I arrived to the House of Blues in San Diego slightly nauseated and feeling sick. It was either the tail end of food poisoning or the stomach flu – either way, I hadn’t eaten in two days and I couldn’t stand thinking about food. But I also couldn’t stand the thought of missing the Involuntary Movement Tour. So I toughed it out and got up to the front for one of the best tours ever.
First up was a band called School Yard Heroes. Their sound was unique but also somewhat familiar. It had a vague No Doubt-y feel to it, but was a little darker pop rock. The singer seemed to have channeled all of the Amanda Palmer (of the Dresden Dolls) that she could manage, running out on stage in black, torn up fishnets and a cut up black dress that looked like it was a ball gown before someone hacked at it with a pair of scissors. The energy on stage, from the band, was mediocre. The guitar player attempted to engage the crowd by pointing a few times, and lead singer tried her best to serenade a few people in the front row. Their song arsenal was full of drum heavy songs like “Cemetary Girl,” which was, as the lead singer said, a song about the end of the world, when women rise and take over. They closed their set after four songs – they had failed really to catch my interest enough to buy a CD or visit their merch table. You may, however, become a fan if you are into the whole horror-pop, macabre genre.
The next band on was The Status, a four piece pop outfit from Atlanta, Georgia. When these four boys came on stage, I had to giggle a little on the inside. They are the same kind of essential pop punk, fun music that I love as a little guilty pleasure, when I get tired of sounding elitist and listening to indie music. This wonder band was brought into the scene by Bayside’s Anthony Raneri, and has also garnered the attention and support of Taking Back Sunday’s Adam Lazzarra. Their set was full of energetic, pop punk – something you just might want to jump around to. The messages of their songs were all positive, about growth and change, about never giving up on your dreams. In the middle of the set, they played their single, “So This Is Progress,” which features Anthony from Bayside – he came out during his part in the second verse and the crowd went crazy. The band played one more song and then bid the crowd farewell. I have to admit that their sound is very generic, and nothing I’ve never heard before, but something about them made me want to buy their CD – they were gracious on stage, thanking the crowd at every chance, smiling during songs and doing their best to engage the crowd, and that’s what impressed me most.
The third band was a personal favorite of mine – Valencia. It was hard to come at this set objectively because I love them so much! It seemed like a good portion of the crowd was there in support of this band too, judging from the roar when they ran on stage, one by one to some “introduction” music. After that, the set was strictly Valencia energy. Frontman Shane Henderson runs around on stage, shaking his head and belting out lyrics like nobody’s business. Guitarists JD Perry and Brendan Walters always do their best to pump up the crowd and interact, and bassist George C (I won’t torture you with his last name) leaned into the crowd frequently to sing along in the faces of fans. They played songs from the new album, like “All At Once,” “Holiday,” and “Where Did You Go,” as well as old jams like “The Space Between” and “Three Thousand Miles.” As always, their set was full of energy and emotion – these five guys really leave everything out on the stage when they perform.
The fourth band was the highly anticipated band The Matches. This was the first time that I was going to see this band with their newest bassist. They kicked off their set with “Their City,” and the crowd was privy to lead singer Shawn’s somewhat eerie movements on stage, as well as guitarist Jon’s spastic, yet still entertaining dance moves. After that, they played other tracks like “Point Me Toward the Morning,” and “We Are One,” always with their quirky energy that leaves you thinking, “What drugs are they on?” They closed their set with “Papercut Skin,” as they usually do. Overall, their set was good – this band has amazing stage chemistry. Something about their weirdness just works.
The last band was, of course, Bayside. The crowd went nuts when they took the stage. I was a bit weary, because I had heard on their previous headlining tour that they played a very short set – if they were to do that this night, it would have surely incited a riot. But not to fear – the band ended up playing nineteen songs and left the crowd pleased. They opened up with “Boy,” and covered all of their popular songs including “The Walking Wounded,” “Carry On,” and “Duality.” The crowd was full of energy and the band seemed to be feeding off of this – Anthony jumped around on stage when he wasn’t glued to his mic and Jack and Nick, the guitarist and bassist, respectively, did their part to “rock out” as well. I really enjoyed their set – but from afar, because the crowd was wildly jumping around and my fragile stomach just couldn’t handle it that night. The band closed with “Devotion and Desire,” and then left the stage leaving the crowd sweaty, tired, and satisfied.