Say Anything Hosts An (Emo)tional First Night Of Their Residency At The Regent In Los Angeles
Kayla Moreno (and 1 other) ⋅ Oct 26, 2023
Live music is one of the most universally connective experiences out there. People are packed inside a space of like-minded individuals who have gone through similar things that made an artist's work resonate enough to spend around $40 (plus Ticketmaster fees) on a ticket. You make friends in line, or standing around general admission, and thus the cycle repeats. Some bands have held the power to keep this wholesome circle going for decades, much like Say Anything, who have been heavy hitters in the scene since the early 2000s. Their return to the stage is a comfort for many and a welcome sight to all who attended the first night of their residency at The Regent in Los Angeles.
The Color Fred opened the show, and he was a familiar face; you may know Fred Mascherino as one of the two lead singers in Taking Back Sunday. His spirit has never wavered, commanding the crowd with his honest, vulnerable acoustic set. Mascherino has memorable energy and an unforgettable sound. If you grew up in the 2000s, his voice is instantly recognizable. Artists like Mascherino have an advantage where they can trust that crowds will know their most famous work, so he hosted a fun singalong to Taking Back Sunday's greatest hits. It was a wonderful way to get the energy going before transitioning to the second opening act. Mascherino later took the stage again as a guitarist for the headliner.
Next up was a newer, emerging act called Footballhead, who came all the way from Chicago for this gig. Their previously released debut album Overthinking Everything was recently removed from streaming services (to be replaced "under much better circumstances," according to frontman Ryan Nolen) but that didn't stop them from playing the energetic, upbeat, and topical songs from the record. The group is evidently tight-knit with an honest chemistry that shines throughout their performance. Originally a solo effort, inclusion of several other bandmates makes Footballhead a captivating live set. Their individual dynamics play well together onstage, just as they translated in the studio recordings. They shouted out their friends from Chicago who flew out to support them, and their friends from Southern California who made a much shorter commute to do the same. Hopefully, Footballhead can save up some airline miles and return for a headlining gig – because their potential greatly outweighs the 30-or-so-minute slot they were granted as openers.
Finally, as the main act hit the stage, the crowd roared with anticipation. Say Anything began their set promptly at 9 PM, exactly as scheduled. Their set began with "Belt" from their breakout album ...Is A Real Boy, giving fans a wave of nostalgia with those unforgettable opening notes. Max Bemis is one to watch; his charismatic showmanship has captivated fans for over two decades, and after catching my first Say Anything set, I definitely understand why. As a poet at his core, he has written a body of work that resonated with several generations of people. The audience didn't miss a beat, often filling in for Bemis when prompted (myself included). Being with a room full of people as they experience the songs that helped shape who they are in a live setting – either for the first time or for the first time in a while – is the reason all of us are here. He also mentioned that his mother was in the audience, just a few rows ahead of me, emphasizing the sense of safety and warmth in the community he has established.
I'm a big fan of artists who showcase their vulnerability earnestly, and that's something Bemis has done since Say Anything's conception. His army of fans was certainly earned; the topics Bemis has written about are so personal that audience members around me described him as a guiding light in dark, lonely moments. You can see this as Bemis puts on a show, while still remaining true to himself. It appears to me that the stage is where Bemis gets to let it all out, so to speak, and the audience's receptivity helps push him through it. I was thoroughly impressed by the way he commanded the stage while singing about such deeply personal topics, even if some of the songs were written 20 years ago. You can tell that he still feels every word in his vast, profound catalog of work. He further instilled his point by talking openly about his mental health, past and present, in between songs. All in all, Max Bemis is a real champion.
PHOTOS BY ANASTASIA WHITE
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