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Volume 68, Issue 137, Monday, April 21, 2003

Arts & Entertainment

Taking back Sunday gives guys fighting opportunity

By Ray Hafner
senior staff writer

People are always asking me if I know Taking Back Sunday.

Fortunately, the first rule of Project Sunday is to tell all your friends, as in tell all your friends about this New York band's explosive and experimental, genre-blending debut album Tell All Your Friends.

Photo courtesy of Victory Records

Taking Back Sunday stopped by Numbers on Saturday night in support of its explosive and experimental, genre-blending debut album Tell All Your Friends.

Those Houston kids already in the know were out in full force Saturday night for a packed, hot and sweaty brawl of a concert at which those in the pit made sure to remain men together.

Taking Back Sunday is one of the few bands where the guy fans scream louder than the girls, egging on lead singer Adam Lazzara through each one of the band's roller-coaster and schizophrenic takes on adolescent life.

The video for TBS' latest single "Cute without the 'E' (Cut from the team)" features Lazzara and the rest of the band recreating key scenes from the über-cool David Fincher flick Fight Club, whose theme of male feminization finds itself repeated in the lyrics of TBS.

"We all want to be bigger and better men," said bassist Shaun Cooper, relaxing on the bus before Saturday's show. Plus, he said, "Adam has a homosexual obsession with everything Brad Pitt does."

As Pitt's character in the film Tyler Durden says, "We're a generation of men raised by women." And as anyone who's followed the emo genre knows, men are having a difficult time getting used to wearing their hearts on their sleeves.

"You see it in the reaction you get from kids," said guitarist and singer John Nolan, "You go to any show and there's a couple hundred boys there that are just screaming their hearts out. I think there was a time when guys weren't so openly emotional."

Nolan, sporting a black t-shirt that says "All Man" given to him by a fan in San Antonio, isn't sure if this is a good thing, just that it's definitely something new in the culture. It's satisfying for both him and Lazzara, who write all the bands lyrics, to see kids connect with their words, he said.

"They're really getting the same things out that we got out by writing the songs," he said.

But lest you think Taking Back Sunday is just another namby-pamby emo band appealing to dorks who wear sweaters in 90-degree heat, the sound is the kind that rocks socks off. Or, just take a look at the lyrics.

With a decidedly Samuel Beckett manner, the words were often literally cut and pasted to keep things from getting too straight forward, leaving just the emotional impact, Nolan says. "It comes across very strongly, even if you don't know what it is."

From "And my eye through the scope down the barrel of gun" to "Best friends mean I pulled the trigger, best friends means you get what you deserve" the lyrics are rife with gun imagery and imminent violence, all sung over the unique and emerging blend of emo and hardcore.

"A melodic hardcore band with punk rock influences," insists Nolan, who is what you'd call the esoteric member of the band, adding that the emo label is stupid.

"We're an emo band," follows Cooper, preferring the simple labeling to keep things straight.

The crowd at Numbers paid no attention to labeling though, swirling in a rock-influenced fury determined to destroy something beautiful during the hour-long set that featured several new songs.

Instead, the band, with its complex and layered sound, created something beautiful and planted the promise of great things to come.

Lazzara sounds like a tough guy when he's singing, but between songs he profusely thanked the crowd in a meek, almost tragically sweet voice. "This means more than you'll ever know," he said.

But the crowd wasn't having any of this sissy stuff and yelled back for more music. It's Saturday night and it's time to fight, they seemed to say. The band was happy to oblige.

Taking Back Sunday


The Verdict: Taking Back Sunday was in full force with its hardcore sound and emotional lyrics.

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