Say Anything at the House of Blues | October 30

Click here for the full Say Anything slideshow
(photo by Jerome Eno)

It's not entirely clear whether or not indie-punkers Say Anything named their band after the classic '80s flick (though as children of that generation, it seems pretty likely) but Max Bemis, frontman of the six-man band, seems to have at least one thing in common with Cusack's Lloyd Dobler: unabashed earnestness. Throughout Say Anything's roughly hour-long set, Bemis repeatedly, and fervently, thanked the audience for showing up. Every third song or so, Bemis would take a moment to marvel aloud over the crowd they'd managed to draw to the House of Blues. So not punk rock. However, with two fairly successful albums under their belts and a new self-titled record that dropped just today to considerable fan hype, I actually found their bald enthusiasm sort of refreshing.
"There are so freaking many of you guys," Bemis informed the crowd, who rewarded his observation with a roar of approval. That's because, despite treating their fan base like the hot chick in high school they just can't believe agreed to go out with them, these guys really know how to put on a show. The packed crowd at the HoB fairly seethed with anticipation, as they waited out the opening acts Moneen, Moving Mountains, and Eisley. A side note: Eisely is a family act for which Bemis's pixie-like wife, Sherri DuPree, plays guitar. While one might suspect some indie nepotism is solely responsible for their spot in Say Anything's tour, the female-fronted band is actually remarkably talented. The lead singer sounds a bit like Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis, with just a tad more angst.
When Eisley relinquished the stage to the main act, Say Anything's fans were more than ready. As the sound of a ringing phone filled the venue, signaling the beginning of "Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too," the crowd went -- forgive me this pun -- orgasmic. Decked out in matching short-sleeved white dress shirts and slacks, Say Anything's members looked like they had just escaped from a high school glee club rehearsal ... or maybe from the set of Office Space. Questionable attire notwithstanding, however, I genuinely like this band ... and thought they pulled off a pretty tight show.
The set list struck a nice balance between a lot of fan favorites and some tracks off their latest album. Bemis warmed up the crowd with some old standbys, including his offbeat tribute to the Holocaust, "Alive With the Glory of Love" and "Shiksa." (Did I mention the prevalent Jewish undertones they've got going on?) Bemis has a very particular vocal style: screaming, half-talking, and often lisping his way through the songs -- and somehow, it all works, especially on tracks like "Admit It," in which Bemis (methinks ironically) calls out all the poser-hipster-anti-establishment wannabes plaguing his industry. 

All six members maintained an admirable level of pep throughout what turned out to be a pretty short set. The boys stomped, jumped, and generally rocked out with unflagging energy from start to finish, and their amped-up audience followed suit. When the band played their newest single, "Hate Everyone," (a sentiment apparently not felt at Friday's show) the crowd already knew every word. At the end of the show, Bemis struck a bargain with the house: They'd end with a track off their first album, "Is a Real Boy", if the audience would agree to sing along to two new ones like they were already old favorites. All readily complied.

A not-quite-comprehensive set list for Say Anything's October 30 Boston show

Say Anything set list 2009
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