If years were auditory, my 2004 would sound like Taking Back Sunday’s second studio album Where You Want to Be. I guess my ‘listening genre’ could pretty much be classified as ‘singer-songwriter’ heavy, but I have to throw a little rebellious hell in there every once in a while to keep it interesting. This is one of those fires.
Last week, the Long Island-based band, together on and off since 1999, performed at House of Blues Dallas following the release of their self-titled fifth studio album.
“Taking Back Sunday?” a coworker asked me before I embarked on my interview with the alternative band. “That’s a little intense for you, isn’t it?”
Negatory. If anything, they’re a volume-cranker.
“What are you thinking?” drummer Mark O’Connell asks guitarist John Nolan, who remarks on the heavy question. O’Connell notes the filthiness of his shoes, how he should probably purchase a pair of non-stage sneakers and whether or not they are machine-washable.
The two members of Taking Back Sunday are sitting on a couch in the Foundation Room, cracking jokes and relaxing post-sound check. “Yeah, we’re really cool,” O’Connell laughs. You know that whole never-meet-your-heroes adage? Doesn’t apply to them. I tell Nolan that “Existentialism on Prom Night” (product of side-project Straylight Run) is one of my favorite songs of all time. Ever. He humbly nods his head and says a genuine “Thank you.”
“Oh we’re playing that tonight,” O’Connell chimes in, “we play that every night [on this tour] actually.” My insides swell with the promise of hearing it performed live. We talk through their latest album, the recording process in El Paso, TX and band chemistry, finally reignited onstage after a few albums apart. (The interview aired today on YouPlusDallas.)
They kick off the show with energy and angst-packed “MakeDamnSure” and “Liar (It Takes One to Know One)” from 2006 Louder Now. “You guys gotta lot of work to do and so do we,” lead singer Adam Lazzarra tells the Dallas crowd in comparison to the previous nights’ Houston show.
Lazzara’s ratio of talking voice to singing voice is ridiculous. Merely hearing him speak, you’d never think that he could record five albums’ worth of screaming vocals, but he did so as if his maker gave his vocal chords an extra AA battery.
“We have a record that came out [June 24th],” Lazzara says, walking the stage with a Keith Richards meets Captain Jack Sparrow swagger, announcing their latest single. “This song is called ‘Faith (When I Let You Down),’” a refreshingly quintessential TBS song; a throwback to the early 2000’s.
Incredibly gifted at finding the incision to every emotion, Taking Back Sunday’s lyrics had to have been scribbled on lockers and permanently inked into five-star binders of every American high school student.
With his long, disheveled hair falling in his face, Lazzara sang “One-Eighty By Summer,” the audience clapping right along, as if to say “yes, yes I know exactly where you’re coming from” to the brutally cutting lyrics.
On “Set Phasers to Stun,” Lazzara felt compelled to dive, barefooted, into the crowd. I’ve never really understood the using of humans as a trampoline, but everyone seemed pretty excited to get a handful of lead singer and pass him around the pit.
Venturing on a bar crawl around the room during “Ghost Man on Third,” Lazzara stopped near my place in the crowd, close enough for me to see him pull the mic away from his face and utter “just a shot of Jack” to the barkeep.
How did he get back up to the stage, you ask? It’s simple when you’re a rock star. He crowd surfed back to the tune of “Cute Without the ‘E’ (Cut from the Team).”
I was still waiting to hear my promised song when the venue went dark.
Nolan reappeared onstage and approached the keys with pure passion. Lazzara’s smile reflected the crowd’s happiness knowing TBS was playing a song everyone was secretly dying to hear. After a week of searching for a way to properly characterize the song, I’ve found it. Pure catharsis.
Now Hear This: “Existentialism on Prom Night.” I’m sorry, but you just have to. It’s borderline bloody perfect.
View the YouPlusDallas Photo Gallery: Taking Back Sunday