Photos & Story by Kevin Menendez
Regardless of it being unseasonably warm in my home state of good old New Jersey, its beautiful shores and boardwalks are all closed until Memorial Day weekend, which at this point seems like a lifetime away. As the temperatures dip and the layers of clothing increase, one thing was for certain: nothing was stopping the masses from attending the second annual Taking Back Sunday Holiday Spectacular. The show was at the Starland Ballroom, which to me is New Jersey's only true concert venue, and it was sold out to capacity for TBS.
Before Taking Back Sunday took the stage, they had two solid openers. The first to take the stage that was fully equipped with Christmas trees was Modern Chemistry, from just a stones throw away in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Modern Chemistry had a large contingency of fans there to support them. The other opener was Beach Slang out of Philadelphia, and both openers played strong, impressive sets that the crowd that just continuously piled in appreciated very much.
TBS took their time before casually meandering on stage which left the New Jersey crowd to grow somewhat restless and thirsty for what was sure to be an amazing performance. One of the most amusing moments came as the crowd gave very loud ovations to the IHOP advertisement that was show on the drop down projector screen in between sets but those cheers paled in comparison to the ones they gave TBS when the screen ascended up and the band came out and opened with "What It Feels Like To Be A Ghost.” The sold out crowd of approximately 2,500 fans, who were all just about shoulder to shoulder, came unglued, and with good reason, as throughout the set TBS played many great tracks like "Flicker, Fade" and “Liar," much to the delight of the crowd.
Taking Back Sunday did a remarkable job of making a venue the size of Starland Ballroom feel like a bingo hall, and the amount of energy in the room was unparalleled to anything you could imagine, making the room almost feel like a backyard keg party. They relentlessly touched on almost all six of their albums and even played "My Blue Heaven,” a song they admittedly don't perform live very often. Moments like that made it very easy for the capacity crowd to sing along, and they did just so in a furious fashion with lead singer Adam Lazzara, even handling the back up duties that are normally occupied by John Nolan. They broke into "Cute Without The E,” which was possibly the loudest singalong of the night, and after that, the band departed to what you could imagine was a very overwhelming ovation.
No one seemed fooled by their antics, though, as about ten minutes later, they reemerged and performed a three song encore opening, it up with "Great Romances of the 20th Century,” followed by a really cool moment where Lazzara's son came out and chatted with the capacity crowd in a very cute segment which then lead into a new song that remains unnamed (Edit: The track is titled “Tidal Wave” and video can be viewed below), but had a very old school punk sound with a classic TBS spin on it. After, they announced that it was finally their last song of the evening, which garnered many moans and groans. But if it truly was the last song of the evening, only one seemed to fit, which was none other than "Make Damn Sure,” and TBS made damn sure they let it all hang out to the delight of everyone in attendance (who at this point was in a state of pure pandemonium). There was an uncontrollable amount of pitting and singing taking place and as the song came to an end the exhausted crowd gave a long well deserved ovation
When it was all said and done, Taking Back Sunday was flawless, as Lazzara did not have to work very hard to encapsulate the energy and emotion of the sold out crowd. For some fans, they were attending the show with old friends they've lost touch with as they've gotten older and it was a chance to recapture their youth. For others, it was the next generation of teenagers out making their own memories. I just hope in 10 years, they have the chance to be reunited as well.