05.05.06 @ Avalon, Boston, MA

In the past, a Taking Back Sunday show sounded so god-awful that it had to be judged on the full experience. Crowd bonding, scream-a-longs and mic-swinging theatrics covered up Adam Lazzara’s notoriously off-key caterwauling quite nicely, and as long as a concertgoer didn’t close his or her eyes and listen to the distortion and yelps coming from the speaker, the show was thoroughly enjoyable. But that era appears to be history. On the Boston stop of the band’s first tour in support of Louder Now, Lazzara’s vocals sounded clear and on key. He had a happier, decidedly less emo presence onstage, strutting, swinging and occasionally even smiling. What the hell happened?

Simple- Lazzara and his bandmates grew up.

After four years of scenester drama and broken hearts, Taking Back Sunday have aged from an emo band into a more mature, well-rounded rock band. The Louder Now tour reflected a band that has transitioned smoothly into the mainstream and developed a new focus on musicianship. Old favorites like “Great Romances of the 20th Century” were fine-tuned and turned-up; new songs like “What’s It Feel Like to Be a Ghost” were appropriately focused and played to the band’s strengths. Breakthrough single “A Decade Under the Influence” slowly built up to an exhilarating finale and “Timberwolves At New Jersey” plunged into beautifully orchestrated chaos.

An acoustic, mellowed out intro to “You Know How I Do,” however, wasn’t as well received. The opening track to 2002’s Tell All Your Friends proved to be untouchable, and the crowd released a collective sigh of relief as the band launched into the rousing, angsty anthem the way it’s meant to be played: loudly, authoritatively, and manically.

And while guitarists Fred Mascherino and Eddie Reyes packed a punch and Lazzara even practiced a bit of restraint, it was Matt Rubano’s thundering bass that stole the show. Underutilized on 2004’s Where You Want to Be, the Grammy-winning bassist has emerged as the band’s driving force by adding dimension to tracks like “Liar (It Takes One to Know One).” The crowd couldn’t just hear him play- they could feel it.

As the show came to a close, the crowd surged once more as the familiar chord progression to “Cute Without the ‘E’ (Cut From the Team)” resonated throughout the club. Years after its release, the scene classic still hasn’t lost its edge. Its biting lyrics and seesawing vocals, along with Lazzara’s embittered delivery, maintain the song’s ageless quality. Polished, tightened and yes, louder, the band has become arena-worthy.

Photo by Ashley Megan

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