Emo rock was alive and well this past Tuesday evening at The Regent Theater downtown when Los Angeles’ own Say Anything packed the indie theater with fans ready to accompany Max Bemis and company as they brought their emotionally-charged songs to life. A beautiful string quartet accompanied each rock song through the evening, adding to the full band onstage and highlighting every powerful lyric and high-energy chorus as the crowd members sang along at the top of their lungs.

IMG_1779All photos by Stephen J Branagan

The founders of local emo night Taking Back Tuesday DJ’d in between sets, toting a playlist filled with sad songs of the early-2000s. (If you’re looking to relive all the best songs of your teenage years, Taking Back Tuesday’s monthly DJ night is this upcoming Tuesday at The Echoplex.) But fans got to sing along with the real deal as one of the biggest acts of the emo era took the stage.

Say Anything’s tour was in official support of the band’s most recent release, Hebrews, which exclusively featured all string arrangements instead of guitars. The string quartet honored each newer track while bringing a fresh perspective to older cuts like “Woe” and my favorite, the angst-filled “Eloise.”

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I had waited for years to sing along with Bemis, who had canceled two shows I was supposed to attend in the past decade due to health issues. I joined fans who seemed to have waited just as long as I had to scream, “You took the world from me!” Fans consistently overpowered the frontman’s vocals through “Hate Everyone” and “Judas Decapitation” as well.

The audience exploded as Bemis announced each song and became especially loud when he announced, “My whole family is here tonight! Applaud for them!” He then invited his wife Sherri DuPree-Bemis on stage to sing “The Shape of Love To Come” for the first time live. He joked before beginning that he had “written it for her” and “hoped that was okay.”

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“Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too” made the energy surge as the crowd danced along to the upbeat kiss-off and its equally bitter partner “Do Better.” The show closed with “Nibble Nibble” and “Ahhh… Men” as Bemis thanked the crowd and declared Los Angeles to be “the best place in the fucking world!”

Post show, friends went upstairs to celebrate the birthday of Emo Night co-founder Babbs Szabo. As I ate cake with my hands, the DJ played “Alive With The Glory Of Love,” Say Anything’s biggest hit that surprisingly wasn’t performed that night, but we sang along as if the show was still going on just the same.

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