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Review: Say Anything, Eisley lead a revival of rock at the State Theatre in St. Petersburg



St. Petersburg loves their Say Anything, and they proved it Tuesday night with a sold-out show at State Theater.

“Thanks for the warm welcome, literally,” singer Max Bemis joked. “God, it’s hot!”

He was almost unrecognizable with his Guy Fieri-esque bleach-blond hair. But what really stood out was the amount of love this city has for him and his music.

During the Rarities and More Tour, the band’s set consisted half of songs that came out before Say Anything’s 2004 album ...Is A Real Boy and half of songs from released records.

Support for this tour included the pop band Eisley. A Say Anything and Eisley tour is literally a family affair, as Eisley is made up of four siblings and their cousin, not to mention that Eisley lead singer Sherri DuPree-Bemis is married to Max Bemis. Good looks, sense of humor, and musical abilities? Some people just have all the good genes. The two lovebirds also have a side project called Perma, and plan to release their debut album sometime in 2013. But on Tuesday, the State Theater begged for Say Anything classics, and that’s what they got.

However, before Say Anything took the stage, Eisley played a couple of tunes for the anxious crowd. The indie rock group from Tyler, Texas brings fairy tales to life through their whimsical music, full of angelic harmonies and magically melodic chord progressions. Their songs tell stories that could be made into enchanted children’s books, but also cross over into the realm of romance and relatable life lessons.

Eisley has grown up alongside their from-the-start fans. Since 2004, their music has evolved from reflecting the lighthearted innocence of a child to the harsh realities of adulthood. They started with the title track to their new album, Currents. As on most of their songs, the vocals take center stage and hypnotize the audience; the harmonies actually feel like they are casting a spell. Next they played Sad, another new one. Oddly enough, this song sounds happier then most of their other songs. The temp is quicker and the melody is more simplistic and in the major keys. They only sang one oldie, Golly Sandra, off their first album. Unfortunately the entire set was very guitar- and drum-heavy, and the vocals were hard to hear. But when they could be heard, I got goosebumps — and it was really hot in there.

As soon as Say Anything took the stage, the vibe completely changed. Everyone had their hands in the air, some holding up phones and some clapping to the beat. They started off their set with Colorblind, a song that starts off very lyric- and vocal-heavy. Next they delved into The Futile, Do Better, Crushed and Try to Remember, Forget. Each song built the audience’s excitement.

Next they played Cemetery, a song that shows a darker lyrical side: “There’s a cemetery deep below the sea / There the space is reserved for fools like me / Tried to kill myself at least a dozen times / But nothing seemed to turn out right.” Sherri came out to join her husband and they sang together. Their voices compliment each other so much — his deep, raspy vocal sound mixed with her sweet, innocent, scale-topping voice. The combination makes the song feel that much more powerful.

The band continued to play songs old and new, and no matter what song it was, the audience knew every single word. At one point Bemis asked, “Did you guys get together and have a 500 person study group or something?”

As the show wound down, Bemis and his band were sweating and looked exhausted. The Florida heat is something that can easily take it out of you, especially if you’re not from around here. Sure, L.A. heat is bad, but nothing like the humid nights in St. Pete. But they didn’t let that come between them and a kick-ass show.

The band plunged into a familiar drum beat that brought the audience to a new level. Bemis was our conductor, raising his arms with each changing note as the room erupted into dance. The three guitarists jammed their hearts out while Bemis gave out high fives to his fans. The song ended, and the band bowed. The crowd shouted for more. And after minutes of yelling “one more song,” Bemis reappeared with an acoustic guitar. He serenaded us with I Wanna Know Your Plans, a beautifully written love song that brought couples close and made the crowd sway back and fourth, lighters held high. At one point, Max stopped singing to let us take over again, and he looked like he might cry.

The band came back on for a final song, A Walk Through Hell. Not one person moved until the last note rung out. Even after that, more than half of the audience just clapped and yelled for five minutes after the band left the stage. St. Petersburg definitely loves Say Anything, and after that show, I have a feeling that Say Anything will never forget St. Petersburg.

— Kate Cillian, tbt*

[Last modified: Thursday, June 13, 2013 1:32pm]


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