Reliving teen angst with Say Anything in St. Louis

Say Anything, one of the early 2000s pop punk bands that had my pre-teen years in a vice grip, recently toured in celebration of the 20-year anniversary of their second studio album …Is A Real Boy. As has been the trend with many emo and indie bands with albums reaching decade-long milestones, the band played the album from front to back in its entirety.

They graciously welcomed me to shoot their stop in St. Louis at the Pageant in The Loop.

The last time I saw Say Anything perform was all the way back in 2010. Back then, I was 17 years old and couldn’t buy the tickets myself… plus, it was sold out. So a friend and I had to win a radio station giveaway by finding a hidden item downtown and then volunteer for four hours at a homeless shelter in order to secure our tickets. I remember the show back then being a scream-a-long, accompanied by some of the most angsty moshing I’ve ever experienced to this day. Now, almost 15 years later, not only could I buy my own ticket, but I didn’t even have to because I was shooting the show and writing this review. Not only that, but I was guaranteed a spot in the front row AND got to take photos of the whole thing. Needless to say, the 17-year-old me was psyched.

This time around, the show began with a band called Greet Death: a younger crew who defiantly served up their slow plodding flavor of rock for the packed house at The Pageant. Smiles broke out several times during the show as they jammed out. They even tossed the crowd a blink-182 cover just to get the vocal cords nice and warmed up for the bands to follow.

The next was AJJ, a folk punk band from Phoenix.

I was not familiar with them before the show, but was quickly impressed by their energy. The lead singer belted out his lyrics with a franticness that reminded me a lot of mewithoutyou. After a lively set that served to work the crowd up, they handed the stage over to Say Anything.

Say Anything’s set was a raucous affair. The audience was in for a treat as the band performed their most well-known album. Song by song went by and not a word passed without the crowd whole-heartedly belting back the lyrics. Lead singer Max Bemis controlled the stage and went through track after track with snarky, cynical catharsis. Between vape hits, his angsty performance sounded just as good as he did a decade and a half ago. Back then, I had been to maybe three concerts; I didn’t really understand just how special seeing a band put on an amazing performance was or how much live music would have an impact on my life… I just liked getting sweaty and jumping around with my friends, screaming the words to my favorite songs. Admittedly, I still love doing those things and Say Anything is the perfect excuse to do so. Welcome back Say Anything and congratulations on two decades of allowing us all to rock out!

Photography by Sean Rider

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