Say Anything Revamped @The Electric Factory

Say Anything, now and indefinitely “Max Bemis and Co.” always put on a good show in the past, but this recent show at The Electric Factory had a little air of mystery behind it. It wasn’t a reinvention, but it was the closest thing to it. How would their new material sound? How would their old material sound?

As with any show, the opening bands meant the audience had a little longer to ponder those questions. First up was You Blew It!, a pop-punk band hailing from Orlando, Florida that lingered on the emo side of things. Proving their chops throughout their set, the foursome had a camaraderie and huge smiles that proved they not only loved what they were doing, they had a blast doing it too.

Next were The So-So Glos, a punk band from Brooklyn, New York whose self-proclaimed “Americana punk” unfortunately fell flat on most of the audience. Their swagger was a tad overplayed and their songs all sounded too similar to one another. Several failed attempts to get the audience involved didn’t help the matter.  It was obvious that besides the rote redundancy of the music itself, most of the audience was waiting for the next two bands in the lineup.

They didn’t disappoint. The Front Bottoms of New Jersey brought a lot of hometown fans across the river, with their stage setup including their band initials in blow up form as the backdrop and several “wacky inflatable arm flailing tube men” that inflated at random throughout the set. This goes some length to getting across the reckless joy and abandon these guys have when they play a set, which is absolutely infectious and had the whole crowd dancing up a frenzy. Frontman Brian Sella is jovial and accessible and a laugh riot between songs. The closer “Twin Sized Mattress” had most of the other band members joining in onstage with the wacky flailing inflatable tube men. It was quite a spectacle and set the tone for the headlining band.

After a small interlude, Say Anything came out to bar mitzvah-esque music. Launching into their first single “Six Six Six” off the new album Hebrews, any worries about how those songs would translate to the stage were assuaged; the songs arguably sounded better live, as the orchestral rock sounds of the album gave way to a more expected traditional rock arrangement. Max Bemis live is a force to be reckoned with. He jumped around the stage, going harder than anyone in the crowd and never missing a beat in the meantime, quite a feat considering the wordiness of his songs. They ran their way through the hits old and new, with the new lineup of musicians proving to be the best yet. New drummer Reed Murray especially put all the naysaying to rest by proving his chops time and time again, easily filling the sizeable void left by the departure of longtime original drummer Coby Linder.

Max also proved this was more than being “Max Bemis and Co”; this was also a family affair. On the song “Cemetery”, his wife Sherri came out to sing a duet with him, along with their baby daughter Lucy, replete with her custom fitted bright pink earmuffs. As Max and Sherri belted the song, little Lucy didn’t hesitate to reach for the microphone and try to sing along herself. It was an adorable image, atypical to see at a rock concert, and the chorus of “you’re in my body, that’s where I think about you” transcended its romantic nature and became something embodying the family ideal, one that Max presented onstage without hesitation. In a day and age where romance is consistently forsaken and romantic morals are constantly clouded, to see a man formerly plagued by addiction and destructive tendencies present himself and his family as open as that is truly inspiring.

They continued to shred through their set list, ending with a rendition of “Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too” that had the whole crowd singing and shimmying. For their encore, Max came out with an acoustic guitar and treated the audience to his rendition of Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “Got Your Money” which was both unexpected and typically brilliant. They wrapped up with an incendiary 1-2 punch of “Boyd”, a song off the new album that’s possibly the heaviest Say Anything song ever, and “Belt” a crowd-pleasing favorite that, a la Front Bottoms, brought all the openers back out onstage to join in the outro chant of “what say you and all your friends meet all of my friends in the alley tonight?”

During the show, Max admitted that he loves Philly, it’s a standard highlight of his tours that always makes him feel like he’s at home to the point where he wishes he was actually from Philly. Mr. Bemis (and company), you’re free to come back any time you’d like. 

Image courtesy of the band’s Facebook page.

2 Comments

  1. Wakana

    July 12, 2014 at 10:29 am

    That’s so cute that he brought his family out on stage! Awesome.

  2. Justin Harlan

    July 14, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    DUDE! They played “Got Yo Money”?!?!?!?!

    That said, I have found that as time goes on, Say Anything is less just Max and company and more about the whole band. He even incorporates band members in song writing from time to time (which is very un-Max) these days.

    Overall, bummed I missed it but glad they are still killing it live.

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