Say Anything, mewithoutYou deliver on their own terms at Concord Music Hall

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

MewithoutYou front man Aaron Weiss at Concord Music Hall, Friday, May 6.

MewithoutYou front man Aaron Weiss at Concord Music Hall, Friday, May 6.

“Dude I saw Say Anything open for them 10 years ago,” a woman standing next to me said. The them in this case refers to mewithoutYou, a five-piece rock band from Philadelphia.

It’s certainly not rare for opening acts to take the leap and become headliners, but the journey for both Say Anything and mewithoutYou — who played together Friday at Concord Music Hall — over the last 10 years couldn’t have been more different.

At their peak, Say Anything, led by songwriter and front man Max Bemis, is still largely known for their scene classic “…Is a Real Boy.” The album received crossover appeal, and unfairly or not, the shadow of the band’s first album has loomed over Bemis his entire career.

And for most of the show, it was apparent Bemis and his band wanted to remind people that it’s been 12 years since that album released. Say Anything would go five or six tracks playing material off their five other full lengths.

But consistency has never been Say Anything’s strong suit. Going from “Six Six Six” to “Death for My Birthday,” and then playing “17 coked up speeding” are all so different sonically that the rhythm of the setlist felt all over the place.

Meanwhile, mewithoutYou has always been stable. Aaron Weiss’ spoken word type vocals were never going to lead them to popularity outside the scene they are in, but it doesn’t matter. Even as the main support, mewithoutYou is going to deliver 10 solid tracks from a variety of their six albums. On Friday, there was nothing better than transitioning from “Wolf Am I (and Shadow)” to “The Fox, the Crow and The Cookie.” Both tracks are among the band’s top material.

For Say Anything, it’s become increasingly obvious that it’s now the Bemis show. Looking at previous setlists online, Say Anything rarely mixes it up and Bemis tours with members who aren’t officially part of the band. Bemis is going to perform the songs he wants to play.

But when they embrace it, some of the best moments from Friday’s show were when Bemis performed songs either by himself or with his wife, Sherri DuPree. Surprisingly, “Lost My Touch” was one of the stronger live tracks, which involves Bemis acknowledging his faults with his music (“the truth is I’m warm in the blanket of my niche.”)

And if Bemis does want to play tracks from “…Is a Real Boy,” he’s going to do it on his terms. For the encore, Bemis also played both “Alive with the Glory of Love” and “I want to Know Your Plans” alone.

As the crowd embraced him and sung along with every word, Bemis delivered — in true headlining fashion.