The summer was made for concerts. While each season has their strong points, the summer months just lend themselves so easily to spending a night singing (and sweating) with your friends, and that’s exactly what we did last Satuday, when one of the best tour packages came to the Starland Ballroom for one last romp of the summer of 2016. In support of their new album Vacancy, which was released the day before, Bayside continued their trend of building fantastic tour packages that not only highlighted some of the best upcoming acts in our scene, but showcased their own talents and showmanship as well. I was able to be in attendance for the entire show, and was able to photograph each band as well. Check out some photos below, and scroll to the bottom to see more photos of each band!
Up first was the moody emo-rok act Sorority Noise, whose dynamic melodies, brooding lyrics, and emotional stage presence served as the perfect primer for the rest of the night. Frontman Cameron Bouher, whose face remained hidden under the bill of his hat for most of the night, rarely spoke in between songs, but when he did, he gave a powerful message about self-love to the fans, which provided the band’s best response of the night afterward. Playing mostly tracks from last year’s coming-of-age album Joy, Departed, the band ended their set with a flurry, extending the ending of “Your Soft Blood” to a rousing conclusion that left a favorable impression with anyone who had not hear of the band prior to the night’s proeedings.
While Sorority Noise’s set was defined by brooding introspection, The Menzingers’s set was defined by boisterous enthusiasm. Opening with “The Obituaries,” it was clear that the Pennsylvania punk band had the crown in the palm of their collective hand from the very first note. While they played some of the top cuts from each of their last two albums, 2014’s Rented World and the instant-classic On the Impossible Past, the highlight of the night (for me, at least) was the inclusion of thier new single “Lookers,” off of their forthcoming album After the Party. The track achieves the rare feat of sounding even better than it already is in a live setting, no doubt helped by the fact that many enthusiastic fans were singing every word, just a week after the song was released. It’s fitting that The Menzingers are opening for Bayside on this tour, because they seem well on their way to developing the same cult-like following that the tour’s headliner has been defined by for so many years. It won’t be long before we’re watching The Menzingers headling the Starland Ballroom stage.
One of the problems with tours this loaded with talent, if you can even call it a problem, is that sometimes you forget how excited you are to see the headlining band. That was the case for me on Saturday night, but once Bayside opened with their highest-charting single “Sick, Sick, Sick,” I was quickly reminded why I’ve seen them live more than any other band. Bayside have built a reputation for themselves as consumate professionals, turning in a more precise and energetic set each time they tour the country. Setlist staples like “The Walking Wounded” and “Montauk” are always slightly altered musically, and thanks to the talents of lead guitarist Jack O’ Shea, these songs that the crowd has been listening to for a decade take on new life. The songs from the band’s excellent new album Vacancy fit right in, with “I’ve Been Dead All Day” serving as a pacesetter early in the set, and the live debut of “Mary” providing a nice surprise for the ever-loyal New Jersey crowd. The biggest surprise of all, however, came when the band broke into a cover of “Mr. Brightside,” the all-time great track from The Killers. Frontman Anthony Raneri offered no warning to the crowd before crooning the first verse, which lead to a three-minute frenzy that will serve as yet another great memory of seeing Bayside live for me.
It’d be easy for a band like Bayside to fall into the same traps as some of their peers, and simply plod along playing the same old songs, going on hiatus only to inevitably come back a year and a half later, take out their friends on tour with them, and fade away into the void. But with a new album showcasing a reinvigorated Anthony Raneri, the band have proved yet again that they’re not going anywhere, and they’ll be around for a very, very long time. And as long as they keep putting together tours like this, I’ll be there every time.
Check out photo galleries of each band below! Photographing shows is something I’m still releatively new at, so feel free to leave comments below, or let me know on twitter!