Live: Take Action Tour

Take Action Tour pic #2
Mayday Parade. Photo by Dre Giles.

HOUSE OF BLUES -- 2/15/2010: I was sweating.
I had pulled duty as Space City Rock representative at the Take Action Tour as it pulled into House of Blues one recent Monday night. The Take Action Tour is the signature event of Sub City Records, which since its inception in 1999 has raised close to two million dollars for non-profit organizations by bringing bands and their young fans together in the spirit of activism.
This year, the tour teamed up with a great cause in Driving For Donors, which signs people up to the Marrow Donor Registry and in no small way actually saves lives. Regardless of the cool activism angle, though, the best way to describe my mood heading into the concert that night was terror.
The tour's lineup included a monster list of pop-punk bands, including There for Tomorrow, Mayday Parade, and We The Kings. I'm not the most rabid connoisseur of pop-anything and not knowing much about these bands, I immediately envisioned Backstreet Boys with guitars playing to throngs of prepubescent and teenage kids. I'm an older guy who likes hanging out at dive bars; what the hell was I going to look like, me, at a pop-rock concert? Uncomfortable, to say the least. Then, when I'm at the ticket booth to get my press pass, a young, bubbly princess asks me if I'm excited to see the show. Excited to see the what? Are you even 18? You shouldn't even be talking to me. Nevertheless, I pulled myself together and went inside.
It was barely seven o'clock and there were hundreds upon hundreds of kids there. I walked in as There for Tomorrow was playing. These guys are from Orlando, Florida, but they had clean California fashion and New Jersey haircuts. ĘSinger Maika Maile had a light Jared Leto lilt to his voice, and they hit every note dead-on, jumped when they were supposed to, and not a lick of hair was out of place. Every kid in the audience was hanging to their every word.
Take Action Tour pic #3
Mayday Parade. Photo by Dre Giles.

Next up was A Rocket To The Moon, who lit up the stage with much more twang to their sound: twangy guitars and a more bluesy twist. They even dared to venture into a few guitar solos, something I didn't even know existed in pop-rock. I don't know when it happened, but I started to get pulled into the flow of the show.
Maybe it was the energy of the crowd, a wave of bodies pulsating to the melodic songs, or maybe it was the showmanship of these young guys on stage, telling these simple stories of relationships and sunshine and flashing these disarming smiles. I lost my self-consciousness. Nobody cared that I was there; it was just the band, the songs, the hands stretching impossibly to the stage, and all these screaming voices.
By the time Mayday Parade hit the stage I was in a completely different frame of mind. I was having to push kids out the way so I could get a decent spot in front of the stage. The crowd had surged to over a thousand people by that point, and a few kids had to be pulled out of the pit by security, exhausted from the heat and the crush of people but still exhilarated. Mayday Parade has a cool drum kit -- Jake Bundrick plays this Holstein cow black-and-white enamel kit with gold teardrop emblems; just felt like mentioning that. The band ripped the stage, slanging guitars and throwing microphones. These guys are so cool that someone hit singer Derek Sanders in the eye with a plastic cup, and he calmly declared, "That's not cool, dude," before launching into the next song. Not many people can take a cup to the face and make it look suave.
Take Action Tour pic #4
Mayday Parade. Photo by Dre Giles.

We The Kings ended the show, and I crown them the Tom Sawyer of pop rock. Travis Clark came out looking like he had just hopped off a train after hobo-ing across half the country. He had on a dirty white tee with a rustic jacket straight out of the Civil War and no shoes, and his hair was this massive red mess of chaos. Then the music started, and he morphed into this savvy entertainer, mixing in raunchy stories between songs, transitioning from guitar to piano, and keeping the audience involved, and the band killed it with an awesome rendition of Jimmy Eat World's "The Middle."
At the end of the show, I was completely surprised that I was so thoroughly entertained. I was also impressed that the young people there weren't there just to see a show; they were signing up for the Bone Marrow Registry and actively changing people's lives. I wasn't moving that much -- if anyone was there that I knew, I didn't want them to think I was having a good time. Regardless, maybe it was the massive amount of people there, maybe it was poor ventilation, maybe I was dancing just a little, but as I left I noticed one thing.
I was sweating. END