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Say Anything/ Saves The Day

Meg & Dia

Orlando, Fl. May 11, 2007

It's another night of horrifically catchy emocentric pop music, and the House of Blues in Orlando is layered thick with sensitive teenagers and college kids who attempt to hit on them. I've seen enough of these shows over the years to have not only swallowed the urge to vomit but know enough to pick through the garbage bin of emo and sort out the shit from the somewhat appealing. Rather, I can understand why some of these guys in tight shirts, who whine about their manic depression and how difficult and boring their middle-class suburban white lives are, have captured the hearts of such a wide percentage of the teenage population. For some of the bands in question, including this night's co-headliners Say Anything and Saves the Day, their music is as organically catchy as any of the pop icons of past generations -- be it the New Kids on the Block generation, or the 'N Sync one -- and, like their predecessors, they've got the clean-cut good looks that sell records.

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Jen Cray
Meg & Dia

I arrived a bit late and so missed Manchester Orchestra, but I did catch opening darlings Meg & Dia. Imagine Tegan & Sara, but younger and with a full band backing them. The sisters, who both share vocals and one of whom handles the bass, are adorable and have saccharine voices that make me feel like I'm listening to Josie & The Pussycats or something. As sugary sweet as these girls are, and let me just say that the audience adored them, I cannot forgive them for doing a cover of Blind Melon's "No Rain."

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Jen Cray
Saves The Day's Chris Conley

Maybe I'm just feeling jaded, but all I could think of during this meaningless little sing-along was that the last time I saw this song performed live, Shannon Hoon (Blind Melon vocalist) was so strung out on heroin he could hardly remember the words and we, the audience, had to sing it for him. That was in 1994. He overdosed and died a year later.

I don't know what it is about powerpop veterans Saves The Day (at 10 years, they've paid enough dues to be respected) that has brought me back to see them three times within just over a year's time, but here I was again, at the foot of the stage, shooting them. I don't own a Saves The Day CD, I don't know their songs apart from a few titles, yet their charisma is undeniable, and I keep expecting their songs to just suddenly "click" with me. Thinking, maybe on this night, their performance will be so incendiary that I won't be able to resist running out and buying every single one of their albums.

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Jen Cray
Say Anything's Max Bemis

This was not that night, but it was the best set I've seen them play and the most enthusiastically I've seen their crowd respond. Playing just over 45 minutes and killing the crowd with popular tunes like "Eulogy," "At Your Funeral," and "Freakish," they could have easily played a longer set and still left the crowd begging.

Show closers Say Anything seemed more in tune with one another than they were when I caught their opening set for Dashboard Confessional ("this tour is a lot more fun than that one," vocalist Max Bemis confessed) last year, but I'm still not totally convinced they should have been billed above Saves The Day. Sure, they've got hooks that will implant themselves in your head for days on end, most notably "Wow I Can Get Sexual Too," with the chorus of "I called her on the phone and she touched herself," but are they really a band of substance or just able to write some catchy four-minute songs? Does it matter? Not to this audience. Say Anything had their crowd enraptured, and bringing out Chris Conley to help with vocals early on didn't hurt.

To see more photos of this show, and others, go to www.jencray.com.

www.sayanythingmusic.com