On Wednesday, June 29th, Kansas City exploded with not just one, but three big ticket shows for summer: Dave Matthews Band, Guns n Roses, and Taste of Chaos tour. Being men of extraordinary taste, we chose the best show of the night: Taste of Chaos!
A sunny June evening greeted a few thousand fans wanting to get a bite of mid 2000s emo nostalgia. On the bill were The Early November, Saosin, Taking Back Sunday, and Dashboard Confessional.
The Crossroads is an interesting venue. An outside venue in summer can either be heaven or hell – either stiffening hot and humid amid the masses of people OR it can be a pleasant outside excursion to see some great music. When we arrived, the sun was blaring down. Eager fans were vying for the best spots in the shade. Being a treeless, open expanse in the back of Grinders West, there wasn’t a ton of shade, save for shadows cast by buildings. We made due, found some shade by the beer stand, and set out time machines for our angst filled teenage years.
The Early November was up first. From the opening chords of Decoration, I could feel myself being transported back to an earlier time in my life, and I don’t think I was alone in this sentiment. The crowd was largely made up of my peers of twenty and thirty somethings. The Early November took us where we were all trying to go – back to driving aimlessly during the summer, jamming out to a mixed CD made from LimeWire. Bands like the Early November where who a lot of us vied to be back then. Anyway, enough reminiscing.
For those not in the know, The Early November is Ace Enders on vocals, Joseph Marro on guitar, “Ultra” Bill Lugg on lead guitar, Sergio Anello on bass, and Jeff Kummer on drums. The Early November has largely kept the original line up releasing their EP For All of This in 2002.
The Early November mixed up the remaining set with both old and new material. In between songs, Ace joked that, yes, we do in fact have new stuff. The new stuff played still had all the heart and soul of their older songs, but with a grown-up attitude and more focus. This was highlighted by the closing song, Narrow Mouth, off of their 2015 release Imbue.
The night got a little heavier with the next act Saosin. The setting sun and lack of shade did not deter the growing crowd from getting up close to the stage. It also helped that Saosin was introduced with the theme of Game of Thrones.
Racing Toward a Red Light energetically started off the set. The opening drums made me believe that drummer Alex Rodriguez may be part octopus. Anthony Green really showed his appreciation on stage in both his energy and appreciation. Stage antics also played heavily into the set – at one point, the band was auctioning off their tour manager. New material from 2016’s Along the Shadow made up about half the set, but MySpace era music was also peppered in the set for good measure. Seven Years from 2003’s Translating the Name closed out the set.
Taking Back Sunday took the stage for act three in our four part adventure. These heavy hitters of post-hardcore shot out of the gates with Cute Without the E, engaging the crowd into a massive sing along. It seemed that you couldn’t go 30 minutes without hearing that song 13 years ago, but the performance still made the song sound fresh.
Vocalist Adam Lazzarra hammed it up with the crowd, at one point asking us all what chaos tasted like. To me, it tasted like beer, sweat, and nostalgia, but I suppose opinions vary on this.
TBS’s 13 song set of course played into the songs of our past, but they also gave us brand new material, like Tidal Wave off of the same named album debuting later this summer. To me, this demonstrated that Taking Back Sunday knows how to hang onto to what made us love the band, but also knows how to evolve and grow as a band and keep their sound relevant. Dare I say that this band very well might be our generations Social Distortion?
Our final act on the nostalgia train Dashboard Confessional. Prior to their set, the sounds and songs from Back to the Future warmed up the crowd. Maybe it was a metaphor for the tour itself, transporting us all to the past – but without the atomic DeLorean and mad scientist.
Vindicated opened up the set, and immediately got the crowd singing along. Chris Carrabba really knows how to work his audience. Having never seen them in the past, I didn’t really know what I was in for. Dashboard is really the gold standard when it comes to emo, and this still remains true to this day. Along with Chris, core members Scott Schoenbeck on bass, Mike Marsh on drums, and John Lefler on guitar have stuck around since the band’s formatting in 1999 and have really honed their craft. The set was an excellent, almost 50/50, mix of acoustic and full band performances.
During Dashboard, I had to make my way up front to get a closer look at these legends of emo. The set continued with favorites like Saints and Sailors, The Swiss Army Romance, and The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most. Despite not being a huge fan back in high school, I couldn’t resist trying to sing along to all the songs I could remember from them.
Closing the set was Screaming Infidelities – and at this point, I’m sure the audience was screaming along with the band. I predict that a lot of sore throats were had the following morning. But wait!
An encore performance of Hands Down closed out the night. Hand down, this was certainly one of the better shows I have seen this year. All bands involved put on energetic performances, mixing old and new and giving us a hell of an experience.
These are the bands a lot of us grew up with in high school. These were the songs we learned to drive with, got in trouble with, and dyed our hair stupid colors with. Much like the audience, the sound has found its place in the world, has grown up, but has still kept its sense of fun and adventure.
If chaos is what you have a taste for this summer, be sure to check out the show if it’s headed your way. I got a taste for chaos, and damn was it good.
Tour dates – www.tasteofchaos.com
The Early November
Taking Back Sunday
Words by Dallas Hessell
Photos by Josh Chaikin