A few days back, the esteemed Garden Amphitheater in Garden Grove played host to Saosin’s momentous two-night, sold-out residency. These consecutive evenings served as a celebration, marking the 20th anniversary of the band’s first show and the release of their breakthrough EP – and frankly the most important EP of our generation – “Translating the Name.”
I was lucky enough to have attended the Sunday show, and after purchasing the limited edition “Translating the Name” vinyl, I found my way inside the venue.
As the sun slowly set, the intimate Orange County venue filled with eager fans. Amongst the crowd, a camera crew discreetly made their presence known. It was later revealed that the band had filmed and recorded both nights, with plans to release the audio and video at a later date.
To my pleasant surprise, there was no opening act for the shows. The members of Saosin took to the stage, and the anticipation of who would lead the band in those opening moments electrified the venue. The suspense was quickly displaced as the delay-heavy opening guitar riff of “It’s Far Better to Learn” began emanating from the overhead speakers.
Ex-singer Cove Reber, who voiced the band’s debut self-titled full-length album, quickly took to the stage and a hundred phones shot into the air to record this amazing moment.
As Reber delved into the opening lyrics of “You’d better learn that this will not blow over and over,” chills ran down my spine, evoking a profound sense of nostalgia.
“Ready for Saosin to open for Saosin?” Reber jokingly asked the audience before the band quickly jumped into the hauntingly beautiful, yet chaotic intro to “Sleepers.” A mosh pit ignited on the floor, and an infectious energy coursed through the entire venue within seconds.
Leading into the next song, Reber encouraged the crowd to help sing-along with him during a specific high note. Guitarist Beau Burchell volunteered to take the vocal reins during that moment, and he would go on to perform that it amazingly well. If you haven’t heard Burchell sing before, his voice can sometimes be nearly indistinguishable from Reber or current Saosin front-man, Anthony Green. The crowd erupted as Reber cued the band for “Voices,” and the band’s most popular song (arguably) was met with a hundred cellphones, filming that fleeting legendary moment.
The band continued their “Cove” set with “Finding Home,” “Bury Your Head,” and a couple of cover songs: “Pitiful” by Blindside and “Zero” by Smashing Pumpkins. Before bidding farewell to Reber, they closed out with one last song from the self-titled album, “You’re Not Alone.”
The band came prepared with an arsenal of cover songs. Between Reber saying his farewells, and vocalist Anthony Green finally coming to the stage, the band worked in some awesome covers of “Lucky Denver Mint” by Jimmy Eat World, and “In Your Eyes” by Open Hand, a band that Burchell and drummer Alex Rodriguez were both in. For the Open Hand cover, the band brought out the original Saosin bass player, Zach Kennedy, creating another memorable moment.
Bassist Chris Sorenson jokingly booted the band members from the stage moments before singer Anthony Green crept out from the shadows of the curtains that lay at the back of the stage. With the stage nearly empty, Green and Sorenson delivered a breathtaking rendition of Björk’s “Unravel,” under a blanket of purple ambient lighting.
With what I assumed was all the cover songs for the evening behind us, the rest of the band returned to the stage before jumping into another cover, “Seven” by Sunny Day Real Estate. Guess I was wrong. The band then went into “Pattern Against User” by At the Drive-In, and “The Moon is Down” by Further Seems Forever before finally arriving at an original Anthony Green-voiced song, “Silver String.” The immediately recognizable drum-fill intro cued the crowd surfers and eventual stage-divers.
After reaching an energetic climax in the set, the band reminisced about their first show 20 years ago at the now-defunct Showcase Theatre, a venue where I had the pleasure of experiencing one of my very first concerts.
“This is the first song we wrote while you were in California,” Sorenson announced to Green before launching into one of my all-time favorite Saosin songs, “I Can Tell…”
Following that high point, they graced us with “Racing Toward a Red Light,” undeniably the catchiest song from their latest full-length album, “Along the Shadow.”
Prior to the next chunk in the set, the band again brought original Saosin bass player Zach Kennedy out to the stage. These were the first shows performing with the band in 20 years and it was interesting to watch the onstage chemistry between band members. Sorenson exited the stage and left the bass duties to Kennedy for the next few songs. That familiar, single hi-hat, snare, tom hit intro surprised the crowd as the band jumped into “Seven Years.” The moment caught me and many others off guard as the song is usually reserved for encores. The band would later make it known that these nights were the first time(s) the album had ever been performed in order of the EP track-listing.
Having just spoiled the rest of the set, I can safely conclude this review by telling you they did exactly what I just mentioned to close out the night, and they did it spectacularly.