Say Anything @ Byline Bank Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, US, May 17, 2024 | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, June 25th, 2024  

Say Anything

Say Anything @ Byline Bank Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, US, May 17, 2024,

May 21, 2024 Photography by Kyle Ruffer Web Exclusive
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When Say Anything released …Is A Real Boy in 2004, sole singer and songwriter Max Bemis gloriously basked in his neurotic melodrama. The group, who were initially based in Los Angeles, managed to continuously string together crunchy guitar chords and tumultuous percussion to match Bemis’ lyricism to create one of the most notable pop-punk albums of the 2000s.

Over the course of his career, Bemis was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, spent time in a psychiatric ward, put out a few albums, got married, had five kids, teased the band’s retirement then released another album with Say Anything. The new project, ...Is Committed, drops May 24 and feels like unprecedented territory for the 40-year-old musician.

“[‘...Is Committed’] is a meta-comment on what a Say Anything record should sound like,” Bemis explained in an interview last month. “The band broke up, got back together, and what always happens with emo bands when they break up and get back together is they make a reunion record. It’s either really different–they’re trying to be Radiohead–or it’s a return to form so it sounds like their first few records.”

While ...Is Committed features Bemis sharing some of his more recent life experiences in stringent–and sometimes wildly uncomfortable–detail, the 20 year anniversary tour of ...Is a Real Boy has allowed Say Anything fans to relive the magic of their debut album. Written by Bemis when he was just 19, the group performed it from start to finish this past Friday (May 17) at Chicago’s Byline Bank Aragon Ballroom.

Bemis and the group opened with the track “Belt” and set the tone for the evening with their raucous energy and sheer excitement. The dejection of “Woe” translated to resilience onstage while “Alive With The Glory of Love” predictably made for the ultimate sing-along moment. Things slowed down a bit with “Yellow Cat (Slash) Red Cat,” but picked up again with “Spidersong” and “The Futile.”

For “Every Man Has a Molly,” Bemis’ lyrical lack of self-restraint (“Molly Connolly just broke up with me over the revealing nature of the songs…. I won’t ever have rough sex with Molly Connolly again”) still reverberates with the masses and was a distinct highlight of the night. It was followed by “Slowly, Through a Vector” and “Chia-Like, I Shall Grow.”

Of course, they performed the controversial “Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too” before Bemis insisted that the band wouldn’t come back for an encore. He returned shortly to the stage to give an acoustic solo rendition of “I Want To Know Your Plans.” For the last song, every member of Say Anything reemerged to perform “Admit It!!!” The show flew by in an instant, with attendees feeling full from the reverie the timeless records provide.


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