Say Anything, Hellogoodbye
Congress Theatre, Chicago
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Say Anything are not pop punk. At least, not entirely (contrary to popular belief, and even some evidence that would suggest otherwise). If there was ever any doubt before, it was made abundantly clear Wednesday night at the Congress, where the six-piece live outfit, more than anything, thrashed through their co-headlining set following the otherwise, and especially uninspired, Hellogoodbye.
Wednesday found Say Anything in town in support of their ambitious new double album, In Defense Of The Genre (J). Though, perhaps due to the record only (officially) being out two days as of the show, the group’s setlist veered predominantly towards their hailed breakthrough effort, Is A Real Boy (Doghouse).
Since that record’s release, Say Anything have established a respectable following, which, in turn, has strengthened the outfit’s onstage presence. It was the newfound energy that propelled the group past routine pop punk territory, instead giving way to an energized, untethered, and assuredly authoritative live performance.
Such was the case with the frenzied “Baby Girl I’m A Blur,” a prime example of Say Anything’s instantaneous full-on attack that is over almost as soon as it begins. It’s an approach that carried over to the anthemic “Every Man Has A Molly,” which, alongside “Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too,” exemplified lyricist and frontman Max Bemis’ ability to craft clever novelty-esque pop without coming off inane or overly-jokey.
The night’s greatest accomplishments, however, came during moments like the subtly sorrowful “Spidersong” and the tense, seemingly suspended “Yellow Cat/Red Cat.” Serving as respites from the predominantly upbeat tone, the songs allowed slivers of introspection to slip in amongst the thrash-heavy aesthetic without clashing against the vibe the band strove for all evening.
As the group’s brief-seeming hour-long set came to an end, it was perhaps “Little Girls,” the evening’s closer, that best exemplified the Say Anything model heading into 2008. A snarky blitzkrieg assault at full throttle killing the audience with hooks and harmonies, courtesy of a frenzied melody machine striving for more than just a quick and quickly thought-out set. All of which was all the more apparent coming off the heels of a group like Hellogoodbye, who redefined the term “inconsequential.” Witnessing such a group so clearly comfortable with being complacent, it made it that much easier to appreciate an outfit taking the opposite approach. Though it was hardly a surprise, rather than taking the easy way out all night, Say Anything instead would just make what they do look easy.
Then again, for them, maybe it is.
— Jaime de’Medici