When I learned the band Saosin had finally pressed their 2003 debut EP, “Translating the Name,” on vinyl and were only making said vinyl available at a small string of shows, I knew I had to attend one of their two nights at The Garden Amp.
As I arrived, I saw a line of a hundred or so people growing inside the venue, all patiently waiting for their chance to buy some Saosin merch, or more specifically, “Translating the Name” on vinyl. I found my way to the back of the queue and began what would turn out to be a 40-minute journey to the front of the merch line. The opening band, J.R. Slayer, hit the stage and I was still nowhere near the merch table. I looked around the sold-out venue and began to notice just how many people had already picked up a copy of the vinyl and started to worry that I may have arrived too late.
Garden Grove, California
October 28, 2022
The musical stylings of J.R. Slayer reverberated off the brightly painted walls throughout the venue and I momentarily, and riskily, left my place in line to snap a couple of photos of them. The band features singer Cody Votolato of the early 2000s art-punk act The Blood Brothers. It’s difficult to describe J.R. Slayer, but if I had to get oddly specific, I would say they sound like the Ramones brought in a keyboard/synth player and replaced Joey with Mike Schultz of Cage the Elephant (or Cody Votolato of The Blood Brothers). I was surprised to see how few views the band has on YouTube, however I’m willing to bet they will soon be on everyone’s radar.
Just as J.R. Slayer’s set had come to an end, I had finally made it to the front of Saosin’s merch line. I was able to get one of the two variants the band pressed of “Translating the Name” and I quickly secured it inside the cardboard sleeve that I had been carrying with me. Variants were random (either silver or translucent green) and they were limiting vinyl purchases to one per person.
Back inside the venue, Dead American had taken to the stage right on schedule. For those that are unfamiliar with Saosin’s history, Dead American singer Cove Reber replaced Anthony Green in Saosin when Green had initially left the band in 2004. Reber kept the crowd entertained with a few anecdotes and jokes while some technical issues were sorted out.
Starting the set off with their song “Vertigo” from their 2022 full-length “New Nostalgia,” Dead American came out swinging.
There was so much energy packed into the first few minutes of the set, I just watched on in awe. The second song was one of my favorites from the band, “Grown So Cold.” The song “Grown So Cold” seems to draw influences from nearly all my favorite genres as it sways back and forth between a triplet-heavy chorus and skate punk-influenced verses.
Hearing and seeing Reber in Dead American after fanatically falling in love with Saosin’s 2006 self-titled full-length was such an awesome experience and it makes me happy to see him making music again. The band powered through a total of 11 songs including “Not Buying In,” “Anything Different,” and “Choke” before ending their set with “Wandering.”
As I stood staring at the enormous Saosin backdrop that had adorned the back of the stage from the beginning of the show, I began to hear grumbles around me that the merch booth had completely sold out of the “Translating the Name” vinyl. I would later read stories online from people that had driven hours in hopes of getting one, but ended up arriving too late.
The stage lights dimmed and a deafening vibration began resonating through the house speakers. A prerecorded robotic voice, which bled through the vibrations, began pronouncing “Saosin” in different ways followed by an inaudible dialogue which I presumed to be singer Anthony Green’s voice. The band entered the stage dressed in their normal attire except Green, who was wearing a Hawkins High School cheerleader costume and wig.
The intro track came to a halt and the band jumped right into “Lost Symphonies.” A hundred hands and phones shot into the air to capture the beginning of the set and that thunderous intro. “Replace the occasion to speak” are the opening lyrics that nearly every person in the room was screaming back at Green as he stood at the very front of the stage, tempting fans to crowd surf toward him. An amazingly memorable and high-energy way to start things off.
“Racing Toward a Red Light,” “Silver String,” and “Count Back From TEN,” off their 2016 full-length “Along the Shadow” were next in the set. Though I suspect much of the audience wasn’t as familiar with the band’s latest material as their older songs, the energy level did not dip.
“3rd Measurement in C” was next in the set, which instantly put the crowd into a frenzy as the band jumped into it without warning. The sing-along and crowd participation of “Don’t say that I’m the one you want to lose” as Green aimed the microphone toward the sea of faces and extended arms was awe-inspiring.
While sprinkling in a few more songs off of “Along the Shadow” throughout the night, the band also performed the cult classics “I Can Tell There Was an Accident Here Earlier” and “Mookie’s Last Christmas” which were extremely well-received.
As expected, all five tracks from “Translating the Name” made their way into the setlist and the night would inevitably end with the band’s most popular song, “Seven Years.” I was a bit saddened that Cove Reber hadn’t joined Saosin onstage to perform any of the wildly popular tracks off the 2006 album; however it was still an amazing night.