I’m in a parking lot with 4,000 people. I haven’t done this in a long time. Do I even remember how? “This is our first show since 2019,” says Adam Lazzara—in a seemingly southern accent. Did he forget how to speak? Did we all forget how to dance? One thing is for sure—we didn’t forget how to crowd-surf!
A bold and ambitious pair—Freddy & Marcelo—breathed life back into parking lot shows, as co-owners of Kraken Music Fest. Live music festivals have been happening for months in Florida—see Central Florida Fairgrounds & Suwannee Music Park—but none of these were punk shows. On Saturday, June 19, 2021, we got our first punk rock show. Featuring a live, general admission, standing-room-only, rock and roll concert with FL hardcore boys (aka men in their 30s & 40s), Evergreen Terrace, NC emo kids, Emery, and Long Island (NY) legends, Taking Back Sunday. The parking lot: Ace Café Orlando—jammed between I-4 Ultimate ®™© and the FLA Sunrail tracks, surrounded by the downtown rainbow skyline.
How was it? In short, it was fucking awesome (man it’s been a long time since I’ve written that). I didn’t even mind paying $12 for a Miller Lite! Everyone seemed happy to finally be free. On my emo side, there was a moment where I completely refrained from thinking, “everything sucks.”
How was the sound? Taking Back Sunday was all I personally heard. Word on the street was Emery and Evergreen Terrace had awesome audio—even better than TBS. My guess—Taking Back Sunday had a “touring sound engineer” with them who thought they could do a better job than the person who was already doing a great job. But I wasn’t there to compare. Why? Because I HIT TWO SHOWS THAT NIGHT MFers! Yes! Like, old times. I started my night on a double date at the Orlando Improv. My good friend Trevor (aka T-Nasty) and his wife Jamie had tickets to see this comedian. Trevor came by a few weeks ago to hang out (aka Getting Fucked Up w Trevor Day—hey, sometimes you just gotta get fucked up w/ Trevor!) and I asked him if he was going to Taking Back Sunday (which, for the record, most people I asked didn’t even know they were playing!). He says, “Nah, I wish. One of my wife’s favorite comedians is performing at the Improv so we’re going to that. I don’t think we can make both.” I asked who it was and it turned out to be one of my favorite comics, too—Chris Porter (video). So, I was up for the challenge—two shows, one night.
We met for drinks at this place called The Hampton Social [see photo above] before the comedy show. It’s a “Rosé All Day” kind of place. We lucked into four bar seats and our tender of said bar was wonderful. After we had a quick drink (and I had a J), we walked into show #1. At the Improv, they have a Peruvian Green Sauce to pair with their chilled shrimp—gotta embrace your heritage, so I had to have them. Let me tell you, those little shrimps were so delicious when dipped into the plastic ramekin of my heritage sauce. “You know he came up with some funny shit during quarantine,” Trevor’s voice rings in my head. I’m so glad I’m here. It’s becoming a perfect night. Trevor was right. Chris Porter had a ton of stupid-funny shit to say. The best surprise was how sharp his opening comics were (The Improv never disappoints)! I even snuck a photo of Trevor & Jamie (see below) before we snuck out a few minutes early to beat the crowd and head downtown. When I was walking out of the bathroom, the door to the main venue room swung open and almost hit me. It’s Chris Porter. He apologizes; accepts my offer for a selfie. Nice and blurry. Perfect timing. On our way.
The way the parking lot is set up at Ace Café Orlando is exciting. It felt like walking into festival—there are merch tents, beer tents, food tents, and a sound tent. People are sweaty. Alive. Hugging each other… my attention is everywhere all at once. You can feel some real love shit in the air. “I’m an addict for dramatics, I confuse the two for love…” Let’s go!!! “Liar (It Takes One To Know One)” into “You’re So Last Summer” into “Set Phasers To Stun.” Say yes. Say yes. Say yes, say yes. “Better Homes and Gardens” leads into “Timberwolves at New Jersey” [insert some clever line referencing how he’s got the mic and we’ve got the mosh pit]. Did I mention, we did NOT forget how to crowd-surf? (This photo below may be Evergreen Terrace, but I can assure you, there were just as many crowd-surfers for TBS).
Damn, I really can’t sing well. Neither can the people next to me. It’s honestly perfect! I see friends through cracks in the crowd—Chase, Jess, Suzy, Valentina, Josh. I feel my other friends there too. It’s been so long since we were all in the same proverbial room. This is my first show with my new girlfriend—Michelina (see above photo w/ Chris Porter). There are songs she knows better than me, “My Blue Heaven.” And songs I shout back better than her, “You Know How I Do.” We are two Taking Back Sunday fans who fell in love with the band at different points since their incarnation. I keep forgetting their founding guitarist Eddie Reyes isn’t in the band anymore. I’m pretty full of excitement every time I remember John Nolan is back in the band (I know, it’s been like 10 years, but still! Also, it should be mentioned that their OG bassist, Shawn Cooper, re-joined the band when John Nolan returned in 2010.). Their second guitar spot (Eddie’s) hasn’t been filled since 2018. I had a big thought—imagine if the spot gets filled by their old guitarist/vocalist, Fred Mascherino. Onstage: John Nolan, Adam Lazzara, & Fred Mascherino. A dream team. Can we start a petition or something? If you lived under an emo rock after the debut album, Tell All Your Friend (2002), and liked their next two albums, Where You Want to Be (2004) and Louder Now (2006), the latter two albums were all Fred and Adam on vocals. D R E A M. T E A M. Then, add John… sheesh.
When I was coming on stage I was like, Oh shit, this is what we do. I was nervous. I almost started crying. I was afraid. And I’m strong as hell. I’m six foot two, I ain’t scared of nothing.”
Awe shit, “…Slowdance on the Inside”! The closing track, and one of my personal favorites from Where You Want To Be. “I never asked for your opinion, I just got it and I get it…” The way Fred sings “This glass house is burning down” still makes my shins sharp. I used to listen to this CD on repeat in my 1999 Ford Ranger (red) driving to fall in love or get drunk or to go to work or … just to drive and be anywhere but home with my parents. WYWTB came out two months after I graduated high school. I covered the song “Bonus Mosh Pt. II” with my high school band (Negative Progress—yeah, I know, feel free to roast me on this name) and I played drums and sang back ups (Fred’s parts). I did so badly at the singing part, a friend of mine pulled me aside after the show and said, “If you ever need someone else to sing the backup parts, please let me know. I’ll do it or find someone.”
After a little story about the movie Fight Club being the only DVD Adam and John had in their apartment, and stretching comparisons to how it’s a love story which ultimately inspired their music video, the chords we all scream like little kids to, rings over the line array speakers. “Your lipstick, his collar. Don’t bother, angel. I know exactly what goes on.”
A few weeks ago, Michelina performed a solo improvisational dance show HÄOS on Church. It’s a show where the audience writes songs they love on little pieces of paper, then are randomly drawn to form a playlist. Michelina dances to said playlist, never having heard most of the songs. One of those songs was “Make Damn Sure” by these Taking Back Sunday boys (she knew that one). This whole place a choir: “You’ve got this new head filled up with smoke, and I’ve got my veins all tangled close. To the jukebox bars you frequent, The safest place to hide … X X X”
What a fitting way to end the evening. There were no encores. No fights. No frowns. Just humble rock and roll and everyone trying to be Okay. Covid tried to make damn sure that we can’t ever leave [our homes] but life through music always finds a way. In this instance—we’re back under the stars with open pores, grateful for the experience, feeling new again.
End? No. No. No. Once the music ends, the night keeps going! In the parking lot I see everyone—Nina, Mark, Bailee, David, Brittany, Aman, Jason, other Jason, and I missed my dude, Jeff Roach, who took all the still photos of the music you’ve seen in this here article/blog/review/journal thing we’re in together. Jeff Roach and I have known one another since before Taking Back Sunday existed (middle school) and he joined me as the first-ever Shows I Go To Staff Photographer (follow his Instagram here). He’s now a dad and left a little early to beat the traffic like I did when I was coming here. Now that I’m here—downtown—there’s only one place I have to go: Elizabeth “Lizzy” McCormack’s Irish Bar, the oldest Irish Bar in downtown Orlando and the place in which I’ve donated a great portion of my liver. A pint of Guinness is always best after a show. And Lizzy’s offers my personal favorite. I’ve had so many beautiful nights there, after shows—from doing car bomb shots with Minus The Bear (and winning), to whiskey walks with Lucero’s Ben Nichols present, to running into Brian from The Front Bottoms, and tons of other musicians who are famous in their own right. Glad this place exists.
If any of the above made you miss going to shows, please Make Damn Sure you go to the next Kraken Music Fest Presents concert. How do I end these things again? How about—Thank you for reading and have a wonderful day. <3
Taking Back Sunday Live Review by Mitch Foster.
Taking Back Sunday Live Concert Photos by Jeff Roach.
TAKING BACK SUNDAY PHOTO GALLERY w/ EMERY & EVERGREEN TERRACE
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