Bayside Strips Down Pop Punk Anthems at White Oak Music Hall

Kayleigh Goldsworthy (far left) joined Bayside onstage
Kayleigh Goldsworthy (far left) joined Bayside onstage Photo by Matthew Keever
White Oak Music Hall
January 11, 2019

Bigger isn't always better.

I know we're in Texas, but sometimes a bit of coziness is preferable to all the grandeur. In the case of Bayside, the longtime punk-rockers who have released seven studio albums over the past 15 years, a smaller venue made for the perfect setting for their latest stop in the Bayou City.

The New York natives visited White Oak Music Hall on Friday night on tour in support of their latest release, Acoustic Volume 2. Situated on the venue's smallest stage upstairs, Bayside drew a crowd of approximately 200 people who crammed themselves into the room.

Putting the band in such a confined space could have resulted in mayhem during a typical Bayside show, but it made for the perfect setting for an acoustic set. Vocalist Anthony Raneri and his bandmates eschewed their typically rambunctious act in favor of a stripped-down performance, one that was filled with hits and quite a few songs that rarely make it on the set lists.

The hits included "Devotion And Desire," "They Looked Like Strong Hands" and "Sick Sick Sick." Lesser-known tracks that made the cut included "Not Fair" and "The Ghost." Newcomers wouldn't have been able to differentiate between the favorites and the deep cuts, because everyone in attendance seemed to know each word to all the songs.

Friday night marked the first night of the second leg of the band's latest tour. "We used to tour for like six weeks in a row," Raneri told the crowd. "Then we got old." In between songs about heartbreak, self-doubt and suicide, Bayside casually chatted with fans and shared some fairly private details about themselves. Guitarist Jack O'Shea went as far as informing the crowd that Houston was where he and his wife (then-girlfriend) first had marital relations.

"Because of the content of our songs, I think a lot of people come to our shows and expect us to say something profound and, well, it's not going to happen," Raneri said as he tuned his guitar mid-set. "We really don't know how to be serious. Sorry."

In lieu of forced sageness, O'Shea set the scene by requesting everyone imagine it was 2002 and they were inside of a Hot Topic. With that, the band launched into "I Can't Go On," in which our narrator tells a former lover he might be better off dead than stuck in a relationship with her. Emo at its finest.

Friday night provided longtime fans a chance to see Bayside in rare form. The band will visit Houston again, likely sooner than later, but they'll bring larger amps and higher energies. As much fun as that will be, I sure am glad I was able to catch them on this intimate tour.

So, How Was The Opener?
Kayleigh Goldsworthy blew away the sold-out crowd with her opener "West Coast." Unfortunately, Houston fans have short attention spans, and the Philadelphia native was nearly drowned out for much of the rest of her set.

A frequent collaborator with the likes of Against Me! and The Mezingers, Goldsworthy's solo material was both thoughtful and catchy. And her wit was just as cutting as her lyrics.

"You're all here to see Bayside acoustic?" she asked to roars of applause. "Well then, you'll need to be quieter than that."

Devotion And Desire
It Don't Exist
I Think I'll Be Ok
Not Fair
Transitive Property
They Looked Like Strong Hands
I Can't Go On
The Ghost
Sick Sick Sick
Blame It On Bad Luck
On Love, On Life
Don't Call Me Peanut
Don't Look Back In Anger (Oasis cover)
Landing Feet First
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Matt is a regular contributor to the Houston Press’ music section. He graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in print journalism and global business. Matt first began writing for the Press as an intern, having accidentally sent his resume to the publication's music editor instead of the news chief. After half a decade of attending concerts and interviewing musicians, he has credited this fortuitous mistake to divine intervention.
Contact: Matthew Keever