Anberlin: The Final Tour
Anberlin, Mike Herrera
November 12th, 2014.
I’m still having a bit of difficulty with starting this off, so I’m just going to start, and we’ll see where it goes from there.
I was a junior in high school when New Surrender was released. And I remember having my mother drive me to Wal-Mart that Tuesday so I could pick up my copy. I also remember that, up to this point, I had only ever purchased two albums from Wal-Mart (because my older brother had always warned me against doing so because of how harmful it was to artists etc. etc.) The first was Linkin Park’s Reanimation when I was eleven with some of my birthday money, and the other was when I found a copy of Ludo’s You’re Awful, I Love You in the $5 bin. BUT, to get back to my point, I bought New Surrender from Wal-Mart because the sticker said it came with bonus tracks. Which I obviously wanted. I’m only human.
Wednesday morning, as I woke up and packed up my camera bag and threw together an outfit, I packed that copy, along with a few others, into my bag for the ride into Boston. About a three-hour drive from my house to the House of Blues, it would have been a bit of an insult to not include it. After a trip down the MassPike, which doubled as a Cities/NS-soundtracked trip down Memory Lane, I parked and made my way over to Lansdowne Street. And an hour and a half before doors opened, the line stretched the entirety of the street, packed with fans whose love ranged from a decade old to those who were Lowborn newborns. The pair of girls standing behind me were one of each – the one on the right unsure if she should have come, worried that she wouldn’t know how to participate, with her friend assuring her that she’d be treated to a show she wouldn’t regret. I strongly sided with the latter.
So, to quickly retreat to my earlier rambling, for about a decade or so, there’s been a place in my heart for Anberlin. I won’t go as far as saying that they’ve been amongst my list of my diehard favorite bands, but they have always been in the top tier of artists. They were a band you rarely heard a bad word about. Their music was always consistently better than most, their live show was dominant and powerful, and, as I was lucky enough to find out last fall, they’re extremely nice guys, which is always a plus. And even now, on their way out, they leave on top.
The pair of opening acts, USA USA USA and Mike Herrera, were as varied as you could get. As this tour drew nearer and nearer, the openers started getting announced. A few shows (enviously) had Copeland as support, but aside from those nights, I didn’t see any openers listed for other nights, including this show. So, as the lights dimmed and I walked into the photo pit, preparing myself both emotionally and equipment-wise, I was a bit puzzled when only four people came onstage. Turns out there was support for the show, and it was treacherous. The first band, the aforementioned USA USA USA, was a very peculiar choice. In most aspects, they varied greatly from Anberlin – music style, performance, stage presence, and so on. Each song, including a cheap cover of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” was a hormone-soaked homage to various women, with every break between filled with constant attempts to (I quote) “serenade and seduce” the females in attendance. Though their set only clocked in at around 25-30 minutes, it was a torturous chunk of time to sit through – not only having to sit through an opener when you had believed that there wouldn’t be one, but to be subjected to one of this caliber. It was unexpected, odd, a bit uncomfortable and borderline creepy.
Luckily, the second surprise opener swiftly erased all of that. Mike Herrera, of MxPx fame, played a short acoustic set before Anberlin took the stage. Casual and playful, Herrera poked fun at himself a few times rather than taking himself too seriously, which proved a fatal error for the previous act. He jokingly apologized for being there, saying that even if he wasn’t playing, Anberlin still wouldn’t be onstage until 9:00 anyway. He focused on playing music rather than making a spectacle out of it. Though he did pause to talk to the crowd, his stories were short and upbeat and playful. He left the stage with a gracious “thank you” and a wave, rebuilding the energy in the room as the lights came back up.
So I’m aware that we’re pretty far into this and I haven’t even talked about Anberlin performing yet, and I’m pretty sorry for that. But, if you stuck it out this far, I appreciate it. Anyway.
At a little past 9:15, the chants started to grow while the crowd started pushing closer to the barricade. AN-BER-LIN, AN-BER-LIN, AN-BER-LIN. The room fell dark and the stage glowed blue. The band strolled on to the stage, with Christian following close behind. The end of the band became irrelevant for the next hour, because for the next hour, they were still there.
Much like they have been doing recently, there wasn’t much attention paid to Lowborn on Wednesday. The album’s introductory track “We Are Destroyer” was the only song from the album that found its way into the setlist, and it came relatively early on. Cities was the highest-represented, taking up 4 of the last 6 songs, including a gorgeous encore of (*Fin) that left the room in awe.
On a night packed with highlights, the band still managed to outdo themselves during “Godspeed,” “Breaking,” and a soft rendition of “The Unwinding Cable Car.” Early on, Christian found himself diving into the audience during “Paperthin Hymn,” only the third song of the night. “The Resistance” dipped in to the heavier side of the group’s catalog, while closer “Feel Good Drag” left fans voiceless. It was near the end of the night, during “Dismantle.Repair.,” when the band delivered arguably their best performance. After a handful of their fastest, loudest songs, bringing the show to a close with the 9-minute (*Fin) was not only a chance to catch our collective breath, but it was a way to say goodbye with one of the longest, biggest, most atmospheric and ambitious songs of Anberlin’s career.
I have been thinking about this write-up thing for a long time. Now, even with six months’ worth of warning, it still took me actually being there to come up with something. When the tour was first announced, I knew that it was going to be something different. I’ve seen plenty of bands who aren’t together anymore. But, it was always one of a couple of scenarios – sometimes it was a band I had never seen, which left me bothered that I missed out. Or it was a band I had seen, and called it quits later on, leaving me glad that I saw them when I had the chance. The splits were always announced after I had seen them, so I was always left with the feeling of “oh, well at least I saw them beforehand” rather than the anxious “this is the last I am seeing them” feeling that the farewell tour brought.
But, despite the uneasiness that came with the announcement of the group’s mortality, there was a sense of mutual understanding within the room throughout the evening. There was an endtime, and each person there knew it. The fans savored every second of the band’s set, channeling the mixed emotions of the evening to sing back each word with watery eyes and sore voices. Meanwhile, the band chose to speak sparingly. Addressing the audience at quick intervals throughout, it was clear the devotion and respect the fans gave were reciprocated and thorough. They made sure their thanks were brief, using their time to give the crowd everything they could, one last time.
We’ll miss you, Anberlin.
– Never Take Friendship Personal
– We Owe This to Ourselves
– Paperthin Hymn
– Glass to the Arson
– We Are Destroyer
– Someone Anyone
– Other Side
– (The Symphony of) Blasé
– Take Me (As You Found Me)
– The Unwinding Cable Car
– A Day Late
– The Resistance
– Feel Good Drag
Written by Eric Riley