Taking Back Sunday make epic return home The Paramount Huntington, NY 3-24-15 w/ letlive. & The Menzingers

taking back slide - Taking Back Sunday make epic return home The Paramount Huntington, NY 3-24-15 w/ letlive. & The Menzingers

Taking Back Sunday make epic return home The Paramount Huntington, NY 3-24-15 w/ letlive. & The Menzingers

There is an old saying that there is no place like home. For Taking Back Sunday, home has always been Long Island, New York from their early days coming up on the scene. That is why no matter how big the band becomes they always make an effort to stop home during touring cycles, and even for special one-off  intimate acoustic shows such as the one at Revolution Bar & Music Hall on April 14, 2014. Continuing their touring for their sixth studio album, Happiness Is, the band’s Spring fling with Los Angeles, California’s post-hardcore band Letlive and Scranton, Pennsylvania Punk act The Menzingers kicked off February 18th. Spending time along the West Coast, hoping Winter would finally break, Tuesday March 24th found Taking Back Sunday at The Paramount in Huntington, New York. Prior to this show, Taking Back Sunday had not played The Paramount since 2013, and fans were eager for the show to get underway.

Opening act Letlive offered up an energetic performance that further livened up the crowd. The five-piece, formed in 2002, currently features vocalist Jason Aalon Butler, guitarists Jeff Sahyoun and Kenji Chan (the latter of whom has replaced Jean Nascimento who left the band in February), bassist Ryan Jay Johnson, and drummer Loniel Robinson. Spending a lot of time on the road, spreading the word and building a strong name, the band’s 2013 album, The Blackest Beautiful, received universal praise from critics.

Before beginning the set, Butler entered the stage and paced back and forth as he surveyed the crowd, generating energy and anticipation with every step. Robinson then smacked the kit forcefully to begin “The Dope Beat” as Butler began to jump and thrash about to the rhythm with abandon, bumping into speakers and bandmates. His physicality on stage makes his passion for the music apparent, and his enthusiasm is infectious. During “That Fear Fever,” he brought that energy closer to the crowd, jumping into the photo pit and into the crowd, many of whom were singing and screaming every lyric right along with him. Butler said, “I want to make the most badass circle pit that anyone has ever seen here,” and there he sat in the center of this whirling frenzy, screaming his heart out. Later in the set, Butler also engaged the audience members in the VIP section, climbing the scaffolding to get close to them, dangling from a banister, and not missing a beat as he continued to sing. With Butler’s constant — sometimes dangerous — efforts to connect with the crowd on a physical level, it was clear that Letlive enjoy being on stage and love their audience. Both fans and first-timers were awed by the performance of these unpredictable, energetic, and dedicated musicians. Now they will partake in an opening spot for Killswitch Engage and Rise Against in the coming months, dubbing it one of the most talked about summer tours.

Next on tap for the evening was The Menzingers. A band who has built an impressive following since their formation back in 2006, their Indie-Punk sound was just the right balance in the middle of the billed acts. As a straightforward four-piece, Greg Barnett, as well as Tom May, both vocals/guitars, Eric Keen on bass, along with Joe Godino on drums were ready to have some fun with the Long Islanders.

The Menzingers took the stage with smiles on their faces, clearly happy to be there, but expressing their pleasure in a more subdued manner. The crowd was receptive to them regardless of their relaxed approach, and they played hit after hit from their four-album catalogue, including tracks from their latest, Rented World. Whether it be tracks like “I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore,” “Good Things,” “The Obituaries,” or set closer  “In Remission,” the band had everyone enjoying each moment of the lively set. The Menzingers demonstrated expert musicianship, and their sound was crisp and accessible, making it clear why their popularity has spread far and wide. These talented musicians will be touring all summer, concluding their journey at the acclaimed Leeds Festival in England.

Soon, the lights went down on the waiting crowd to announce the arrival of Taking Back Sunday. While the band had just played Best Buy Theater in Manhattan a few days early, this was different; this was just a few miles north of where the band began in Amityville. Releasing their anxious energy, screams filled the venue as the band kicked things off with newer track “Preface.” Frontman Adam Lazzara appeared under blue flood lights and offered a quick smile before launching into “Flicker, Fade.” The crowd erupted in singing along and continued to do so throughout the entirety of the performance.

With the band’s classic lineup restored, Lazzara was joined onstage by Eddie Reyes and John Nolan on guitars, Mark O’Connell on drums, and Shaun Cooper on bass. All five members were clearly having a blast as they powered through their impressive twenty-two song set, and they appeared to be especially relaxed in their home-town environment. Lazzara would occasionally stroll from one end of the stage to the other, casually swinging his microphone, while the crowd followed his every move. Some audience members were still, engrossed in the music, while others danced as the band played hits including “Liar (It Takes One to Know One),” “A Decade Under the Influence,” and “MakeDamnSure,” among many others.

Long Island and Taking Back Sunday clearly have an affection for one another that has not worn off over the years. The band’s connection with their friends and family is so deep that The Paramount’s size seemed to become a setting much more intimate and cozy where everyone felt at home. Balancing their hits with other fan-favorites, their extensive performance was perfect from start to finish. The overall atmosphere, the band’s performance, and the crowd’s reaction underscored the uplifting sentiment expressed in the title of their latest album, and for Taking Back Sunday, it looks like happiness is playing a show in the place where they started their career, and with the guys they started it with.

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Meghan Ritter
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