfully honest and oftentimes brutal quality to them, whether Bemis is writing about himself or people around him. Suffering from bipolar disorder, early on in Say Anything’s career, Bemis was known to have outbursts and breakdowns, oftentimes leading the band to cancel appearances on tours. Songs are candidly written about his inner turmoil—a kind rare and refreshing honesty—and maybe that’s the biggest draw.
The animated front man says exactly what he wants to say, oftentimes excruciatingly so. Though for whatever fierce attitude he can sling through the speakers, with each release the band has put out, it’s clear Bemis has matured. While there are still a fair share of songs with scathing call-outs, with age comes growth—the same sort of angst that Bemis wrote about when he was seventeen dissipates, making way for songs that are marked with sweet sincerity. This was perfectly displayed on his delivery of (the comically titled) “Ahhh… Men,” softly singing “can I lie with you in your grave” again and again, the crowd swaying and singing the background parts in unison.
Although only two members have stayed consistent on all of the band’s releases, you wouldn’t know it from watching their stage show. Keyboard maven Parker Case (of late JamisonParker fame), and brothers Jake and Jeff Turner (guitarists) all help out on backing vocals, which only aids in making the band seem tight knit—working as a unit and having a blast while they’re at it. The crowd’s energy collided with the band’s own, which made a bigger venue like the Wonder Ballroom feel not that large at all.
Words by Jenna Fletcher and Photos by Kimberly Lawson. More on Flickr.
Burn A Miracle
In Defense Of The Genre
Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too
Slumming It With Johnny
Every Man Has A Molly
A Walk Through Hell
Alive With The Glory Of Love
Admit It Again