With support from American Fangs, Lansdowne, and Black Suit Youth, Story of the Year performed in downtown Manhattan on a hot summer evening. After stealing the show from headliners Anberlin just a few months earlier, it would be interesting to see if Story of the Year could match that night’s intensity as the main act in the 600-person Blender Theater.
Just after 9PM, American Fangs kicked of their performance with fiery vocals from lead singer Gus Cavazos. The band tore through an exciting set, pulling songs from their 2009 self-titled debut EP. At one point, Cavazos jumped into the crowd and sang from inside a circle pit, prompting roars from those nearby and immediately forcing the crowd to reciprocate his energy. The Houston natives sounded tight through the half hour set, likely gaining some new fans from a crowd that had never heard of the quartet before their set began.
Missouri’s Story of the Year started with two album openers back-to-back, beginning with “The Children Sing” from their latest full-length. “And the Hero Will Drown” went next, setting the tone for the five-piece’s seventy-five minute set: loud, brash, and much more intense than their over-polished and finely tuned studio output. Things continued with “Falling Down”, another high-powered 2003 romp from Page Avenue, lead by frontman Dan Marsala’s explosive vocals.
“The Antidote”, augmented with guitarist Phil Sneed’s top-notch backing vocals, sounded great. “Anthem of Our Dying Day” was noticeably more urgent live, rendering the meager studio version obsolete in the process. On the new “The Dream is Over”, guitarist Ryan Phillips tore through the song’s blazing solo with impressive accuracy, further supporting the fact that Story of the Year are an excellent live act. Still, the quintet stumbles through some song transitions; a lot of the set is unnecessary banter between Marsala and bassist Adam Russel. The band seems to build their live show around that, though: songs like “In the Shadows” (written by primary lyricist Russel) capture the spirit of that banter and the constant push-and-pull between Marsala and Russel’s friendship. Still, when the band takes on some of their better songs — like the unrelenting, anti-homophobic “Is This My Fate? He Asked Them”, which closed the set — Story of the Year truly shines.
The Children Sing
And the Hero Will Drown
Our Time is Now
The Ghost of You and I
Anthem of Our Dying Day
Take Me Back
The Dream is Over
In the Shadows
Is This My Fate? He Asked Them
Say It Ain’t So (Weezer cover)
Until the Day I Die
Story of the Year’s encore consisted of Marsala alone with an acoustic guitar taking requests from the crowd. The frontman tried to perform Weezer’s “Say it Aint’ So” but cut the song short after his guitar’s electronics stopped working midway through the chorus. Marsala replaced the guitar in time to perform “Sidewalks”, but the replacement wasn’t tuned flat so he struggled to hit the song’s higher notes, a refreshing moment of integrity that recalls a band still up-and-coming and just trying to fit their songs into the allotted set time. The band joined Marsala during the end of “Sidewalks” and adjusted appropriately to the key change, playing along with Marsala one half-step higher than expected.
“Until the Day I Die”, the band’s biggest single to date, closed the show at 11:20. The song started with an extended introduction that resulted in a climax of the track’s familiar guitar lick. The song remains the only link to a band that once tasted mainstream success; Story of the Year is now a fairly obscure act, only selling out the small Blender Theater with last minute at-the-door ticket sales. The band has only gotten stronger since their one-time burst of popularity, though, and Story of the Year continues to issue solid full-length albums, supporting those releases with hard-hitting, small club rock shows.