Bayside are back!
Having successfully got to the gig without killing any cyclists in Oxford, I got to The Zodiac just in time to see opening act, Attack In Black. Now sometimes an opening act are just a filler. A band that has been given a chance, and who will hopefully warm up the crowd. Now tonight the crowd is a little thin on the ground, perhaps because it's a little downcast weather-wise or perhaps this mid-week gig in late-April is clashing with a televised football match. Anyhow, from the off, Attack In Black are something a little different, going from gentle songs likened to a thoughtful man's band like The Crimea, to dirty-indie-rock songs that could be slightly like The Clash.
The band, from Welland, Ontario in the Maple Syrup, Beaver and Mountie country, possibly lack confidence as they stand quite still between songs. In lead singer/guitarist Daniel Romano, they have a guy that has a loud raw punk voice that spits out the lyrics whether they are soft or aggressive. Other guitarist Spencer has a great ginger rock beard, so much kudos for that bad boy, whilst it's also worth mentioning that he adds some great harmonies to Daniels shouts. Their song, 'Broken Things' has flashes of indie punk along the same lines as You Me And The Atom bomb, whilst last song, 'The Crow', not only has some great 'Na-na na's', but the band also quite successfully get the majority of the audience onto the stage, whereby we even have Moneen guitarist Chris 'Hippy' Hughes joining in at the mic. Watch out for these boys, the Press Office said to look out for them, and boy were they right!
The crowd fills up a little more just before Bayside come on and I would probably not be too far off of the mark to suggest that most of the crowd have come to see them ahead of other joint headliners Moneen. There is a good crowd reaction as the band kick into first song, 'Montawk' one of their earlier songs, before the crowd start to really sing out with, 'Duality' from their recent album, 'The Walking Wounded'. Which as you can imagine is where the majority of the songs come from.
In Anthony Raneri, they have a guy that is only too happy to speak to the crowd, and he comes across a little like Billy Joe Armstrong, as he asks, "Does anyone actually come from Oxford?" to which there are indeed a few people admitting to this, and this serves only to surprise Anthony as replies, "Oh, I didn't realise that people actually live here!". The band then jump into the great 'Existing In A Crisis' from their self-titled 2005 album. Anthony then goes into a discussion about whether people have ever been to see the band before, and you understand that Bayside are in an area that they are not sure they are happy with, and even when you look on the band's website blog there is a long detailed piece defending themselves against selling out. I guess any band that starts off slowly and doesn't start selling a lot until a few albums down the line hit this period, but guys, embrace it, don't reject it! They do, however decide to dedicate one of their old songs, 'Alcohol And Alter Boys' to all of the new fans.
Bayside certainly know how to rock and have the crowd jumping around to 'I And I', and then with their harmony laced tune 'Walking Wounded'. There is much flashing of cameras and mobile phones, and you known by then that Moneen have either got a crowd that is truly warmed up, or a crowd that wants Bayside to stay on forever. Finishing with, 'Devotion', it's the first time that I have seen this band, but I'm betting that it won't be the last!
There's some humble excitement as Moneen take to the stage, and even dare I say it an embarrassment that they are the top billing tonight for what is the last date of the tour whereby both Bayside and Moneen have joint headlined. It's not long before they are jumping into full swing, and you get the full aggression of what they can produce. Kicking off with, two songs from the bands great, 'The Red Tree' album', in 'Don't Ever Tell Locke What He Can't Do', and then the rocktastic, 'If Tragedy's Appealing, Then Disaster's An Additction'. Lead singer Kenny Bridges is jumping all around and is built up with enthusiasm, however the crowd appear to be made up more of sarcastic school kids, who feel the need to shout out random comments just to be heard. Although one kid near me did amuse me by asking, "Why the Hell are your song title's so long?" to which Kenny replied, "Why not?" Indeed.
The sound didn't seem to be as crisp as Bayside, and Kenny Bridges spends the first few songs signalling to the sound guys that things just aren't quite right with his microphone. Then as the gig goes on, a number of the crowd are the merchandise stand getting autographs from the Bayside lads, leaving a large gapping whole in the crowd, however a little later on everyone is back, and even find themselves back up on stage with members of the other bands in a nice finale. Keyy sings out, "I don't want to go home", but you know what, I think I'm just about ready.
Moneen played a good set, but sometimes gigs go this way, and I guess with it being the last date on the tour they certainly won't lose much sleep over it, but tonight was all about Bayside, a band that had been hit with tragedy a few years ago, but who have bounced back to be even better. Good work fellas!