Say Anything Warehouse Live April 27, 2012
Friday night, emo/pop punk heroes Say Anything arrived in Houston at Warehouse Live, the latest in a long string of dates on this tour for their new album Anarchy, My Dear. It was a special show for the fans as well as the band, as frontman Max Bemis, a resident of Tyler (Texas), proclaimed a sense of homecoming.
In the middle of the show, he spoke not only of his wife's family being in the crowd, but of how glad he was to be at home and able to see everyone -- even his dog, whom he dedicated a song to.
Of course, Bemis and his band were there for more than just a visit. They were there to play. For an hour and a half, they did just that. In fact, they played their asses off. Bemis turned 28 on April 6 and he may be looking a little bit more mature these days than when Say Anything began, but his skills as a singer and a performer are unabated.
As soon as the band walked on the stage, the fans in the crowd were already screaming. A round of applause later and the band burst into the opening notes of "Spidersong" from their breakthrough album Is a Real Boy, followed by Bemis letting out his own screams, his voice no worse for wear over the years.
Then for that hour and a half, they burned through a set list made up from a fanboy's dream. They covered the hits, such as their latest singles, "Burn a Miracle" and "Say Anything," fan favorites such as "Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too" and "Belt," but then to everyone's surprise started busting out deep cuts like "In Defense of the Genre," the lengthy title cut of their 2007 album, and even obscure B-side "Slumming It with Johnny."
Pulling out all the stops for this show, Bemis even brought out his wife, Sherri Dupree-Bemis of Texas band Eisley, to sing on the new cut "So Good" from Anarchy, My Dear.
When I spoke to Bemis recently, he said he no longer felt like a flash in the pan with the band's recent success. If one were to judge by the crowd at Warehouse Live, his words have certainly been vindicated.
As an old fan, I went in expecting the crowd to be made up mostly of people like myself, people who had been listening to Say Anything for years, and probably a great deal who -- unlike me -- had lost touch with the band's more recent work. In fact, I found myself singing along to the newer songs surrounded by groups of 16- and 17-year-old fans, belting out every word.
When the band played their older work, I found myself singing with scattered older people who still remembered that stuff, while the younger kids looked on wondering. It was a strange but nice experience and a reminder that Say Anything has surpassed all the expectations of a band of their kind, transcending their genre and continuing to find young, new fans that will stand by them.
It was also nice just to see kids actually supporting a band with integrity.
That integrity shone through on every song the band played, as each and every member poured their heart into their work. The highest point of the show, though, was when they approached the final song before their encore.
It was the moment everyone had been waiting for. As the band blazed through perhaps their most beloved song, "Alive with the Glory of Love," there was a sense of unity in the air. Fans of all ages and of all time periods in the band's career knew and sang along to this one, pouring just as much love into it as the band were themselves.
That's the special thing Say Anything has taken away from the punk scene. No matter how the band grows or changes, there's a feeling of unity and brotherhood in their shows that overwhelms everyone.
As much as fans of the band have related to their lyrics over the years, when they're all standing in one place at one time, singing them in unison along with the man who wrote them, everyone suddenly realizes just how much they really relate to each other.
Personal Bias: Max Bemis has been a personal hero since I was a kid, around the same time I started worshipping the ground Morrissey walks on, too. That being said, I'd still call him out if he disappointed me, and thankfully he didn't.
The Crowd: Mostly young teenagers (some emo kids, who apparently still exist, and a lot of hipsters) and mid-twenties guys in suits trying to relive their high-school days, only this time they can get drunk at the show, too!
Overheard in the Crowd: "No, man, I'm okay," from a kid in front of me to an EMS guy, a minute after vomiting all over the floor, perhaps having gotten an older brother or friend to buy him drinks all night.
Random Notebook Dump: Seeing the older guys yelling, "I called her on the phone and she touched herself" during "Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too" is getting really funny, although I'm slowly becoming those guys myself.
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Spidersong Burn a Miracle Shiksa (Girlfriend) Hate Everyone Belt In Defense of the Genre Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too Eloise Slumming It with Johnny So Good Every Man Has a Molly The Church Channel Property A Walk through Hell Alive with the Glory of Love Encore: Ahhh... Men Admit It!!! Admit It Again