SAN FRANCISCO — It had been 18 years since I watched the New Jersey band Saves The Day at The Chance in Poughkeepsie, New York with Dashboard Confessional. Since then, Dashboard exploded, leaving Saves The Day with a revolving door of band members. Gradually, like the rest of us, the band got older. But you wouldn’t know it when Saves The Day took the stage Wednesday night at Slim’s. The veteran influential punk rockers dove right into their extensive catalog of self-aware, self-deprecating songs.
With a foundation in straight-forward New Jersey hardcore punk, Saves The Day reflected a darker, more vulnerable approach to emo with its set—primarily the honesty of Weezer and the immediacy of Lifetime. Wednesday’s show also highlighted the band’s continued triumph as aging musicians with a solid legacy. The audience was a mish-mash of 30-somethings who grew up belting out the songs on long car rides and youthful fans who more than likely found out about them from a Modern Baseball “similar artists” playlist on Spotify.
Save The Day’s set didn’t feature many songs from 1998 debut Can’t Slow Down. Perhaps the band outgrew the album personally or stylistically. However, the band still embraced its classics by opening with crowd favorite “At Your Funeral,” from 2001’s Stay What You Are—not before having to break up a fight in the crowd. The band also played several songs from sophomore 1999 LP Through Being Cool. Songs like “Rocks Tonic Juice Magic” and “The Last Lie I Told” dripped with nostalgic passion.
Saves The Day didn’t neglect the albums that followed Stay What You Are, and paid special attention to 2018’s 9. Songs like “Suzuki” and “Kerouac & Cassady” were dedicated to fans who have stuck with the band through its storied career. Lead singer Chris Conley commanded the stage with a solid Axel Rose mullet and Blues Brother sunglasses, a serious departure from his 2001 pop-punk look.
“Holly Hox, Forget Me Nots” enticed fans to start a mosh pit in a celebration of the tunes that provided the 1990s and 2000s emo kids with a catharsis for adolescent frustration. The band polished off a few more songs from 2003’s In Reverie, 2006’s Sound The Alarm, 2011’s Daybreak and 2013 self-titled album. But it was closer “Firefly” that sealed this show as a memorable career-spanning experience.
Atlanta pop-punk band MIGHTY opened the concert with a set of Jawbreaker-inspired lyricism and stop-and-go rhythms that recalled Say Anything. Singer Angelo Fiaretti delivered his very personal lyrics behind a mop of hair.
Remo Drive came next, emerging with a welcome burst of energy. It’s no wonder Saves The Day chose them as an opener considering their off-kilter yet optimistic vibe. The band spotlighted its influence from Saves The Day, along with Get Up Kids and Weezer.
“Thanks for giving that energy, that’s super dope!” lead singer Erik Paulson said, adding that he had to rush back to the venue after doing some emergency laundry. The band played songs mostly off its catchy 2017 album, Greatest Hits, but also introduced newer songs like “2 Bucks” and “Mirror.”