Scary Kids Scaring Kids, Straylight Run
Philadelphia, PA • November 1, 2008
After a week-long celebration of its first sports championship in 28 years, Philadelphia decided to take a short break from celebrating long enough to cheer on Anberlin at the Trocadero. The Orlando-based band was back, this time celebrating the release of their new album, Surrender and fans were eager as they waited in line.
After There For Tomorrow played to an empty room, Straylight Run appeared ready to embrace the Philly crowd as a new band. The band recently restructured due to the departure of Michelle, who played piano and sang. The new tracks off of their three-song EP, Un Mas Dos weren’t radically different; however, their stage presence seemed to have a bit of fresh air. The gritty vocals of John Nolan, matched with the spark of intensity that rang from the amps, was just the thing to get the crowd’s attention. Mixing in old favorites like “Existentialism on Prom Night” and “Big Shot (Hands in the Sky)” sparked a nice crowd reaction. John was probably the highlight, bouncing between playing guitar and piano while singing. The set was nearly flawless, the songs flowing into one another seamlessly, with just enough rawness and punch to establish that this new line-up will still deliver for fans.
Scary Kids Scaring Kids was up next, a drastic change from the experimental-indie sounds of Straylight Run. As the band launched into its set, one couldn’t help but be awed. Lead singer, Tyson, climbed on the amps, ran around the stage, all while keeping perfect pitch and timing with piercing shrieks. Keyboardist Pouyan was truly the one to watch, as he seemed overcome by the music. His body flailed around the keyboard with his hair all over the place. At times, it was musical bedlam, but it was the perfect soundtrack for crowd surfers.
Anberlin released Surrender back in September 2008 as the follow-up to the acclaimed Cities. Having spoken with lead singer, Stephen Christian, he talked about the band’s move to Universal Republic Records, as well as recording with Neal Avron and working with a new member of the band. But for all of the changes, Christian had no real negative opinions about them. Instead he talked about the incredible crowds that have welcomed them to their city, night after night. “I didn’t know everyone cared so much,” he said, as the band prepared for a show in Kansas.
Mark Philadelphia as one of the cities that loves Anberlin. The show was sold-out with people outside, desperate for just one more ticket. The line-up was packed with something for everyone — a little indie, a little metal, and a little pop-punk. As Anberlin took the stage, cries of happiness pierced the room. Christian was all over the place, while his vocals were unaffected by all of the jerking movements. He said to expect a lot of older tracks laced in with the new ones and as the tour progresses, more tracks from Surrender will be included. Throughout the hour and a half, Anberlin reminded the audience of why they love the band: an unstoppable stage energy that was a perfect match to the rich flowing vocals, well-crafted lyrics and of course, musical talent that helped compose the experience that the audience knows as Anberlin.
The quintet (whom Christian referred to as his brothers) have reinvented themselves with their new album, while still being able to deliver what the fans expect of Anberlin: no rockstar personas — just five guys getting on stage and playing music that they can get lost in. Whether it’s the opening chords of “The Unwinding Cable Car” or the band’s bodies thrashing to the beat of their latest single, “Feel Good Drag,” the audience hung on every word. Halfway through, Christian decided to take a moment to thank the fans, only to wind up saying that he was happy to be in Boston — a move that was automatically booed. After realizing this mistake, he “redid” his speech, sounding slightly embarrassed by the error and ready to quickly start the next song. Despite the little mishap, fans were forgiving and helped lend vocals to the rest of the tracks.
Over the phone, Christian spoke of his admiration for Anberlin’s fans through the last six years. In “The Resistance,” the first track off of the new album, Christian sings, “… there’s no stopping us now,” which could be the perfect description of Anberlin for 2009 — no surrender in sight.