To wrap up 2015, Taking Back Sunday held their second annual Holiday Spectacular at Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, New Jersey. With last year’s event being a huge success, selling out the 2500 person venue, this year’s shows were bound to be huge. The two-day event took place on Friday December 18 and Saturday the 19th. Not too far from home, the 5-piece rock band hails from Long Island, New York. Friday night’s show featured special guests Beach Slang and Modern Chemistry.
Day 2 got started early, as $5.00 got you a wristband to the 3-hour pop-up show which featured all sorts of local vendors, food trucks, pictures with Santa, and even an acoustic set. A crowd favorite seemed to be the homemade soda stand, which had a line that wrapped around the venue. Pork Rolls Truck, which was parked right outside, made sure everyone was stuffed and happy throughout the day, serving up their infamous pork sandwiches named after a handful of Taking Back Sunday’s songs, that warmed our belies and hearts. About two hours into the pop-up show, John Nolan and Adam Lazarra, 2 members of Taking Back Sunday, took the stage. The crowd cheered, and excitement filled the room. The duo laughed, sang, and took requests from the crowd. They even threw in a few holiday themed songs, including “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and “Jingle Bell Rock”. The 1-hour acoustic session gave fans a one of a kind, extremely intimate experience; at one point Adam even brought his kids on stage, which had everyone “awwing” and “oohing”. They finished off their acoustic set with their classic “Cute Without The E”, which got everybody energized for the full set later that evening.
7 PM came around, and the first band of the night, The Superweaks, hit the stage. The Philadelphia rock band was out supporting their first full-length record, Bad Year, which was released in April earlier this year. Alternating between pop sing-along tunes and alterative guitar riffs, their catchy performance offered something for everyone.
Frank Iero was up next, with his punk rock project Frnkiero Andthe Cellabration. A New Jersey native, Iero is best known for his previous role as a guitarist in My Chemical Romance, which broke up in 2013. Frnkiero Andthe Cellabration has one 12-song studio album out, Stomaches, released under Staple Records.
Alas, it was finally time for the much-awaited Taking Back Sunday to come on. The crowd roared as the guys walked on stage, which was embellished with white Christmas tree and enormous wrapped gifts. A thousand voices became one, chanting the lyrics along to the first song, “What’s It Feel Like to Be a Ghost”. The whopping 23 song set list consisted of a perfect balance of old and new songs, including favorites like “Number Five with a Bullet”, “A Decade Under the Influence”, and of course the beloved “MakeDamnSure”. Time flew by; at one point it was hard to tell who was having more fun: the concertgoers or the band.
Without a doubt, everyone had a blast at the second annual Holiday Spectacular, which once again proved to be a sensation. Hopefully a tradition in the making, if you couldn’t make it out this year, keep your eyes peeled and fingers crossed for a third round in 2016.