I haven’t been to Fête since experiencing the longest and latest show I’ve been to (Wyclef Jean. March. 2018.) However, Wednesday night’s emo-strong bill of old and new seemed like a perfect excuse to end my hiatus at the music hall.
I’d never heard of awakebutstillinbed and what I know now, I learned from them. They’re an extremo (extreme emo, of course) band out of San Jose and their bassist likes Better Oblivion Community Center (great taste) and their lead singer, Shannon Taylor, shout-sings like it’s an absolute emergency. Their entire set came off of an album they released in 2018 titled “what people call low self-esteem is just seeing yourself the way that other people see you.” Perfect.
As a strong supporter of all emotional music, I haven’t aged out of feeling my feelings, particularly in a crowd. Taylor’s songs facilitated an entire mood. Her lyrics are real and tangible, validating in their diary-like-epicness (see: ‘Opener’). Her bandmates sang along to every song, the crowd of converts headbanged to every wailing vocal. Seismic and alive, awakebutstillinbed play with the same blood and bone of those bands who paved the way.
Joyce Manor is THAT band. Who knew? I know I’ve been out of the scene for a minute but good Lord. I haven’t been to a more physical show since Hey Mercedes in 2016. To say that Joyce Manor’s fans love them denies and minimizes their total and complete worship of everything this band is. Formed in 2008, Joyce Manor is a power-pop emo band out of California and they came to play 500 songs in a single breath.
What I gathered: Every song is big, accessible, and shouted back by fans. All energy, all fist-pumping-at-the-stage madness, all hook, and thrash. Content-wise, songs like “Heart Tattoo”, “This Song Is A Mess and So Am I” and “Think I’m Still In Love With You” gave a pretty good indication of what this band is all about: adolescent affinity. Shannon Taylor came out for “The Jerk” and, true to form, the crowd effectively lost their mind. Every song was met with a fan climbing on stage, waiting their turn to dive. The mosh pits were like quicksand, the snap-chatting; obsessive.
One fan managed to get on stage and record himself singing along with Barry Johnson (frontman) multiple times (and much to the dismay of Fête security). Crowd requests made up the last 20 minutes of their set (who doesn’t love that?) until ending with “Christmas Card”. It was a whirlwind of whiplash and Converse High Tops. Joyce Manor is a great band with a lot of prowess in their genre but it’s their umbilical cord-like connection with fans that’s earned them true cult status.
Short story time. Saves the Day is the band that made me all my friends in college. They played an in-store concert at Newbury Comics in Boston for the release of ‘In Reverie’ and a bunch of students in the English department decided to go. I tagged along, rode the train for the first time, and the rest is history. Needless to say, it was great seeing Chris Conley, the last remaining original member, and hear the songs I’ve loved since 1999. The crowd parted sea after Joyce Manor. A bunch of people left or moved to the back, giving space to elder millennials (such as myself) to move upfront.
The energy was different. It was less fanatical and more reverent.; fist-pumping-at-the-stage madness happened but in smaller doses. Conley’s recognizable-in-the-dark voice sounded as good as ever which got me in my feels, and while in the past he has played lead rhythm guitar, he did not pick up an instrument all night. Leaving no time for conversation, Saves the Day blasted through 23 songs all clean and neat with little surprise. They seemed happy to be there and they performed well but their connection with fans felt a little untethered. Maybe it’s the revolving door of band members taking a hit at nostalgia, maybe it’s the show with a curfew (I like the curfew! Curfews are good!) changing the vibe, or maybe we’re just older and the music hits differently. It’s hard to wrestle with sentimentality but what I can confirm is that folks were excited, still, going full fanatic over “Holly Hox Forget Me Nots”, “A Drag In D Flat”, “Suzuki”, and “Cars & Calories” to name a few. Special shout out to the dude in front of me in The Movielife t-shirt who air drummed perfectly to every single song. That made me smile for real and served as an incredible reminder that Saves the Day, a twenty-years-old emo band, still means so much to so many. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. God save the scene.