You’ve heard this one before. Guitars are dead. The youth culture is gravitating toward hip-hop/rap stars and guys with weird stage names playing off their laptops. Yeah, I have no idea why either. Taking Back Sunday, the once hailed emo kings, now simply a rock ‘n roll band sold out the Wiltern in Los Angeles on Saturday night. This was in front of a very spirited crowds ranging from those in their mid 20s and 30s. After all, lead singer Adam Lazzara has been swinging that damn mic since their debut record back in 2002. Nostalgia alongside true ecstasy was certainly in the air. While guitar rock is said to be dead in the sense of selling albums and gaining “stardom,” the same can’t be said for live shows. The demise of guitars won’t happen anytime soon. Taking Back Sunday is proof of this.
After all these years, TBS is still giving the people what they want and demand. The Long Island quintet blasted through their classics as well as newer jams all while performing with the same passion as when they were starting out over 15 years ago.Taking Back Sunday played 19 songs. They touched based on at least song from each of their seven LPs. The group’s latest offering was 2016’s Tidal Wave. They played four songs from it including the title track.
‘Tidal Wave’ opened the night in grand fashion as it got the night off to a good start. Then came ‘You Know How I Do’ and the crowd erupted with vast enthusiasm. It is one of the classics and beloved jams off their debut LP, Tell All Your Friends (arguably the band’s finest record). It’s a classic emo song before emo became something of a taboo word. It was just the first of many sing-alongs during the course of the night. With a huge back catalogue of fan favorites, it was probably difficult for the band to narrow it down to just nineteen. Fortunately, they played two of their finest tracks off Tidal Wave, ‘You Can’t Look Back’ and ‘Call Come Running.’
Between songs, Adam would break into small stories, one about his dad and another about being asked to contribute to a Green Day cover compilation. The charming singer would engage with the audience during their 90 minute set. He appeared genuinely thrilled to be playing in front of a sold-out LA audience as well.
When ‘Timberwolves At New Jersey’ started up, the crowd went absolutely wild. Lyrically, it’s one of the band’s strongest and easily a top choice among the fervent devotees. Nearly everyone was singing with Adam with the lyrics, This is me with the words on the tip of my tongue/And my eye through the scope/Down the barrel of a gun/Remind me not to ever act this way again (again)/Again (again). For this throwback song, there was a little mosh-pit going on and how can you blame the audience with lyrics such as, You know I can’t help it/I got the mic/And you got the mosh pit included. For anyone there who was a fan back when Tell All Your Friends first came out, your inner child was definitely released into the wild.
‘Liar (It Takes One To Know One)’ off the Louder Now record was thrown into the set with great reception. Another catchy tune in an arsenal of infectious tracks, guitarist John Nolan provides strong backup vocals. Lazzara and Nolan’s back and forth in vocals is a signature move from TBS that has always worked exceptionally well. Lazzara, who’s all over the stage, becomes a fun sight to see. He kept the set lively, spirited, and it was a blast to be a part of. And that’s how TBS wanted the night to feel like as if the fans were the main attraction and they were the grateful ones for everyone being there with them on a Saturday night.
As expected and extremely well received, they played ‘You’re So Last Summer,’ ‘A Decade Under The Influence,’ and ‘Cute Without The “E” (Cut From The Team)’. The crowd was at their loudest, most lively state during these cuts. Toward the end of the set, Adam introduced the other band members. This includes guitarist Eddie Reyes, bass player Shaun Cooper, and drummer Mark O’Connell. The others didn’t say anything at all as Adam is in full control of the mic. He thanked Modern Chemistry for opening the night. He was also thrilled to finally be on tour with one of his favorite bands, Every Time I Die.
The encore included one of the band’s best songs ever, ‘MakeDamnSure’. It was a special way to conclude the show, as everyone was intensely into the moment by dancing, singing, and moving together. Taking Back Sunday presented a complete set to the younger fans who may have found them late and to the diehards, who’ve loved them ever since their classic debut. In the end, this was a pure rock ‘n roll show with a diverse, nearly uninhibited crowd. It clearly shows how Taking Back Sunday has such a widespread and loyal fan base who are fully dedicated to everything they continually put out.
Tidal Wave is available now via Hopeless Records.