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Exasperated fans and a birthday celebration punctuate Taking Back Sunday’s sold-out concert at House of Blues Las Vegas

March 10th, 2007

Taking Back Sunday

The crowd inside the House of Blues grew restless after patiently listening to two opening acts, including the fabulous Armor For Sleep and hardcore, long-haired Christian rockers Underoath. Suddenly, to the audience’s great delight, the stage lights gradually brightened, and Taking Back Sunday’s lead singer Adam Lazzara — dressed in a form-fitting black outfit — practically bounced onto stage as if springs were attached to his shoes.

Though both opening acts had gone over well, the crowd went into an ecstatic and frenzied uproar as soon as they heard the first few thundering drumbeats from percussionist Mark O’Connell. Arms flailed wildly around and heads radically bobbed as Lazzara, singing tumultuously, hung over the stage so close to the crowd it could almost reach him (as during Underoath’s set, there would be no crowd surfing). Most fans controlled themselves, though some were so wild that security frequently had to restrain them. In the general admission, standing-room-only area near the stage, a few needed to be rescued from the sweaty and rambunctious crowd. More than a few people were clearly bruised and swollen about the face.

After a few songs from Taking Back Sunday’s latest album, Louder Now, the lights dimmed and Lazzara (complete with acoustic guitar and harmonica neck-piece) appeared on stage solo. The crowd seemed confused—or perhaps oblivious—when he snuck in the chorus of The Killer’s “When You Were Young,” a clever choice, integrating the Vegas-originating band’s sound into the act.

When the rest of the band members returned to the stage, they performed some of their older tracks, such as “Cute without the E (Cut From the Team),” from the 2001 album Tell All Your Friends. The chemistry and synergy of the complete team was apparent, smoothly playing off of one another. Lazzara’s flamboyant, almost graceful dance movements included enthusiastic microphone swinging. His ability to maintain vocals while being self-strangled by the mic cord shocked the crowd further into frenzy. It was impressive, yet at the same time somewhat horrifying for the fans who might prefer to see a prettier, non-noosed Lazzara. Fortunately, he didn’t end up passing out or knocking himself unconscious. Eddie Reyes’s killer guitar chords made the audience cut loose even more with random bouncing, while Fred Mascherino on guitar and vocals tested the limits of his vertebrae with boisterous head movements.

During a short breather, Lazzara informed the audience that Mascherino married his girlfriend, Asia, over the weekend, and that it was also time for more celebration—as it was also Matt’s 23rd birthday. With his parents watching from the side of the stage, a lit candle-laden cake appeared, sparking the crowd and band to sing a light-hearted—and not quite in tune—rendition of “Happy Birthday.”

After the blaze was extinguished with an exhausted lungful of air, Taking Back Sunday returned to what it does best—convincing the audience that, regardless of just how little energy and pizazz a typical Vegas audience has, that they should rock their asses off.