Taking Back Sunday and The Used
with Tonight Alive and Sleepwave
House of Blues / Orlando, FL Sunday / April 27th, 2014
Orlando's popular 2,000+ seat live music venue played host for the last night of a six-week-long U.S. concert tour -- a sold-out sight and sound spectacle, featuring three noisy collectives and one rock band.
Led by former Underoath frontman, Spencer Chamberlain, Sleepwave hit the early birds hard with a heavy and hookless 6PM opening set. Resembling Metallica circa '84, the members of the St. Petersburg, Florida industrial/metal group rocked super-long, straight coifs and black T's with skinny britches -- for whom the bell tolls, dude! Yet despite the array of onstage musical instruments, the 30-minute performance was void of any actual songs.
"House of Blues, put your hands in the air!" enthused Jenna McDougall -- frontchick for the Australian punk/pop garage combo, Tonight Alive. Clearly connecting with the night's angst-filled "Glee" faction, the band bounced about the stage, brimming with non-stop energy throughout its 30-minute set. However, the full effectiveness of the band's snappy tunes was compromised by McDougall's penchant for gratuitous F-bombs. FYI, cussing + spitting doesn't = cred -- especially when spewed from the throat of "Hannah Montana's" scrappy little sister. Dressed "bag lady chic" in a shabby T-shirt and torn jeans with a backwards ball cap, McDougall possessed all of the femininity of my buddy Carmine who operates a lucrative independent local landscaping/meth business. Simply put, Tonight Alive has the potential to become a bona fide world-class act if McDougall's contrived "Durst-factor" can be reeled in.
Retina-burning white lights beamed from a menagerie of empty onstage microwave ovens as The Used hit the stage at approximately 8PM.
"You are witnessing a perfect example of functioning anarchy," announced frontman Bert McCracken, as a sea of frenzied moshing ensued immediately and fans were hoisted over the front-of-house security barricade by beefy members of the HOB "Safety Team."
The 60-minute set featured a variety of aggressive, career-spanning anthems, including "Take It Away" from the 2004 album In Love and Death, "The Bird and the Worm" from 2007's Lies for the Liars and "Make Believe" from the band's latest release, Imaginary Enemy. However, the highlight of The Used set arguably was the 2,000-strong, full-on crowd chant-along during the 2004 fan fave, "I Caught Fire."
Seemingly caught off guard, dashing frontman Adam Lazzara was still crushing out the butt of his final pre-show smoke as the curtain opened and the pride of Amityville/Long Island, Taking Back Sunday broke bad on the HOB faithful at 9:30. Ah, a rock band -- with songs!
Possessing true blue rock and roll swagger, Lazzara danced, pranced and delighted -- twirling his microphone relentlessly with Daltrey-like skill as he led his platinum-selling troupe through a high-energy, hour-long set that zinged from start to finish.
Completing the band's cast of "usual suspects" was founding guitarist Eddie Reyes, bassist Shaun Cooper, guitarist John Nolan and drummer Mark O'Connell. And in short order, the classic TBS line-up sliced and served savory selections from their latest record, Happiness Is -- including the show-opening "Stood a Chance," "Beat Up Car," "Better Homes and Gardens" and the current YouTube-trending "Flicker, Fade." Aiming to please longtime fans, the set also offered a smorgasbord of such much-loved gems as "You're So Last Summer" from the 2002 record Tell All Your Friends, "Number Five With a Bullet" and "A Decade Under the Influence" from Where You Want To Be and 2006's "What it Feels Like to be a Ghost."
To some, the four-act package seemed rather mismatched -- as if the Taking Back Sunday/Tonight Alive tour bus had collided on the Interstate with the Used/Sleepwave tour bus, and rather than calling AAA for assistance, they opted merely all to pile into one rented stretch van and complete the outing together. However, for most, the musical marriage made for a logical union, and a satisfying experience was had by all.