Review Summary: Those looking for a true Bayside live gig are likely to be disappointed to some extent, yet this ‘Best Of’ compilation should keep listeners coming back to it more often than their individual LPs.
Although it may seem like it on occasions, support acts at live gigs are not just there to keep patrons mildly entertained while they spend a fortune on drinks. Those who often partake in the live music scene will undoubtedly have their own stories to tell regarding non-headlining bands that went from practically unknown to the person, into being a regular listen. For yours truly, one such band is Bayside. The New York quartet’s quirky brand of harder-edged pop-punk struck a chord and it helped that they were a strong live band.
Upon listening to their various studio releases, Bayside once more impressed. However, there was some disappointment concerning an inability to fill out their three full-length albums. The better tracks were strong, but their poorer cuts seemed like nothing but padded-out filler. Such performers will usually be more suited to a ‘Best Of’ compilation and when such a release comes in the form of a live album as it does here, then the results are almost certain to please.
Fans of the band as purely a live act should not be caught out though, as it may lead to disappointment. It is no accident that there is very little information regarding the recording contained within the liner notes. Only the front cover offers the following: “Recorded Live August-17 2008 New York City”. According to Wikipedia, the recording was actually made at a studio with the audience consisting solely of Fan Club members. There are up and downsides to this with the lack of hooting & hollering leaving the atmosphere a little sterile at times, but the fact that the audience know the songs inside-out means that they provide character to some tracks with what are practically backing vocals. Think of it as an intimate show similar to the MTV Unplugged series, but not unplugged.
What this gets back to is that the album is basically a ‘Best Of’ compilation. The sound and mixing is very clear, sending most cuts further towards their studio versions, rather than their true live sound. However, the best of both worlds approach is often advantageous, especially when concerning lead singer Anthony Raneri. There is usually a breaking-in period with Bayside due to Raneri’s vocals, but they sound smoother and more accessible here. This is a positive for new fans wanting to catch up on the best the band have to offer, before deciding on whether or not to purchase their fourth album ‘Shudder’, which was inexplicably released on the same day.
Musically speaking, the band is tighter than usual. This is especially the case concerning lead guitarist Jack O’Shea, who seems a little subdued and rarely cuts loose. Instead, he plays more of a team role so to speak and helps craft tight backing music along with the rhythm section of Nick Ghanbarian and Chris Guglielmo. If there is a downside to this, it is that the album comes off as a little too one-paced
And what of the setlist; Is it indeed Bayside’s “Best Of”? Well, it’s pretty darn close, even if it is too far skewed away from earlier releases. Contained on ‘…Social Club’ are six tracks each from the band’s self-titled LP and ‘The Walking Wounded’, as well as the highlight ‘Masterpiece’ from ‘Sirens And Condolences’. Another track from ‘S & C’ would not have hurt and neither would have ‘Loveless Wrists’ or ‘Cold and Blue and Lifeless’ from their early Name Taken split. And while the acoustic version of ‘Don’t Call Me Peanut’ on exhibition here is effective, it doesn’t come close to matching the amazing ‘Winter’ from the band’s prior acoustic release.
Ratings and opinions will wildly vary for ‘Live At The Bayside Social Club’ depending upon the perspective of the listener. Those expecting a fun, loose and gritty bar gig are likely to be disappointed to some extent. However, those looking for a nice summation of Bayside over the three year period of their first three full-length releases will be pleased with the collection of songs on offer here… A collection that should keep listeners coming back to it more often than their individual LPs. The fact that it has been recorded live is simply a bonus.
Recommended Tracks: Blame It On Bad Luck, Devotion and Desire, Masterpiece & Carry On.
I like some pop-punk... the usual suspects such as New Found Glory and The Starting Line, but it's not a genre I'm really interested in expanding on, if you know what I mean.
I liked the song "Time to Waste" (or something like that), but otherwise I never got into Alkaline Trio.
I said I would write a review for it lexicons, it was just a matter of when. I thought I would get in early so as not to let your "bitter resentment" seep into others. ;-)
There are very few reviews of this around the traps, but what I have seen are indeed mixed. I was reading Blunt magazine earlier today & they give it a 9/10, but I also saw someone rate it a 5/10 elsewhere.
Ta for the pos Adam. I don't think you'll grow out of this band as they aren't the typical pop-punk band at all. In fact, I'm not even sure they are pop-punk myself... I'd have them leaning more towards alt-rock now. It was just that their early stuff had some clear pop-punk traits. The emo genre is also thrown up, but that's more due to their very early songs.
And speaking of your lyrics, 'Masterpiece' may in fact be the song that really stands out on this album. Although it may just be because I hadn't heard it for a while and it gave me the opportunity to recall how great it was.
Does anyone know if they don't like to play 'Winter' live due to why it was written...??? That song sends chills down my spine.
I genuinely think they were originally more emo than anything else, but yeah, agreed about the genre issues. They seem to have a bit more about them than most pop-punk artists.
For ages, Masterpiece was all I'd heard of theirs, until I decided to investigate further and wasn't disappointed. It's not their best though.
About Winter, I don't know at all, but I do a lot of gigs and I reckon singing 'When winter falls next year, I'll be holding on to anything nailed down' would probably choke me up. Big time.
I also failed to mention in my review that I felt the album was a bit too front-loaded, but that may just be my more mainstream tilt on things. Actually, lexicons' review may seem to suggest otherwise.
It seems that lots of Bayside fans have their own mini-faves, like Adam proved with 'Choice Hops & Bottled Self-Esteem'.
You're not wrong on 'Winter' Adam. If that was played live, I'd almost be upset if everyone in the place didn't shut-up & just let it sink in.
lexicons, it's not because it is about death why you like that song, it's how well-written, real & emotional it is. Once someone knows the real-life tragedy behind it, I don't see how they cannot be affected by it.