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Say Anything pleases fans at the Cat’s Cradle

by Heather MacIntyre

Everyone looks nervously around at each other, walking, now running, to the doors of Cat’s Cradle (catscradle.com).

“Have we missed it? I don’t understand. How can Say Anything already be playing?” I hear someone anxiously ask their neighbor while approaching the sound limit of the venue. Impatient to get inside, I slip by the confused crowd and hear what sounds to me, at only 6 o’clock, like the headlining band. Fans rush to the door almost knocking each other in, afraid that their mosey-in fashionably late arrival has caused them to miss one of their favorite gigs. Agitated, I peer around the corner to the stage and walk in to study what could be, but shouldn’t be, the band that would be playing four hours later. To everyone’s relief, it’s not.

The entire show has a single-performance sound. Opening the night with what appears to be a group of Jay and Silent Bob fans, San Diego’s Weatherbox (weatherboxmusic.com) has everyone just as confused as we were. They share the same tough-and-rough vocals, quick talk, sing-yell-sing rhyming lyrics and catchy guitar riffs that the three remaining bands also possess, including the most popular guests of the evening, Say Anything (myspace.com/sayanything). What sets Weatherbox apart is their deeper obsession for pronouncing consonant sounds with each word, and placing the vowels on a fence as they stand next to it and shake the tones back and forth until they fall off into the ending consonant.

What a great idea – if most of your tickets are being sold because of the headliner, why not book a bunch of bands to pad their music style for the tour so that fans can get more of what they came for? I hope this wasn’t what they were thinking. There is little diversity because of this line-up, which makes it hard to differentiate between some of the performances. No matter how brilliant a song may be, if you have been listening to something that sounds similar to it for the last few hours, it’s not easy to enjoy. This show could be better. This is saying a lot, because individually, I think each of the bands are great performers, and talented musicians. But a police line-up of the front men at the station would leave anyone scratching their heads.

I stand in the next room for a minute talking with friends before I notice a sexy Scottish accent doing soundcheck for the mics. The crowd laughs and jokes as the bearded lead singer and drummer (who happen to be twin brothers) of Biffy Clyro (biffyclyro.com) try to pronounce words like Americans do. All the way from Glasgow, they own the title as the most “rock” version of the four similar performers. I unhesitatingly suggest checking out their most recent recording, Puzzle, which came out on 14th Floor Records last year.

Following Biffy is the band I am most interested in seeing for the first time, Manchester Orchestra (themanchesterorchestra.com). There performance is a little disappointing. I can tell that they are trying to mold their live style to the other bands that they normally (album-wise at least) sound nothing like. Fading in and out from their normal eerie placebo-like vocals to tonight’s rough yells, normally it would sound like passionate outbreaks, but it really catches me as them not wanting to be the odd band out on the dock. Again, please don’t let this prevent you from enjoying their newest album, Like A Virgin Losing A Child, which comes highly recommended.

Finally, the crowds from the three previous performances gather into the main room for Say Anything. This is basically Weatherbox, but with more money, more time behind them for building a fanbase and more stylish haircuts. They weave some old popular songs in their set consisting of mostly their new (rather unpopular) album. All of their old hits will probably remain their only hits from here on out. It’s obvious to most of their fans that they’ve possibly passed the climax of their career. It wasn’t all bad: Their live show is enjoyable, and everyone sways and sings along to “Walk Through Hell”, myself included. For the most part, I get the vibe that fans enjoy the show overall. Their lyrics are smart and beautifully written. But it leaves me with a rather unfortunate and unexpected view: Almost any band can say it like Say Anything.

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