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A former emo kid reconnects with Taking Back Sunday

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Taking Back Sunday | House of Blues | 25 June 2011
Photo: April Corbin

As a fan walking in to see a band you’ve already seen a few times, you’re bound to have expectations. Entering the House of Blues on Saturday night to see Taking Back Sunday, I definitely had mine.

I had seen the band a handful of times before, starting six or so years ago, when I was a drama-obsessed, self-righteous emo kid who may or may not have worshipped lead singer Adam Lazzara. (Hard to get more self-righteous and dramatic than, “The truth is you could slit my throat, and with my one last gasping breath I’d apologize for bleeding on your shirt.”) Even after that phase died (thank God, it got better!) I stuck with TBS and found myself entertained by their stage presence and the energy their music seems to carry when performed live. So I expected nothing less than a decent show.

What I got was an overpriced beer can to the head—literally. It was a concert first for me, and I should have seen it as a warning of what was to come. When Taking Back Sunday took the stage, the crowd went nuts, and I don’t mean nuts like every crowd goes nuts over the fact the lights have just gone down and the excruciating wait is over. I mean the crowd raged and packed together closer than sardines inside a can.

Halfway through the concert, an overzealous fan somehow managed to get onstage, where she momentarily molested Lazzara before grabbing the mic from him and picking up the words to “What’s It Feel Like to Be a Ghost?” (Wherever she is, my high-school self has a new hero.) For three songs, a barefoot (eww) Lazzara walked through the audience and onto the soundboard area to perform. It sounded like shit with everyone screaming into his mic, but it was boisterous, confrontational and a good live game of Where’s Waldo?

Really, only at one point did TBS slow things down, with a cover of “Existentialism on Prom Night,” a song originally done by Straylight Run, the band members John Nolan and Shaun Cooper formed after leaving Taking Back Sunday in 2003. It was a cool touch for TBS, which these days is performing with Nolan, Cooper and its entire original Tell All Your Friends lineup. Unfortunately, it seemed lost on much of the crowd, which seemed hell bent on rocking out and nothing else.

After 60 minutes of audio assault and surprises, the show ended. The inevitable chanting for an encore began, but was answered only by houselights. As I filed out of the House of Blues, surrounded by a sweaty sea of mostly happy people, I could not help but feel like it happened all so quickly, without warning. It felt a lot like, well, a beer can to the head.

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