Chris Phelps
FRIDAY 7/5

SAY ANYTHING, EISLEY, H RV RD, I THE MIGHTY

I want to write that Max Bemis should go down as the best teenage pop-punk songwriter of all time, and that you ought to see Bemis's band, Say Anything, play tonight as they tour in support of All My Friends Are Enemies, a remastered collection of his earliest recordings. I want to grab you by the collar, underage reader, and insist that you'll connect with (and be consoled by) the songs this guy made between the ages of 17 and 20.

These songs were originally recorded from 2000 to 2003, practically a generation removed from you, and I don't know if they still resonate. If you're not a sensitive, angry, or thoughtful kid whose biggest anxieties are about college and whether someone wants to kiss you or not, these songs might say nothing to you about your life. And by hyping up this era-specific collection, I have to also acknowledge that after 2004's ...Is a Real Boy, the albums Bemis has released are not what I can conscionably call "good music." Say Anything are often embarrassing and cringe-worthy, with later records consisting almost entirely of self-righteous indignation. I find Bemis's music from this initial period to be more forgivable because it's so clearly influenced by the trying-to-be-cool posturing that comes with wanting to both stand out and fit in amid people you think are hipper than you.

Bemis wrote prodigiously about how being a teenager means every decision you make is life-altering—from who your friends are to where you go to school—and sang purely and recklessly about the kind of love that's only possible when you're young and immune to permanent injury. He can ask someone, "Whatever happened to the rock and roll in your eyes?" without qualification. It's a question that I wish I asked myself more often. Showbox at the Market, 8 pm, $17 adv/$20 DOS.