Remember the last time you had a truly cathartic release at a concert — who was there and what songs you screamed. Nostalgia holds an undeniable power over musical experiences, but it can also become toxic when exploited in the present. In a world of never ending anniversary tour announcements, it’s refreshing to find a band stand out among the rest without the crutch of nostalgia. On August 13th, Taking Back Sunday lit the sold out Crofoot in Pontiac ablaze, setting the standard for early 2000s emo bands still fortunate enough to be playing shows.
Calling Taking Back Sunday an “emo band” in 2017 is a bit of a stretch. Coming off the release of 2016’s incredible record Tidal Wave, the band has proven their ability for constructive change, making a record with an unprecedented rock atmosphere for the band without straying too far from what fans have come to expect of their music. Fully cognizant of their fanbase’s desires, Taking Back Sunday’s setlists actively engage all the eras of their music — frontman Adam Lazzara even took the time to explain the inclusion of “Everything Must Go,” a deep cut from their typically overlooked record New Again.
I’ve now seen Taking Back Sunday both pre- and post-Tidal Wave, and it’s safe to say the new material expertly blends with the old. Where contemporaries have begun to falter (see: literally all of Fall Out Boy’s music post-reunion), the music on Tidal Wave fits perfectly with the rest of their catalogue included in their sets. Opening with the title track and throwing “Death Wolf” in the middle of the performance did nothing to dampen the energy; if anything changed, a marginal amount of people didn’t know all the words to sing along.
Now you find yourself halfway through Taking Back Sunday’s set. You’re out of breath and sweaty, packed like a sardine in the crowd of drunk young adults. None of this should be remotely comfortable, but you just finished dancing your ass off to the rock ‘n’ roll of “Death Wolf” when the band launches into the aching ballad of “You’re So Last Summer.” Without even thinking, you’re screaming, “Boys like you are a dime a dozen!” because that’s the infectious relationship Taking Back Sunday have with their fans.
Adam Lazzara and John Nolan are natural performers. They easily banter with each other, the rest of the band and even audience members. Anecdotes and jokes pass fluidly between songs, except for a long story on how Lazzara used to sing and dance in his kitchen pretending to be Billie Joe Armstrong before performing their toned-down acoustic cover of Green Day’s “She.” By sprinkling nostalgia here and there throughout the night, Taking Back Sunday kept long time fans emotionally engaged without the corniness of living in the past.
It’d be amiss to not mention Taking Back Sunday’s support from All Get Out and Every Time I Die. The former opened the show with their gorgeous and earnest alt-punk tunes, while the later all but destroyed everybody that dared to enter the pit with their violent, high-speed blend of hardcore and metal. With diverse, talented openers (and only two of them thankfully), the show quickly ramped up the energy before Taking Back Sunday even took the stage.
And this is exactly why Taking Back Sunday continues to thrive today. They’ve grown from their roots, branching into a band more beautiful, more diverse than their past without ignoring it. They didn’t miss a beat the entire night, bombarding the crowd with anthem after anthem, old and new. If Taking Back Sunday predicted anything on their first record, it’s that they will always have the mic and the crowd will always have the mosh pit.