Where's The Band? At The Yost Theater Last Night
Yost Theater, Santa Ana
Feb. 7, 2012
Whatever happened to the golden days of emo when the singers on stage were just as weepy and insecure as our high school selves? Stalwarts, such as those who played the second installment of the Where's The Band? tour, apparently are dropping their backing musicians, embarking on solo careers and transforming into legitimate singer songwriters.
The result is ideal for their maturing demographic, but it definitely takes some getting used to. The show brought six band-less frontmen--including Dustin Kensrue (Thrice), Matt Pryor (The Get Up Kids), Chris Conley (Saves the Day), Anthony Raneri (Bayside), Ace Enders (The Early November) and Evan Weiss (Into It. Over It)--to a full house at the newly hosting Yost Theatre, giving each a quick 30-minute set to do with what they choose.
A quick unplug and a handshake sufficed for set changes throughout the night, and once Pryor took his standing position in front of the stage's solitary mic stand, he ripped into "All Eyes," a song from his folk-rock side project The New Amsterdams. In addition to solo songs such as "Confidence Man," which--inspired by a tourmate's backstage comment on his fedora--culminated in a segway into Bruno Mars' portion of "Billionaire," Pryor also took requests for old school Get Up Kids songs. Instead of finishing the set with the ballad "I'll Catch You" as is the norm for his acoustic tours, Pryor instead opted for the upbeat "Better Half," "a love song written a long time ago."
Hometown hottie (yes we just called him that) Dustin Kensrue headlined the night with a diverse set of newer Thrice songs, indie-rock covers and multiple solo numbers about how much he loves and needs his wife. After an evening of failed sing-a-long attempts and emotionless faces from those young folks closest to the stage, Kensrue's bluesy solo songs finally woke up the crowd, getting lips moving and iPhones filming through the last jam of the night--a Tom Waits cover of "Down There By the Train."
Instead of these artists being the unreachable frontmen of our favorite bands as they might have been years ago, the Where's the Band? format strips away the intimidation factor built into traditional audience-performer relationships and presents these guys as real dudes who could just as easily been your buddies having this show in your living room.
The Crowd: Sober couples cuddling with each other and lots of lonely guys wearing either saggy beanies or lowercase "a" Angels hats.
Critic's Bias: I was secretly hoping for a sweaty, intimate, fist-pumping acoustic session like the ones that went down at Chain Reaction circa 2003.
Overheard in the Crowd: "Are you awake? You better get into this shit!"
Random Notebook Dump: Why was someone requesting Limp Bizkit?