A special homecoming show to celebrate the band’s return to New York after a few lengthy 2009 tours, Bayside and their friends in other New York bands performed at Irving Plaza on a cool Thursday night in the East Village.
Hailing from Huntington Station, New York, Bridge and Tunnel opened the evening. With a solid foundation in Latterman drummer Pat Schramm, the band executes fairly well on stage, with alternating vocals from guitarist Jeff Cunningham and bassist Tia Meilinger. The four-piece, rounded out by guitarist Rachel Rubino, plays in the style of Hot Water Music and Small Brown Bike, yet offers a New York approach to the music. A brief but strong performance encouraged me to check out their debut, East/West, on No Idea Records.
One has to wonder how long I Am the Avalanche will tour on their sole full-length, their 2005 debut on Drive-Thru Records. Masterminded by The Movielife’s Vinnie Caruana, the quintet plays a unique blend of punk, but has been playing the same songs for quite some time now. A few new songs helped spice the set up, though, including “Holy Fuck”–a jam that sounds right at home in Caruana collection. Another new song, “Brooklyn Dodgers”, was a playful addition to the set. I Am the Avalanche received a warm welcome from their hometown crowd, and the band sounded on-point, with great performances of old favorites “Dead and Gone”, “New Disaster”, “I Took a Beating”, “Green Eyes”, and “This is Dungeon Music”.
Envy on the Coast provided Bayside’s direct support, opening with an exciting cover of “House of the Rising Sun”. Vocalist Ryan Hunter provided an unique take on The Animals classic, retooling Eric Burdon’s vocal style to fit his own jagged falsetto delivery. Lead by the dual assault of guitarists Sal Bossio and Brian Byrne, a solid performance of “Sugar Skulls” followed, with the band tossing in some new material (“The Devil’s Tongue”) in addition to a partial cover of Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind”.
Jeremy Velardi’s luscious basslines kept things interesting on older tracks like “Temper Temper”, and interim drummer Joe Zizzo (of The Sleeping) is no slouch on the skins, adequately filling the role while the band works on finding a permanent replacement for Dan Gluszak. The rousing “The Gift of Paralysis”, from the band’s debut and only full-length, Lucy Gray, closed the Long Island six-piece’s set to a roar of applause. The full set:
House of the Rising Sun (The Animals cover)
The Devil’s Tongue
Artist and Repertoire
Empire State of Mind (Jay-Z cover)
The Gift of Paralysis
Beginning with “Tortures of the Damned”, Bayside came out firing. “I’ve made mistakes, but I’ll find my way; there’s no explanation for the things I’ve failed at before,” laments guitarist and frontman Anthony Raneri during the song’s explosive chorus. The similarly loathing “The Walking Wounded” followed, with Raneri’s opening lines: “I’m weak like a one-armed boxer, throwing punch after punch after punch. I give in, I’m so dumb, I’m surprised when they duck”.
Indeed, Bayside’s appeal derives from their dark and contemplative lyricism. The aptly titled “No One Understands” digs even deeper into Raneri’s pain: “My mom always said I was named for a saint, but I never felt I was blessed”; “Blame it On Bad Luck” isn’t any brighter.
Bassist Nick Ghanbarian and guitarist Jack O’Shea exploded on the Shudder‘s “Boy” and “Roshambo (Rock, Paper, Scissors)”. The lone Sirens and Condolences cut, “Masterpiece”, was rowdy and kept the crowd moving following a solid performance of 2005′s “Carry On”. “Existing In A Crisis (Evelyn)” preceded a staple cover of The Smoking Pope’s “Megan”, which found the everyone in attendance singing along to its beautiful chorus. “The Ghost of St. Valentine”, just the fourth (and unfortunately final) song from Shudder, was excellent and is easily one of the band’s best songs. An excellent performance of the invigorating “Montauk” closed the band’s scheduled set, leaving the audience to shout for more.
“Don’t Call Me Peanut” started the encore slowly, but with queues from drummer Chris Guglielmo it got loud in a hurry. “I and I” found the crowd with arms around each others shoulders singing along, a necessary moment of unity before the one-two knockout punch of “Hello Shitty” and “Devotion and Desire” tore the audience into pieces. The full set:
Tortures of the Damned
The Walking Wounded
No One Understands
Blame it on Bad Luck
They’re Not Unicorns, They’re Horses
Roshambo (Rock, Paper, Scissors)
Existing in a Crisis (Evelyn)
Megan (The Smoking Popes cover)
Landing Feet First
The Ghost of St. Valentine
Don’t Call Me Peanut
I and I
Devotion and Desire
With more than one-third of the set favoring their 2005 self-titled effort across an eighty minute performance that touched on each of the band’s releases (including six songs from the The Walking Wounded), Bayside was explosive, passionate, and fairly unpredictable–even if the band did choose the completely standard “Devotion and Desire” as the night’s final song. A potent combination of well-written tortures on top of lick after lick of racing riffs, the band’s performance might have been the best of their near-decade long career. Bayside’s homecoming ended with a bang, and the band hits the road just a week later with a plethora of great acts including the legendary The Bouncing Souls.
Photos courtsey of Ali Szubiak and Devyn Manibo
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