Taking Back Sunday are currently gracing Australian shores with their presence to showcase their latest audio offering, Tidal Wave. The US rockers have played packed shows across the country and hit up The Gov on Wednesday night, bringing Endless Heights and Acceptance along for the ride. Radelaide was lucky enough to relive the glory days of emo music, taking us back to high school, adolescent feels and a sense of teenage angst that a certain Radelaide writer never entirely grew out of.
A bit of background for those of you who didn’t exclusively shop for your skinny jeans at Jay Jays in the early to mid-2000s: Taking Back Sunday have been pumping out tunes since 2002 and are veterans of the emo music scene. The boys’ first album, Tell All Your Friends, resulted in success on the alt-rock scene, however their breakthrough 2006 album, Louder Now, catapulted them into cross-genre stardom. They’ve supported acts such as Linkin Park and The All-American Rejects, and have played festivals including Soundwave (AUS) and Warped Tour (US).
Tidal Wave, released last year, is the band’s seventh studio album and took the group in a different direction to previous discs. The lads decided to write the album in the studio as they recorded. The result is a 12-track album showcases what has kept Taking Back Sunday going for over a decade; a unique and rare ability to redefine themselves and their sound in each new release.
Wednesday’s show kicked off with Sydney rockers Endless Heights. Bums were off seats to watch these lads blast tracks off their latest EP, Teach You How To Leave. The five piece have toured with some big names of the metalcore scene, including Aussie dudes Northlane and In Hearts Wake. Aside from their newer tunes, the audience was also treated to songs off previous album New Bloom. With their big sound and melodic vocals, it’s easy to see why Endless Heights are growing in popularity and getting a lot of love from triple j.
US pop-rock poster boys Acceptance were next on the bill. 2005 release Phantoms was the first and only album released by the quintet before going on hiatus for 9 years from 2006 (classic emo band move). While nearly a decade off would usually affect a band’s success, Phantoms became a cult classic and resulted in the lads having a rather loyal fan base considering they weren’t doing a whole lot for almost a decade. In 2015, the group reunited to smash out last month’s release, Colliding By Design.
The Seattle gang couldn’t have asked for a more excited crowd for their first time on Australian soil. Playing to a hyper-up mosh pit, Acceptance played 40 minutes of non-stop bangers and ballads, and the band’s explosive energy was mirrored by the crowd shouting lyrics right back at them. Seamlessly executing their set featuring songs written and recorded 12 years apart, the alt-rockers wowed with their signature catchy melodies and big choruses. Closing with crowd favourite Take Cover, Acceptance left the crowd hungry for more and will surely be welcomed back to Australia in the future with open, tattooed arms.
Soon it was time for the pièce de résistance. Taking Back Sunday entered onto a minimalist stage with no obvious branding other than a flag scrawled with the band’s motif draped over a road case. The crowd of all ages, including a small child watching with earmuffs on, went ballistic as the Long Island legends belted out the leading song off Tidal Wave, Death Wolf, proving that the fivesome has still got it and can keep up with even the rowdiest pop-punk kids. Next up was renowned track Liar, which had the crowd singing along with frontman Adam Lazzara’s every word.
Lazzara oozes showmanship. A seasoned performer with a romantic Southern drawl, he knows the tricks of the trade and has perfectly executed his on-stage stunts of swinging the microphone around his neck, singing through his thick mane of hair and what I can only describe as moonwalking forwards. His enthralling stage presence resulted in all eyes being on him, no matter how much one wanted to look at drummer Mark O’Connell’s lighting quick wrists or guitarists Shaun Cooper and Eddie Reyes’ expert finger work.
In between songs, the show was peppered with on-stage banter, particularly between Lazzara and lead guitarist/back up vocalist John Nolan. Conversations regarding what day it was, Lazzara’s Royal Thunder t-shirt and the fact that musicians don’t cope well with 7am flights provided the audience with much-needed relief between punchy songs.
The boys played a number of songs off their new album, including title track Tidal Wave, You Can’t Look Back and Holy Water. Much to the delight of long-term fans, they also played ultimate emo tunes You’re So Last Summer and final songs of the night. Cute Without The E and MakeDamnSure. The band’s catalogue of musical prowess was on show, proving the pop-punk genre isn’t confined to a single sound.
Notably heavier in the flesh in comparison to disc, the lads appeared as stoked to be here as the crowd was to have them. Lazzara decided to skip the clichéd encore ritual, and substituted the ego-massaging chants of “one more song” for an extra song into the already jam-packed set.
With almost 20 years’ experience and 6 Aussie tours under their belt, Taking Back Sunday are definitely a musical force to be reckoned with. With 90 minutes of genuinely funny repartee, perfectly executed sound and unparalleled stage presence, these guys prove that emo never dies.
Header image via Ticketmaster