Taking Back Sunday at The Riviera Theatre

It had been roughly twelve years since the first time I saw a Taking Back Sunday show. A lot has changed since then. I do not have the same tastes as I did when I was fourteen. It’s been quite some time since I played through their debut album Tell All Your Friends. Now, thirteen years since the album’s release the Long Islanders are still selling out shows in Chicago. The crowd was quite the mix of people presumably in the same boat as I am, and individuals that were in the same boat I once sailed in. One of the most interesting parts of the show had nothing to do with the music. Three songs into the set (spaced nicely between three different albums) Adam Lazzara introduced the group. He announced to the sold out venue that the band’s name was Taking Back Sunday.

I think it’s a unique spot to be in. This isn’t 2000 in a New York dive bar. This isn’t their first tour, and they aren’t opening to a crowd who could give a damn who they are. They were playing in front of 2,500 fans who just got finished singing every single word to “Number Five with a Bullet.” We all knew who the gentlemen on stage were. And yet, there was something self-effacing in the delivery. Maybe I’m off and it was an act of self-indulgence, but the tone and delivery seemed sincere. Regardless of end-game, the crowd radiated with a few words which made the venue seem a tiny bit more intimate.

The sounds filling our collective earholes were more or less what I expected. The group was tight and didn’t deviate from the compositional road map very often. As bands that find success often do, there’s a sense of formulaic writing throughout one’s portfolio of sounds. Hell, it’s human nature to find and replicate patterns that work. With TBS they have these enormously built up outros to their songs. Usually it consists of layers of vocals between Lazzara and John Nolan. Sometimes they introduce a new set of lyrics like in “Ghost Man on Third.” Or, it could be as simple as making a secondary vocal part the main focus as the outro vamps on bridge’s chord progression like in “A Decade Under the Influence.” As lively as the closing moments can sound through headphones, hearing it in person gives them an extra boost. This is quite the formula to have when trying to entertain droves of concert goers.

Throughout the night, the audience was treated to the mic swinging tricks Lazzara is known to perform. A trait so embraced the band even produced merchandise donning the phrase “proudly swinging since 1999.” Embraced so much, he fed the crowd projectile mics every chance he could. The only thing I wonder is how long of a shelf life does an XLR cable have once Lazzara is through with it? I’ll wait for my answer… At the very least, I can tell you from the volume of the ‘TBS’ chants roaring before the encore this group’s presence doesn’t appear to be dying out anytime soon.

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