Tower Theater, Upper Darby, PA. October, 2007.
I took a musical journey back to my high school and college eras with a show at The Sands Event Center in Bethlehem, PA featuring Taking Back Sunday and The Used. Though I wouldn’t say I stopped liking these acts altogether, but I haven’t paid the greatest attention to them in recent years. Both of these bands stormed through my early morning playlists for my 5:00am train rides to Temple back in my college days. So, this was really a blast.
After a few bands I never heard of did their thing (Tonight Alive and Sleepwave), The Used played an absolutely fantastic set. Bert was a little yappy and said some dumb things, most notably when he randomly took a shot at the entire state of New Jersey. But they killed it with a great track selection, including I Caught Fire, Buried Myself Alive, The Taste of Ink, A Box Full of Sharp Objects, and All That I’ve Got. I really missed Cut Up Angels, though. And although Bert declared Smells Like Teen Spirit “the greatest song ever written” (really, it’s pretty much the opposite), bravo to them. They’re officially back in my weekly rotation.
Then entered Taking Back Sunday, a band that I haven’t seen live since 2007 when they were on the Projekt Revolution tour. I wish they could have played every single song in their catalog, but overall the set list (below) was great. And the best part? Adam nailed the mic flips and twirls around his neck with insane precision, and I’m glad that never left the act. And just hearing Cute Without The ‘E’ live again put the biggest smile on my face. Thanks, guys.
I return to The Sands Event Center on May 15 to see The Killers, a show celebrating the venue’s second birthday.
2. Stood A Chance
3. Timberwolves At New Jersey
4. Liar (It Takes One To Know One)
5. Faith (When I Let You Down)
6. You Know How I Do
7. Beat Up Car
8. Number Five With A Bullet
9. What’s It Feel Like To Be A Ghost?
10. A Decade Under The Influence
11. Better Homes And Gardens
12. You’re So Last Summer
13. Error: Operator
14. Flicker, Fade
15. Cute Without The ‘E’ (Cut From The Team)
Tough question, sure. But if you’re a music lover, I know you have one. Because “It’s hard to choose just one!” is such an incredible cop out, and you know it. Seriously – what’s the one song you could listen to on repeat for the rest of your life and never worry about it growing old and tired? The one song that makes every waking morning tolerable and every night serene. The one song that makes the greatest difficulties and challenges of life strangely acceptable.
That one, single song.
For me, it’s The Backseat by The Gaslight Anthem from the album, The ’59 Sound. It’s a song that takes me a halcyon place and can alter my entire mental state after only the first verse. Immediately, with the very first line, the expected Springsteen influences shine through with “In the backseat of burned out cars…” and draws up legendary imagery from Thunder Road (a song that wasn’t far from the crown).
The chorus –
You know the summer always brought in
That wild and reckless breeze
And in the backseats, we just tried to find
Some room for our knees
– brings me back to those invincible days of driving around the Jersey Shore in the back of my friend’s Ford Explorer, blasting music, and seeking out girls we could pretend to hit on. We would head to the beach every evening at sundown to play wiffle ball and leave it all behind – life, school, crappy jobs, everything. With a trusty Xbox, the Ocean City boardwalk, and a fridge stocked with unpretentious beer, we were unstoppable come summer.
And, of course, the verse that further brings it home –
Come July, we’ll ride the ferris wheel
Go ’round and ’round and ’round
And if you never let me go
Well, I will never let you down
So, then, what’s your favorite song?
My second place finishes:
* Come Back – Pearl Jam
* Badlands – Bruce Springsteen
* Climb to Safety – Widespread Panic
* This River is Wild – The Killers
* Desolation Row – Bob Dylan
I generally listen to any kind of music that gives me a good vibe, but the list of bands that I hold near and dear to my heart is most certainly a short one. Pearl Jam, The Killers, Bruce Springsteen, The Gaslight Anthem, Widespread Panic, Taking Back Sunday – the end. That list is only comprised of folks that have the uncanny ability to seamlessly transfer the raw emotional intent of any given ballad to my own presence. Put me in a room alone with Pearl Jam’s “Come Back”, and you’ll find something pretty wild.
Taking Back Sunday (who I’ll be seeing live in just a few short weeks) has been on my list since high school, when they were deemed a leader of the “Screamo” musical movement. The often-excessive use of lead singer Adam Lazzara’s pipes was never the primary appeal for me, and I never had a really terrible girlfriend experience that destroyed my life (as per their standard plot line). Still, I can relate to their entire catalog, because that aforementioned emotional transfer ability is perfected, in every single lyric. Though generally unexplainable, it’s easy to cite a mixture of Adam’s assertive and impassioned disposition and beautifully jarring lyricism.
Take the band’s de facto anthem, Cute Without the ‘E’ (Cut from the Team). If you don’t hit the floor screaming, “…this all was only wishful thinking…”, I’m forced to question the presence of your soul, of your ability to feel. I listened to and passionately followed this song so often in college, that my girlfriend (now wife) thought I was always mad at her. Whenever I want to feel something else, it’s the first song I queue up.
But that’s good music should be. An inspiration to vicariously scream, to feel someone else’s emotions as if they are your own. The line between your life and that of the songwriter are forever blurred. And you lose yourself completely in someone else’s story.
There’s live music, and then there’s Pearl Jam – that’s what I’ll be telling my kids 20, 30 years from now. Yeah, Bruce brings down the house – as do The Killers to an extent – but Pearl Jam shows are special for me. Ever since I picked up Ten when I used to order CDs from Columbia House (remember that shit?) without my parents knowing it, their music has changed my life. And ever since I saw them live for the first time 10 years ago, live music has never been the same for me. And that feeling is renewed with every show.
Eddie and company’s latest visit to Philly, this past Tuesday, marked the 23rd anniversary (to the day!) of the band’s first ever live show in Seattle. And I was glad to be there for the occasion. We celebrated with 34 songs, two encores, a particularly acrobatic Eddie, a shout-out to Springsteen (who attended the show incognito), a Happy Birthday from the crowd to the band, and of course, the one and only, Baba.
An absolutely incredible show and experience. And if they stay on schedule and make their way back here in 3 or 4 years, Mackenzie will finally have a chance to experience her first Pearl Jam show.
Mind Your Manners
Amongst The Waves
Given To Fly
World Wide Suicide
Do The Evolution
State Of Love And Trust
Them boys went and did it again, let…me…tell…you.
The Killers manhandled The Borgata’s Event Center (my favorite venue in the world) in Atlantic City last night. And although Brandon’s signature vintage Levi’s star shirt was absent, it’s officially one of my favorite shows ever. With a bullet.
If opening the set with Mr. Brightside alongside the house lights wasn’t enough, I’m pretty sure that Brandon acknowledged my request via Twitter for This River is Wild, my all-time favorite and a song that, despite seeing them a dozen times, I’ve never experienced live. Here’s my tweet from the day of the show:
And so, before he launched into the tune, Brandon explains, “This one’s for Andrew.” Well, I didn’t find any other Andrews requesting the song, and the amount of people who refer to me as “Andrew” after seeing my actual name is staggering. I assume there’s science behind it, and even rock Gods are not immune. Therefore, unless some “Andrew” comes forward with proof, I’m taking this one as a personal victory and monumental achievement. Because it’s the little things.
Mr. Brightside (house lights on)
The Way It Was
Smile Like You Mean It
This River Is Wild
Bling (Confessions of a King)
Somebody Told Me
I Think We’re Alone Now (Cover)
For Reasons Unkown
From Here on Out
A Dustland FairyTale
Read My Mind
All These Things That I’ve Done
Change Your Mind
Jenny Was a Friend of Mine
When You Were Young
photo credits go to my friend, by the way, because my phone was dead
Live music has played a special role in my life since I went to my first concert at the Spectrum in 1996 to see Garbage and The Smashing Pumpkins. Ever since that day, I’ve had a deep love for the art and a sincere penchant for red heads. What a night.
I’ve mentally maintained a list of favorites over the years but asked myself recently: Which 3 songs do I need to hear live once more before the end?
Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen
You can basically call it a religious experience. All of the house lights fire up, and even an apocalypse outside of the arena’s gates couldn’t dampen what everyone’s feeling at that very moment. It’s liberating. Like you were just released from under a rock after 150 years.
Mr. Brightside – The Killers
The best thing about it is that the louder and faster it’s played, the better it sounds. There are so many trademark moments that get the blood flowing – the buildup towards the outro, the way they explode into the final chorus, the “it was only a kiss” blast that the crowd nails on cue and without fail. If you ever see it live, just follow Brandon’s lead and jump. Jump.
Baba O’Riley (Cover) – Pearl Jam
This is it. The one that changed my life. Sure, it’s not an original, but they sure as hell play it like it is. Part of the brilliance here is that the crowd expects them to play it like men possessed, which makes everyone seem pretty…well, possessed. It literally makes you want to grab the nearest sweaty person and just start making out. And anytime an event inspires that kind of behavior, you know you’re having a good time.
* I actually attended the Springsteen and Killers concerts featured in the above videos.