Friday night, I was able to catch a lovely tour pass through my city: Taking Back Sunday featuring Epitaph Records’ Letlive and The Menzingers. To say I was excited was an understatement. The Menzingers have been a loved band of mine since their first studio album, A Lesson in the Abuse of Information Technology, and have been in my top 5 favorite bands since their 2012 Epitaph debut, On The Impossible Past. Letlive is a band I’ve seen live a couple times and completely fell for: Jason Butler’s energy on stage is invigorating, and he truly encompasses what it means to be a performer driven by passion.
Finally, Taking Back Sunday is 1 of 5 bands that inspired younger me to pursue music as a career for my life. I grew up with Taking Back Sunday – their album debut, Tell All Your Friends, came out when I was in middle school. I love bands whose lyrics tell stories, and I love bands who strive to reach a higher level of engagement – of feeling – with their fans. That’s what Taking Back Sunday (and many other bands) did for me, and that’s why I strive to aid in the marketing and sales strategies that enables albums to be distributed to the public. I want to make music accessible to the people, so it can touch lives like it touched mine.
The Menzingers kicked off the show in perfect fashion. The band has been one of the few artists in this day and age that has seen a beautiful, organic growth. If you look through the band’s musical career, there is clear evidence of this growth and how they have progressed due to the ways of many music predecessors, prior to the explosion of the digital age. One of these ways is by touring with larger bands – like Taking Back Sunday (this being their second tour with TBS) – and having the larger band’s fan base embrace them. It means a lot when a fan base now-a-days will take the time to care about a band they have not heard on Spotify, the radio, or Pandora before seeing the band live. That being said, The Menzingers’ set for this show had the highest sound quality I have ever heard by the band, and I have seen them play now 6 times, ranging from a 50 person living room at my college to Riot Fest Brooklyn. They played a set predominately consisting of songs from On The Impossible Past, with a few hits from Rented World mixed in. The precision by which they hit the notes was amazing, and I am truly proud to have witnessed the band reach the point they are at now.
Next on the bill was Los Angeles’ own, Letlive. I’m fairly certain the Hollywood Palladium is the largest Los Angeles show that the band has performed, and Letlive was nothing but grateful for the opportunity to play the show. The band is made up of class act guys who embrace life and spread words of peace and equality throughout the crowd. The songs are high energy, and they played a lot from the first Epitaph release, The Blackest Beautiful. Singer Jason Butler embraces all musical feeling and lets the beats and melodies encompass him as he performs. He is an acrobat on stage, living in the moment, and urging fans to do the same – to appreciate every second they have on this earth. Letlive is a driving force in the music scene today, carrying principles from a scene long past and inspiring today’s youth.
Finally, headliner and alternative veterans Taking Back Sunday took the stage. Almost immediately, I lost myself into the music as I fell deep into the familiar and soothing sounds. Something about the honesty and purity of Adam Lazzara’s lyrics strike a chord with me (and many other people, clearly). I know for a fact, though, that Taking Back Sunday’s appeal is not only due to the quality of the lyrics, but also to the energy and passion the band emits on stage. While no longer as acrobatic as his 2003 “hang from the stage lights and sing upside down” days, Lazzara will still climb onto balconies, crawl through crowds of thousands of people, and complete hand stands, all mid song. He lets the music take full control of him, and the band as a whole allows the music to wash away all other things in their lives at the moment. That’s the point of music, isn’t it? Escaping from the droning pains of every day life? The band played songs from Tell All Your Friends, Where You Want To Be, Louder Now, New Again, Taking Back Sunday, and Happiness Is, so basically from their entire discography.
It was interesting to see younger, new fans be more excited about songs from the self-titled and Happiness Is, while older fans like myself jumped with joy about songs from Tell All Your Friends, like “You’re So Last Summer”. I remember at one point, Adam Lazzara was about to go into a deep speech about how difficult a song was for him to write, let alone perform, but he couldn’t stop smiling. He couldn’t get himself to be serious enough and had to work very hard to compose himself. He said how every day singing this song and playing each show has made him stronger, and that he hopes the music can bring this kind of happiness to each and every one of the fans in the audience. Hearing him say this sentence re-instilled in me why I love this band and music in general.
This fact about music – how it can truly make you feel hopeful and alive – is why 14-year-old-me wanted to be in the music industry, and to this day, it is why I work with and in music. Bands like Taking Back Sunday, The Menzingers, My Chemical Romance, AFI, Against Me!, and many, many more have all left a unique mark on my life, and I can only hope to make artists’ careers long and plentiful and their music accessible enough to as many people as possible to continue spreading this feeling.