Words by Nick Hodgins | Photo by Neil Visel

“And the record begins with a song of rebellion.”

Nine words, ten years later and it’s probably safe to assume Max Bemis is still having anxiety over them. In fact, the intro’s delivery this past weekend at Sayreville’s Starland Ballroom was anything but perfect; yet for …Is a Real Boy, an album riddled with quirkiness, social anxiety and extreme ironies it seemed oddly appropriate that Bemis may have a blunder or two throughout the set.

“Can you guys blame me for missing a song? This record is old as fuck,” Max joked after forgetting that “Spidersong” followed “The Futile.” “In fact this album is so old we’re doing a ten year anniversary for it!”

For a few hours this past Saturday night at Starland Ballroom it was 2004 all over again, and what an anniversary show it was. The crowd didn’t miss a beat throughout the 16 song set and for the most part, the band didn’t either. From the bounciness of “Woe” through every ‘oh yeah’ of “Alive with the Glory of Love,” the night was the ultimate sing-along as much as it was a dance party.

For such an iconic album it’d be hard to pick just one highlight from the night, the whole set was a highlight in itself. About halfway through, Chris Conley of Saves the Day came out to assist Max in performing “Every Man has a Molly,” there wasn’t a soul in the venue not singing along to the acoustic track “I Want to Know Your Plans,” and three tracks off the bonus disc …Was a Real Boy were squeezed in right before the evening was capped off with the 6 minute rant on hipsters that is “Admit It!”

Bemis wasn’t shy throughout the night either, praising those with social anxiety for coming out to a show and giving even more credit to the people without social anxiety for listening to Say Anything in the first place.  “I won’t say you guys are the best crowd ever, because I say that at every show,” admitted Bemis as the night grew to a close. “I will say this though, I love this venue, I love New Jersey…” he paused, “and you know we’re coming back.” The crowd erupted.


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