To quote Buddy Nielsen directly, Saturday at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ was a “special fucking night.” The crowd cheered and applauded without fail each time the IHOP advertisement made its rounds on the screens across the venue, and sang along to the songs playing on the house speakers between sets. A good indication of the people in attendance, the atmosphere the fans created set my expectations high for when the bands take the stage.
Opening for Senses Fail were Have Mercy, Household, and Reggie and the Full Effect, all of which were spectacular performances for the event. Brian Swindle of Have Mercy remarked “Something about this place man, gets me nervous,” while reminiscing of the last time they played at Starland with Taking Back Sunday. Those performances alone would have made for an amazing night, but they’re not what made it special.
Playing in their home state, Senses Fail put on a show to remember. Buddy Nielsen took a moment after the first few songs to speak candidly with the crowd. He touched on his struggle with anxiety and depression in the past, and reminded the audience that’s what these songs are about. He talked about how our generation was handed a recession, cycle of debt, have a need for a college education, yet there’s no jobs to pay that debt, and how we’re told we’re lazy and stupid and everything has been handed to us. To a crowd of millennials, they were well primed for an anticipated performance of “Gold Jacket Green Jacket.”
Later on, repeating how special it was for them to be on stage, Buddy told how the first concert he attended was at Starland, joking how he now knows what backstage looks like. He told of his first song they ever wrote, played at a skate park, but never for a crowd this big.
By this point in the night, crowd surfers were flying into the air as quickly as they fell into security at the front of the stage. Ending their set, a chant of “ONE MORE SONG” quickly began to spread through the crowded venue. Back for an encore, Buddy said this song is about how even though at times life may feel meaningless, you have to live the life you have, and with the opening drums and guitar riff of “Can’t Be Saved,” the energy from the crowd exploded beyond what seemed possible.
The night truly was special for a number of reasons, and is not one I will soon forget. If you have the chance to see any of their other tour dates, (listed below) I couldn’t recommend it enough.