"Hello, my name's Emma, and I'm in a cult"
Nine years later and I still can't get enough Bayside
Jack O’Shea’s wailing guitar solo filled the open dance floor of Club Infinity and lights flashed red and gold across the stage as my fellow cult members head banged, fist pumped and two-stepped along to his hard rhythmic sound.
Everything went black.
The stage lights went out and the power to the band’s monitors were cut.
In the midst of a crowd of sweaty dancers, the sudden ending of the set was jarring. Attendees were forced to leave the venue and pile outside in the parking lot. Everyone stood around, slightly dazed with their ears still ringing and wondering whether or not the show would start back up. Or, if O’Shea would at least be able to finish his solo in “Devotion and Desire.”
Some people gathered around the massive black and brown tour bus stationed outside while others swore about missing the final band of the night, Silverstein. It seemed they wouldn’t be able to go on at all.
Rumors flew – somebody got punched in the face; some girl broke her leg; the venue was overcrowded and the cops came.
That was four years ago. It was the day after my 18th birthday and the second time that I got to see my favorite band, Bayside, perform live. A year before, I stood in line at their merchandise table at Warped Tour for the meet-and-greet before their set.
Two years ago, I turned 20 and saw Bayside the day of my birthday in Rochester. Wednesday night marked my fourth time dancing and singing along with Anthony Raneri, Jack O’Shea, Nick Ghanbarian and Chris Guglielmo in person.
What’s awesome about music is that we all belong to at least one cult. What musician are you passionate about? What band do you have on repeat when you’re getting ready for a night out? That’s your cult.
But Bayside’s different.
Bayside’s newest album is entitled Cult and musically encompasses Bayside’s sound that has remained relatively the same since the band’s founding in 2000. The symbols on the album cover represent each album Bayside has produced in the past 14 years, according to the band’s website.
During Bayside’s set at the Waiting Room Wednesday, as I danced among an even larger and sweatier crowd than at Club Infinity, it was clear that Bayside wasn’t wrong when they thought Cult aptly described the band’s following.
The entire show, which lasted for more than an hour, was a venue-wide sing along. A circle pit opened immediately as the first chords of “Pigsty” rang out. From “Popular Scientist,” to “Boy,” to “Duality,” to “Already Gone,” to “Mona Lisa” and “Masterpiece,” Bayside transitioned seamlessly between older songs and ones only a few years old. The audience did the same.
We were all singing, pumping our fists in the air and dancing as O’Shea’s sweat-soaked hair covered his face and Ghanbarian stood on the edge of the stage, a smile stretched across his face.
When I was in seventh grade my sister played Bayside for me – she had burned discs of their self-titled album and Sirens and Condolences. I immediately burned them for myself.
Since then, Bayside has been the music I turn to whenever I know I need it. Although Pandora insists on calling Bayside “emo,” even the most depressed or cynical Bayside lyrics are immensely uplifting.
“They Look Like Strong Hands” has always been my favorite Bayside song and for the past few years I’ve been dreaming about a tattoo in honor of it.
“I’m not larger than life,” Raneri sings. “I’m not taller than trees.”
In “Stuttering,” a song off Cult, Raneri sings about being the “voice for the depressed.”
Maybe, but last night, we are all too freaking happy.
After a short break, Bayside came back on stage for a final song. How fitting they would choose “Devotion and Desire,” the song that got cut off in the middle four years ago, the last time they performed in Buffalo.
“People always ask me what’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened at a show,” Raneri said to the audience. “Tomorrow, I want it to be whatever happens in the last three minutes here.”
As the pit grew larger and the singing got louder, I knew I was part of the cult that I want to belong to. Buffalo’s chapter of the Bayside cult is intensely passionate.
Nobody just ‘likes’ Bayside – you’re either in the cult, or you’re not.
Please don’t try and talk me out of it. I’ll be in this cult for the rest of my life.