Dustin Kensrue / Chris Conley / Matt Pryor / Anthony Raneri @ NYC 12/11/2010

Featuring the principle songwriters of Thrice, Saves the Day, The Get Up Kids, and Bayside, the “Where’s the Band?” tour arrived in Brooklyn at the Music Hall of Williamsburg two weeks before Christmas, the first of two New York City dates featuring the four prolific songwriters. The tour’s premise was simple but quite attractive with Dustin Kensrue, Chris Conley, Matt Pryor, and Anthony Raneri performing acoustic sets of their own material as well as some covers and some holiday-themed favorites.

Anthony Raneri

Anthony Raneri

Anthony Raneri performed first, beginning the evening with a cover of Matt Skiba’s “Good Fucking Bye”, one of his staples when performing solo. Raneri showcased his own songwriting talents, as well, with normally-electric Bayside songs like “Landing Feet First” and “Blame it on Bad Luck” sounding great stripped down. Save the Day’s “You Vandal” was a pleasant surprise; “Meghan”, often covered by Raneri with his full band, concluded the enjoyable seven-song set.

Good Fucking Bye (Matt Skiba cover)
Don’t Call Me Peanut (Bayside cover)
Sorrow (Bad Religion cover)
Landing Feet First (Bayside cover)
Blame it on Bad Luck (Bayside cover)
You Vandal (Saves the Day cover)
Meghan (Smoking Popes cover)

Matt Pryor

Matt Pryor

Matt Pryor performed a varied set, drawing from his own solo record, The Get Up Kids, The New Amsterdams, and other songwriters on the tour. Pryor sounded best when taking on the songs he wrote for Confidence Man or with his aforementioned bands; “The Ghost of St. Valentine” was awkward and unemotional, in complete contrast to Bayside’s original. He did better with Saves the Day’s “Freakish” — mixed with parts of “Lorelei” and Cee-Lo Green’s “Fuck You” — but “A Totally New Year” and “Hannah Hold On” were clearly some of Pryor’s better offerings.

A Totally New Year
Sympathy (The Get Up Kids cover)
The Ghost of St. Valentine (Bayside cover)
Stay on the Phone (The New Amsterdams cover)
Like a Man Possessed (The Get Up Kids cover)
Freakish (Saves the Day cover)
Proceed With Caution (The New Amsterdams cover)
Still, There’s a Light
Hannah Hold On (The Get Up Kids cover)

Matt Pryor and Chris Conley

Matt Pryor and Chris Conley

Chris Conley joined Pryor to perform the festive “Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer”, the duo delivering a fun singalong in the spirit of the coming holiday. Conley’s solo set was almost entirely acoustic versions of Saves the Day songs, with only a cover of “Confidence Man” breaking things up near the end. The New Jersey native sounded fantastic, selecting a great hour-long setlist in the process. Conley’s Saves the Day songs were noticeably more intricate than those performed by Raneri and Pryor, with catchy finger-picked riffs adding constant variety to the set. Highlights included “Jessie and My Whetstone”, “Sell My Old Clothes, I’m Off to Heaven”, and “This is Not an Exit”. Unexpectedly, Conley concluded his time on stage with “Jodie” — the last song on Save the Day’s first record released in 1998 — pleasing longtime fans who were likely experiencing the song live for the first time.

Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer
Jessie and My Whetstone (Saves the Day cover)
I’m Sorry I’m Leaving (Saves the Day cover)
Take Our Cars Now! (Saves the Day cover)
Cars and Calories (Saves the Day cover)
Let It All Go (Saves the Day cover)
Rocks Tonic Juice Magic (Saves the Day cover)
Certain Tragedy (Saves the Day cover)
Stay (Saves the Day cover)
Sell My Old Clothes, I’m Off to Heaven (Saves the Day cover)
Confidence Man (Matt Pryor cover)
Dying Day (Saves the Day cover)
Hold (Saves the Day cover)
This is Not an Exit (Saves the Day cover)
Jodie (Saves the Day cover)

Dustin Kensrue

Dustin Kensrue

Unlike the previous three performers, Dustin Kensrue stuck primarily to his own solo output for the duration of his set. The beautiful “Pistol” and haunting “Consider the Ravens” from Please Come Home began the the Thrice frontman’s hour-song set. Kensrue covered one of Saves the Day’s oldest songs (“Three Miles Down”) before jumping into a stripped down version of one of Thrice’s newest (“In Exhile”).

Kensrue reflected on the Christian side of Christmas with “Go Tell it On the Mountain”, performing the traditional song with hints of Tom Waits’s own adaptation tossed in. Kensrue was undoubtedly at his best on songs from his 2007 debut — such as the fast-paced “I Knew You Before” and “Blood and  Wine” — but acoustic takes on tracks from Thrice’s The Artist in the Ambulance were also impressive. Kensrue touched on Waits again with the beautiful “Down There by the Train”, finally wrapping things up with help from Pryor on a Ryan Adams cover.

Consider the Ravens
This is War
Three Miles Down (Saves the Day cover)
In Exile (Thrice cover)
I Knew You Before
Go Tell it On the Mountain
This Good Night Is Still Everywhere
Please Come Home
Stare at the Sun (Thrice cover)
Blanket of Ghosts
Blood and Wine
The Artist in the Ambulance (Thrice cover)
Beggars (Thrice cover)
Down There by the Train (Tom Waits cover)
Oh My Sweet Carolina (Ryan Adams cover)
Linoleum (NOFX cover)
Boxcar (Jawbreaker cover)
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) (Darlene Love cover)

Anthony Raneri, Matt Pryor, and Chris Conley

Anthony Raneri, Matt Pryor, and Chris Conley

All four singer-songwriters joined together “to play some punk rock songs” (and one Christmas classic) to close the evening. Punk in Drublic‘s “Linoleum” went first, with the quartet of men in their thirties smiling ear-to-ear while singing lines like “I’ve got a bed, and a guitar, and a dog named Bob who pisses on my floor”. Jawbreaker’s “Boxcar” was chilling and graceful, thanks to both Blake Schwarzenbach’s lyrical prowess and the collective attitudes of Kensrue, Pryor, Conley, and Raneri. Phil Spector’s often-covered “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” concluded the evening, sending the sold out crowd into the winter cold smiling and warm from the enchanting evening; the lucky ones would be returning to New York City on Sunday for the tour’s second night.

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