concert reviews

Anberlin at 9:30: Amateur Enthusiam, Skilled Smoothness
Anberlin, Bayside, Meg & Dia, and Jonezetta at the 9:30 Club, Washington, DC, Friday 23 February 2007

Given the sold-out crowd's constant bouncing and loud singing at the 9:30 club Friday night, it was hard to believe that this was the first headlining tour for the Florida emo quintet Anberlin.

With a smooth hour-long set, the group didn't exactly act like amateurs, enthusiasm notwithstanding. Just before the encore, singer Stephen Christian gushed, "This has been one of the best shows of our life!"

But even that seemed believable: Christian's boundless energy and the group's playing fed the audience's fervor with a mix of pounding rhythms and introspective lyrics.

From the loneliness of "Hello Alone" ("This is the end of everything I am / Is anybody out there?") to the despair buried within "(*Fin)" ("Aren't we all to you just lost causes?"), the group's songs conveyed generic post-adolescent angst with Christian's anguished roar.

The three opening acts all shared Anberlin's intensity. Particularly enchanting were Meg and Dia Frampton, performing under the name Meg & Dia. While Dia's waiflike voice (like an ardent Dolores O'Riordan) was often lost in the mix behind her band, she projected passion without the over-earnestness that plagued fellow openers Bayside and Jonezetta.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post, 26 February 2007; Page C04
.: Selected discography: Cities (Anberlin, 2007); Never Take Friendship Personal (Anberlin, 2005); Blueprints for the Black Market (Anberlin, 2003); Something Real (Meg & Dia, 2006).