Words by Sera Jones, photos by Elizabeth Sharpe

When it comes to the emo years of old, there is plenty of cringing at old selfies and questionable fashion choices to be done. Funnily enough, the universe has a way of digging up the past every now and then, whether you like it or not. Just when you thought you had finally completely outgrown your emo phase, one of the scene’s biggest bands decides to announce a world tour.

Taking Back Sunday are a band well-known and loved by anyone who grew up in the scene, so it seems fitting that the tour itself would contain a strong dose of nostalgia. Taking Back Sunday haven’t just planned a regular tour; after two entire decades of playing music together, the band have decided to celebrate in a huge way. A massive commemorative album is on its way with an additional two new songs, while on tour they are performing a double-album play through setlist. To add to the excitement, the boys are picking two different albums every show, bringing a different experience for each night.

Like the legends they are, Taking Back Sunday included Australia within the first dates of their incredible world tour – and they even brought Aussie up-and-comers Young Lions along for the ride. Beginning in Adelaide earlier this month and finishing up tonight in Brisbane, the quartet have made a huge splash with their epic setlists and between song charisma and humour.

With double dates in both Brisbane and Sydney, it was clear that they still have what it takes to pull an enthusiastic crowd night after night. As luck would have it, I got to witness the magic for myself last night at the first show of their double dates at the Triffid in Brisbane.

By the time Young Lions took to the stage at 7:30, The Triffid was already teeming with excited fans. It was clear that the Brisbane locals had a dedicated fanbase in their hometown. The boys wasted no time in getting the venue warmed up, delivering a polished performance that still brimmed with a wild and uncontainable energy. Arms flailed at the front of the crowd as the band powered through tracks like “Burn the Money” and “Destroy Me”, with lead singer Zach Britt’s drawling vocals giving a unique energy to their already stunning live sound. To add to the intensity of their set, Britt hopped offstage and took a walk through the crowd mid song, forming an awesome moment of genuine connection between artist and audience. Before long it was time to say goodbye to Young Lions as they parted the stage with grins on their faces and new fans in the crowd.

In typical headliner style, Taking Back Sunday swept onstage 10 minutes late – but no one seemed to care as the Triffid erupted into deafening cheers. The band launched into the first song of the night, “You Know How I do”, revealing that the first album of the night to be performed would be their 2002 release called “Tell All Your Friends”. The crowd devolved into a mess of jumping, dancing and impassioned singing as the Long Island four-piece played the fan favourites “Bike Scene” and “Cute Without the E”, with lead singer Adam Lazzara taking a moment mid-song to tell the audience that Brisbane was his favourite city to visit in all of Australia. “But don’t tell anyone I said that shit!” he then quipped with a laugh.

Taking Back Sunday ripped through the remainder of the album with confidence and grace born of twenty years of experience, with the band stopping to let the crowd sing the lyrics in deafening unison. Lazzara is a sight to behold  onstage; his talent for whipping the microphone around the air and himself and catching it perfectly every time was fun to watch, while his meandering anecdotes and quirky humour served to lighten the mood between the intensity of their songs.

Over too soon, Taking Back Sunday roared through the final track on “Tell All Your Friends”, ending with an overwhelming applause from the now-sweaty and messy crowd.

A few more wandering stories from Lazzara and an impromptu Q&A with some fans in the crowd filled the space between “Tell All your Friends” and the mysterious second album of the set. The crowd laughed as Lazzara singled out a fan who was filming and humorously asked them to make sure they filmed from a good angle, preferably from the waist down. “That was dirty, I’m sorry!” he giggled as he got back on track, announcing the next album to be played as the critically acclaimed “Louder Now”.  

The audience roared in excitement as the energy levels seemed to spike at the prospect of witnessing such a well-loved album performed live in full, and the band jumped into the first track of the album called “What’s It Feel Like to Be a Ghost?” with reckless abandon. If the crowd was excited before, it had nothing on the enthusiasm and intensity given by the audience as the entire venue danced and jumped with renewed vigour ro songs like “MakeDamnSure” and “Twenty-Twenty Surgery”.

“Divine Intervention” saw Lazzara don an harmonica and acoustic guitar in an earnest and touching performance, while “Miami” and “Error: Operator” had the crowd going mental once more.

It wasn’t long before the emotional “I’ll Let You Live” signalled the end of “Louder Now” as the audience cheered and whistled in a cacophony of joy. Surprisingly, the band chose to remain onstage for the interlude before the encore. As Lazzara put it, the idea of walking offstage and pretending that the night was over felt contrived; he’d rather stay onstage and chat to his audience.

The four song encore was jam packed with classics and even their two brand new songs, squeezing the last bit of wild energy from the crowd with huge some huge tracks. The crowd moshed along to the newly released “You Can’t Look Back”, before “This Photograph is Proof (I Know You Know)” had everyone happily reeling from the heavy nostalgia. Another new track called “All Ready to Go” followed close behind, showing that even after twenty years, the band can still write some amazing new material. Finally, to top the entire incredible night off, Taking Back Sunday triumphantly closed their set with “A Decade Under the Influence”, eliciting loud roars from the still-pumped-up crowd. The moshpit morphed into venue-wide dance party once more to see the band offstage as they played their final track of the night.

Taking Back Sunday certainly know how to out on one hell of a show; two decades of being a hugely successful band has paid off in the quality of their live shows, and last night at The Triffid in Brisbane absolutely did not disappoint. The 25-song setlist spanning two albums plus an encore never felt boring or tedious; Taking Back Sunday did an amazing job of bringing a high-energy performance and keeping that energy at a lofty level throughout the night with masterful precision.

I think I can speak for everyone who attended the show last night – seeing Taking Back Sunday live was a wonderful night of awesome music and cathartic nostalgia.

Taking Back Sunday only have one more show in Brisbane tonight, so if you’re a local you should absolutely get online, get yourself a ticket, and your ass to the Triffid to see Taking Back Sunday and Young Lions tonight!

Pick up your tickets to their last Australian show in Brisbane HERE!