As you can tell by the above information, I got to do something not many people get to do with this tour. Due a pre-arranged trip, I discovered I would have the opportunity to check out this tour a second time while at home in Seattle. So this review is from two different shows.
Venue dynamics played a huge role in my opinion of the two shows. Pomona supposedly caps at about 900 people, a large room with a decent sized stage, barrier, and about 15-20 security guards. El Corazon has a posted capacity of 807. However, since I’ve been going to shows there since I was 13, I know from experience that anything over 500 is ridiculous. This tiny room where the farthest you can be from the stage is about 60 feet, there is no barrier and crowd surfers take out the lead singer’s microphone cause there is no where else to go.
Opening band, Jonezetta, for me was the surprise on this tour. Only hearing the free EP that was released a long time ago, I didn’t really have much of an opinion of the band. Pomona was the first date with a new keyboardist, and I don’t know how much of a difference it made, but this band is absolutely phenomenal live. Dance-pop rock jams like “Backstabber” and “Get Ready” make it impossible to stand still. With three vocalists, their harmonies aren’t anything new or special but they’re executed perfectly, and that’s much more than I can say for a lot of bands today. Due yourself a favor and check out their new record out on Tooth & Nail.
Up next was sister duo Meg & Dia. My first experience with them was on the Daphne Loves Derby tour, and considering I’m listening to their album right now you can guess that I’ve been converted to a spot in their growing fanbase. I was impressed at these shows how many people in the audience were singing along. They played my favorite song, “Masterpiece” along with “Roses,” “Indiana,” and recent contribution to the Take Action compilation, “Monsters,” and quickly made their way up my charts of the best females in music. Next month they will be playing the Warped Tour kickoff party in Hollywood, for only $10!
Bayside, this band is surrounded with controversy, passion, and triumph between a van accident that killed their former drummer and the open, honest rebuttals their singer Anthony makes at any crude or unjust review of the band. Bayside, attitudes aside, are solid vocally and musically, live and recorded. When you add in their pure disregard for what people think of them, they get even better because you can know everything they do is genuine. Debuting songs off of their recently released, “Walking Wounded” as well as an acoustic song, and plenty of tracks off their last record, the band charged through their set and never really backed off. This being the first time I have ever seen Bayside live, I’m hooked. Pomona was an interesting experience. I severely underestimated their draw to this tour and after the band finished their set, more than 1/3 of the crowd left. In Seattle, while the percentage was not as great, a good amount of people did leave after Bayside. The bands fans seem like some of the most dedicated and passionate I have seen.
After being totally focused on Bayside, I had almost forgotten one of the major reasons I attended this tour. Jamie Tworkowski, founder of To Write Love On Her Arms, and author of the story, took the stage to speak a bit about the vision of the movement. His brief description was met with complete attention of both crowds, and for the first time in a long while I sensed the audience was giving true respect to a speaker. Jamie ended with the introduction of his long time friends and headliners- Anberlin.
Tooth & Nail Records’ band Anberlin have been touring heavily since the release of “Blueprints for the Black Market” in 2003. I first saw them that year with Further Seems Forever, Movielife and Autopilot Off- Anberlin is the only surviving act of that tour. Never really giving them a proper chance, I always held their music as good, but nothing special. When I received a copy of “Cities,” my perspective definitely changed. I immediately tackled the chance to catch their first ever headlining tour.
Normally, I’m not a fan of bands that over produce their live shows. Anberlin, was a definite exception. Carrying along their own lighting rig, group of techs, and many additional pieces of stage equipment, their production equaled almost that of a boy-band. Opening on a dark stage to “A Whisper & A Clamour,” Stephen Christian controlled the crowd as they followed his every move. Pushing through “Never Take Friendship Personal,” the lights danced to the hooks of the songs, growing dark right before the first chorus of “Hello Alone,” the show reached full speed from then on. Playing favorites from “Never Take Friendship Personal” and “Blueprints,” the band balanced out new tracks from “Cities” and even pulled out the acoustic track “Unwinding Cable Car.” One of the best parts of the evening was seeing how perfectly new guitarist Christian (formerly of Acceptance) fit in with the band. His background vocals and stage presence complemented Deon, Nate and Joey’s musicianship perfectly.
Anberlin has reached a level that very few bands will ever push for. As their album continues to climb the charts, the band will continue to tour relentlessly throughout the US, Canada, Japan and more with bands like Copeland, Daphne Loves Derby and also almost all of the entire Warped Tour. It’s doubtful that you’ll be without opportunity to catch their stunning live show.
Photos by Michael Schneider at Glasshouse in Pomona, CA
*my apologies to Bayside-Glasshouse somehow had about 10 too many people doing photo during the set*