Say Anything & Radar State
St. Andrews Hall – Detroit, MI – 12.13.2017 & 12.14.2017
Photographer: Robert Sherman
Max Bemis, the brain trust behind Say Anything, has hit the road HARD in celebration of ten years since the release of In Defense of the Genre, the band’s third record. As the latest band to hop on the nostalgia bandwagon, Bemis and company found themselves in Detroit on Wednesday and Thursday, playing to a St. Andrews Hall full of fans.
Since In Defense of the Genre is a two-disc collection, the band decided to split the show into two parts, being played on two consecutive nights in snowy southeast Michigan. Instead of just playing IDOTG all the way through on one night, it was decided that on Wednesday night they would also play …Is A Real Boy, and on Thursday night they would play their self-titled record.
Wednesday’s set began with the band busting out, what I think is the better disc on the record, and flying through thirteen songs like a band on a time budget. Not that Bemis is truly known to be a huge talker on stage, some songs just seemed rushed.
Of course, Bemis put his all into the killers from the first disc of the record, particularly “Shiksa (Girlfriend),” “Baby Girl, I’m a Blur,” and my favorites “Surgically Removing the Tracking Device,” and “That Is Why.”
On the record there is a total of 22 guest vocalist’s throughout the entire album and it was quite interesting to see Bemis’ takes on parts originally performed by the likes of Paramore’s Hayley Williams, Taking Back Sunday’s Adam Lazzara, and Saves The Day’s Chris Conley, on the first night.
After finishing up “Sorry Dudes, My Bad”, the band took a small break and returned to the stage with the album that shot them into relevance, …Is A Real Boy. As a fan of the band, this was incredible, because the album is borderline flawless; but the timing of the performance was odd.
Bemis belted out every song on the sophomore record, except for “I Can Get Sexual Too”, which has been scraped from the set list because of the recent explosion of sexual harassment claims in the music scene, in an attempt to be more sensitive (deservedly) towards audience members who may have gone through something related.
I know the tour is for IDOTG, but it may have made more sense to just start with a record, which came first in the band’s discography. I say this because on the second night, Say Anything started with the second disc of In Defense of the Genre, and went onto Say Anything, which is the record after the one being celebrated.
Besides that (very) minor qualm, the show was incredible, and going back to St. Andrews Hall on Thursday felt like a comfortable transition from the prior night’s show.
In my opinion, the second disc of In Defense of the Genre is a little bit lack-luster, but this factor did not translate into the live performance. IDOTG is an album split into two parts, the first is about Bemis ‘losing his mind and falling in love for the first time after,’ while the second part is about ‘losing that love and the confusion that comes after that’.
The change is pace on the second disc was evident on Thursday night, with Bemis opting to play to the crowd less, and focus more on the songs at hand. A few songs that did stand out were “Vexed”, “In Defense of the Genre”, and the records final song, “Plea.”
My favorite section of the two-nighter finally came when Say Anything finally played their self-titled album in its entirety, which disassociates from the punk driven IDOTG for a more poppy, yet emo vibe.
“Hate Everyone”, “Do Better”, “Crush’d”, and “Cemetery” were among the standouts in the bands fourth set, wrapping up a performance of 53 songs in 48 hours.