In the fall of 2016, pop-punk/post-hardcore band Senses Fail announced their Quince Años Tour to celebrate 15 years as a band and the 10-year anniversary of their second studio album Still Searching. The band played the album in its entirety, as well as a few other songs from their discography.
I personally had very little knowledge of Senses Fail until I saw them open for Sum 41’s Don’t Call It A Sum-Back Tour last fall. I honestly did not know any of their songs except one, but many concert-enthusiasts have at least one experience where even though you may not know any of the opening band’s songs, their performance stands out enough to gain your attention and motivate you to check out the rest of their music. For me, that band was Senses Fail. Not only was it the high energy they instilled upon the audience despite the fact they weren’t even the headlining act, but I also quickly realized how upbeat and catchy a majority of their music is. Longer story short, within less than a week, I quickly fell in love with their album Still Searching, for this concept album told the story of a man struggling with his faith, heartbreak, and depression, resulting in alcoholism and experimentation with drugs. With its heavy instrumentals and strong, personal lyrical content, this brilliantly-crafted album quickly became one of my top five favorite albums of all time.
On March 28, 2017, the Quince Años Tour came to Concord Music Hall in Chicago, Illinois. Supporting acts included bands Like Pacific, Movements, and Counterparts. Playing a majority of the songs from their new and very first full-length studio album Distant Like You Asked, Like Pacific is a pop punk band originating from Toronto, Canada. While the crowd was unfamiliar with them, the band still performed with high energy and closed off their set with a short hard rock/metal-esque outro to motivate the crowd to finally start a mosh pit after numerous (failed) attempts. Furthermore, Movements brought a lot of excitement to the crowd. While I personally found a majority of their set a little too slow, musically I thought they sounded great. Finally, the last supporting act before Senses Fail took stage, Counterparts was by far the heaviest band that played that night. With mosh pits during almost every song, this band definitely knew how to get the crowd ready for Senses Fail.
Before we knew it, the show finally began. Everyone in the crowd immediately chimed in with vocalist Buddy Nielsen as “The Rapture,” the first track from Still Searching, began to play. This song is personally one of my favorites from the entire album because it focuses on losing faith, something I myself have gone through in the past. Following, were songs “Bonecrusher” and “Sick or Sane (Fifty for a Twenty,) both referring to drug experimentation and casual sex to help numb the pain.
The fourth song of both the album and the set list was “Can’t Be Saved,” one of Senses Fail’s most popular songs to date and the most notable track from the entire album due to its famous lyric, “follow your bliss.” It’s all about realizing that you have done far too much damage and it feels like it’s too late to turn back now. You can’t rely on anyone else and really the only person who can save you is yourself.
Following “Can’t Be Saved” is “Calling All Cars,” my favorite Senses Fail song of all time. Not only is it extremely catchy, but it also serves as a cry for help. Then, right as “Shark Attack” began to play, the biggest mosh pit of the night broke out, perfectly representing exactly that: a shark attack.
The next song was the title-track, “Still Searching,” probably the heaviest song from the entire album, but also one of my favorites, followed by songs “To All The Crowded Rooms” and “Lost And Found.” The track, “Everyday Is A Struggle,” is also one of my favorites. All about heartbreak, it was definitely another song where everyone in the crowd had absolutely no problem with shouting the lyrics at the top of their lungs.
The next song, “All The Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues,” tells the part of the story where the central character finally manages to take his own life. This song is then followed by the interlude, “Negative Space,” to resemble the character transitioning to the afterlife, only to end up refusing spiritual help in the closing track, “The Priest And The Matador.” Perhaps what makes this particular song a fan-favorite is when everyone gets to scream the lyric, “Please get the fuck away.” Lastly, to close out the Still Searching set, the band also performed two songs from the extended version of the album: “Stretch Your Legs to Coffin Length” and “Mason’s Revenge.”
While the set for Still Searching was finished, that didn’t mean the show itself was over quite yet. The band played an encore of five songs from the rest of their discography, the first being “Family Tradition” from third studio album Life Is Not A Waiting Room. Inspired by Buddy’s lack of relationship with his father and family relationship dysfunction, Buddy was also proud to share that he had recently forgiven his father for not being there for most of his life. Following “Family Tradition” was “Jets To Peru” from Senses Fail’s brand new acoustic EP, In Your Absence. Although the excitement among the crowd was honestly 50/50, what I enjoyed most about their performance of this song is that they actually played a plugged-in version, rather than the original acoustic.
Next was all-time hit and fan-favorite, “Buried A Lie.” This track from debut full-length Let It Enfold You is one of my favorite Senses Fail songs of all time. Back when they played it for their Don’t Call It A Sum-Back Tour set, even though I didn’t know the song at the time, it stood out to me because of the crowd’s enthusiasm for it.
The second to last song was another all-time favorite, “Blackout,” also from Life Is Not A Waiting Room. Clearly about dealing with a break up, this song starts out incredibly upbeat, despite the fact that it all about heart break and wanting to just “black out” so you would no longer feel the pain. With a theme that many can relate to at some point in life, “Blackout” still contains some of Senses Fail’s best lyrical content to date.
Alas, it was time for the last song of the night: all-time hit “Bite To Break Skin.” This is another song that also stood out to me when I saw Senses Fail perform in the previous fall. It is honestly probably the short screaming backing vocals during the verses that make this song so fun to sing along to, as well as its catchy chorus.
Considering the fact that I haven’t been a fan for even a year, it felt like a miracle to be able to see one of my favorite albums of all time performed in its entirety. While I will admit that Buddy was a little difficult to hear during certain songs, there was not a moment of bore during Senses Fail’s performance, and they are definitely a band I plan on seeing again in the future.