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Say Anything Serves a Healthy Dose of Nostalgia at The Eastern in Atlanta

Say Anything

The year is 2004. While waiting for the school bus to arrive and take me to middle school, I sneak into the bathroom and wedge my mom's Remington hair straightener between my agenda and textbook in my backpack. I rush to the bus stop, ready to pass it along to my best friend in 7th grade homeroom for her to help me straighten my hair. I pop in my cheap JVC headphones, press play on my iPod mini, and turn The Futile up to full blast so that everyone I pass in the hallway can hear it.

Needless to say, when they scanned my ticket at The Eastern for Say Anything's 20-year anniversary tour for ...Is A Real Boy, I knew I was in for a night full of nostalgia.

First on the bill was Greet Death who, in their own words, "used to be from Michigan but now live all over." With their uniquely dark and melancholic, yet simultaneously catchy, blend of slowcore, shoegaze, and post-rock, Greet Death set the tone perfectly for the evening.

Back in 2022, I had the pleasure of seeing and photographing Greet Death for the first time on their tour with Infant Island in a small bar in West Atlanta. It's truly been a pleasure following along, witnessing their progress and evolution as a band, and snapping some photos along the way.

Up next were folk-rock titans, AJJ. I was particularly excited to catch them again, seeing as the last time I had the chance to see them live was back in 2012 at The Masquerade's original location. And to say that they've evolved in that 12-year span would be a severe understatement. Their entire set was electric, closing out with an epic extended-ending rendition of Big Bird, my favorite song from their 2011 release, Knife Man.

And the record begins with a song of rebellion.

And so it began. When Say Anything took the stage and the sound for Belt came over the PA, words can't even describe the wave of nostalgia that rushed over me. But I guess that's what I'm supposed to do here, so I should probably try. My initial thought was, "Is it professional to lose your voice singing along in the photo pit? Probably not," so I used all of my restraint and kept it together long enough to hold my camera up and do my best to capture Say Anything in all their "Glory" (....sorry). When that terrible pun popped into my head, I immediately did some quick mental math and realized, "Oh! The first three songs are in the pit so it'll be perfect timing for me to finally lose my voice to Alive With the Glory of Love." So as I snapped away, Max Bemis continued to try his best to overpower the reverberating echo of the crowd screaming along to Woe and The Writhing South.

The "first three, no flash," ended and I navigated my way through the sold-out crowd to experience the performance and witness the crowd's energy from different perspectives. We're going to skip Alive With the Glory of Love because while singing along I fogged up my viewfinder, but Say Anything powered through the rest of ...Is A Real Boy, with frontman Max Bemis masterfully working the crowd, intermittently extending the mic stand out to the audience to highlight the overwhelming nostalgia that the sold-out crowd shared with me by singing along at the tops of their lungs. When the phone-ringing soundclip started to kick off Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too, the crowd's resounding scream pierced through my earplugs. I watched from the upper-level balcony as the sold-out crowd threw their hands into the air, screamed, hugged each other, and cried along as Max Bemis belted out the chorus, "I called her on the phone and she touched herself, I laughed myself to sleep." As the song concluded, Say Anything walked off the stage and the lights dimmed.

As the crowd continued to chant and scream, Bemis walked back onto the stage, acoustic guitar in hand. He walked up to the microphone and welcomed his wife and vocalist of Eisley, Sherri DuPree-Bemis, onto the stage to perform a beautiful rendition of I Want to Know Your Plans. Max bowed to her as she smiled and walked off-stage, and the rest of the band rejoined him for an energetic performance of, Admit It!! The crowd, likely as hoarse as I was from singing along, continued to echo Bemis's carefully crafted critique of pseudo-intellectual virtue-signalling hipsters. They left the stage and the cheers reverberated as we all filtered out, frantically speculating as to whether or not we could expect an anniversary tour of In Defense of the Genre in 2027.



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