Beneficial charity tours. Tours that allow you to have fun while also allowing your gut to fill with accomplishment knowing that your hard-earned show money is going towards a better cause. Take Action is an organization that raises awareness towards a number of different problems in our world and one of the tactics they use is in the form of a two month long North American tour aptly titled the Take Action Tour. This year, the proceeds went toward benefiting Sex Etc. which helps raise awareness in teens about safe sex (and, to put it lightly, the yucky results of unsafe sex). This year, the tour was to be co-headlined by former Victory Records label mates, Silverstein and Bayside, with support from punk rockers Polar Bear Club, Michigan natives (and my hometown heroes) The Swellers and up-and-coming August Burn Red siblings, Texas In July. It was my first time witnessing every band on the bill, so I didn’t know what the night had in store for me.
As I emerged inside from the sheets of rain, it did not take long for Texas In July to hit the stage. One word describes their performance that night, and that word is “messy.” From forced breakdown after breakdown, repeated boring stage antics for nearly every song, and the completely incomprehensible words of Alex Good, Texas In July was a howling, metal hair-flipping conglomeration of bore.
Luckily, The Swellers made their grand appearance next and their performance was a doozy. Performing for their home state crowd, The Swellers busted out song after song with immediate positive crowd response as they tackled a set list compiled mainly of songs from their latest full-length, Ups and Downsizing. The vocal harmonization between brothers Nick (guitar) and Jonathan (drums) Diener was impressive while the guitar of Ryan Collins soared high and the speedy stick work of Diener shined through from the back of the stage. It’s safe to say The Swellers are a talented band with a decked out live set.
Next on the bill was Polar Bear Club. Now I was not too familiar with these guys before I saw their set, but I can honestly say I am a huge fan now. Even though frontman Jimmy Stadt has a vocal array that any tough guy would envy, the truth is he’s a rather small fellow and a bit of a dorky looking guy as well. But when it comes to dorky frontmen, they always know how to entertain a crowd. Stadt’s cooky stage antics were some of the highlights of the night and enticed me to listen to the band in depth. Polar Bear Club is a classic case of a band that makes great music and would rather do nothing but play that music for their crazy fans night in and night out.
Finally it was time for the first headliner of the night. After a slight wait, the lights dimmed and the air filled with what seemed to be a slow techno beat backed by the familiar riff of Bayside’s “Already Gone,” only the riff was completely synthesized. All of a sudden, as expected, the lights popped on and Bayside jumped into the first song off of their 2011 release Killing Time. It’s hard to put this into words, but let’s just say that most of the crowd was very VERY familiar with these Brooklyn-based gentlemen. The stage presence of each individual was staggering, leaving the tiresome set of Texas In July to be nothing but a distant, feint nightmare. Playing a very concentrated set list, Bayside mainly focused on their latest effort and 2007’s The Walking Wounded. Bayside entertained and amazed the crowd, highlighting their set with the fist-pumping chants of “Sick, Sick, Sick” and the sing-along acoustic “Don’t Call Me Peanut” performed mostly by vocalist Anthony Raneri alone; nothing but him and his guitar to please the crowd. Ending with oldie “Devotion and Desire,” Bayside was done and it was time for the next headliner to take the stage.
As soon as Silverstein crashed the stage with “Vices,” it was clear to see that the majority of the crowd was there for Bayside, even though they weren’t playing last. There was less energy and more silence for these Canadians, but this is not to say that the crowd involvement for Silverstein adhered the overall enjoyment of the set. Playing a good mix of songs streaming across their vast library, Silverstein had tremendous energy and each member played his instrument exceptionally. The only exception to this though is that of vocalist Shane Told. Told’s vocals, while showing off somewhat of a good range, came off very whiny and nasally, which is a bit of a change from his smooth vocal strategy on the recordings. Though his singing was something less than desirable, Told’s guttural screams were forceful and above all commanding, leaving the moshers breathless as Silverstein concluded their set with the extremely heavy “Bleeds No More.”
All in all, the Take Action tour was a very enjoyable night. Even though I had to put up with a bothersome opener, the rest of the support did exactly what supporting bands should do and the headliners fulfilled exactly what headlining bands should be fulfilling.