When I first heard Taking Back Sunday’s debut album, Tell All Your Friends, in 2002, I had no idea what an impact it would have on me, both as a writer and a fan of the emo music genre. At the time, I was a freshman in an all-girls college prep high school and was barely dipping my toes into that scene, but more than ten years later, I can still trace my love of the emo/alt-rock genre to that album and the feeling that washed over me when I heard the opening lines to “You Know How I Do.”
To celebrate the ten-year anniversary of this landmark album, Taking Back Sunday toured nationwide last year performing the record in its entirety, and they recently released a live album entitled TAFY10 (Acoustic) that is full of acoustic versions of these powerful songs, personal stories, and crowd sing alongs.
Any Taking Back Sunday fan knows that the band’s live performances are more than a concert; they are an experience. Each song on Tell All Your Friends is packed with strong emotions, from love to angst to anger, and hearing these tracks stripped down to an acoustic guitar with Adam Lazzara’s tortured-artist voice and John Nolan’s additional vocals firing back is a completely different experience from the original. Recorded in the intimate settings of The Troubadour here in Los Angeles and The Beat Kitchen in Chicago, TAYF10 breathes new life into Taking Back Sunday’s seminal debut album.
The crowd’s vocals can be heard supporting Lazzara through every song, reminding Taking Back Sunday fans why music like this is so unforgettable. These songs become embedded in your memories, the best and worst times of your life, and singing out the lyrics back to Lazzara is as cathartic as it gets. I can remember speeding down the freeway after being dumped by my high school boyfriend, screaming the “You’re So Last Summer” lyrics “Boys like you are a dime a dozen!,” and based on the gang vocals on this live album, I wasn’t alone in finding those lyrics at the times in my life I needed them the most.
The addition of violin and keyboard can be found in almost every song as well. The haunting version of “Cute Without The E (Cut From The Team)” comes across more as a ballad on this album than an angry, alt-rock song, and the gang vocals swell at the pivotal line, “”Why can’t I feel anything from anyone other than you?”
Michelle Nolan, who was rumored to be part of the reason the band fought years ago, sings along in “Great Romances of the Twentieth Century” and “Bike Scene,” reminding fans how far the band has come and how solid the ‘original’ lineup of Taking Back Sunday truly is. Check out “Bike Scene” performed here at West Hollywood’s The Troubadour:
Taking Back Sunday experiments a bit with some of these classic songs, such as “Head Club,” which Lazzara describes as one of the “most badly titled songs we have.” It’s performed as an uptempo, folk song, but that doesn’t throw fans as they sing along to the gang vocals, “Don’t call my name out your window, I’m leaving!”
The band concludes with the classic B-side “Your Own Disaster,” which takes its time meandering through the musical interlude and closes the album on a gentler, more personal note. TAYF10 is a must-have for any Taking Back Sunday fan who has stood in the pit after a concert, watched the house lights come up, and immediately yearned for their next chance to see this band live. Relive every emotionally charged lyric and gang sing along with this album and remind yourself why Tell All Your Friends is one of the most unforgettable emo releases of all time.
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