The Juliana Theory / Mae – Theatre Of Living Arts – Philadelphia, PA – 11/28/21

The beginning of the 2000’s was the best years for me to find music.  My search for new music was reading the liner notes in albums to see what bands were thanked, compilation albums were a huge part in discovering new bands, and then there was just going to shows with no idea how a band sounded and just judging based off their performance.  Itunes wasn’t really a thing yet and Napster didn’t start until about 2001. If you have a good internet connection your best bet was trying to listen to a band on, if the buffering constantly didn’t annoy you.  It was nothing like how it is today.  However, the time spent getting enough money to buy an album and then really taking it in by sitting in front of that 5 disc changing stereo and following along with the lyrics, I wouldn’t change for the world.  This is how albums became a part of me and how I connected with music.  Some albums even became part of monumental parts of my life.  Two albums that were staples in my growing up years were The Juliana Theory’s Emotion Is Dead and Mae’s The Everglow.  One album defined my high school years and the other defined my college years.  I’ve seen both bands play these albums in full on 10 year anniversary tours, but on November 28, 2021 seeing both bands play those albums on the same bill together brought back more nostalgia than I ever felt. 

Mae opened the show and before they got right into The Everglow, they performed “Bloom” a song from their 2011 album (e)vening.  After opening with “Bloom” the crowd heard a familiar voice walk them through what they are about to experience.  Once the piano driven song “We’re So Far Away” began, right away I was transported back to the first time I saw Mae, it was 2003 the lineup was Hidden In Plain View, Days Away, Mae, and The Starting Line in Allentown, PA.  Mae just signed with Tooth & Nail Records, only had an e.p. for sale at the merch table, and after seeing their performance I was a fan.  As they played through the album lead singer Dave Elkins would sometimes stop between songs to explain his gratitude to the audience or give a little background on a song like “Breakdown” which was actually about their old merch/roadie winning back his girlfriend.  As they progressed to the song “The Everglow” this is when memories started to come back to me.  When The Everglow was released I was about to graduate high school and head into college that same year.  I had no idea what the future held, let alone if college was even right for me.  I can say that the three songs “The Everglow”, “Ready And Waiting To Fall”, and “Anything” gave me strength to move past the uncertainty and not be afraid.  The lyrics to these three songs ooze positivity and hope.  Hearing them live again at 34 brought emotions back from my college years when I was scared of the future, the past and future relationships, finding love, and to making sense of everything.  I don’t think I could’ve done those four years without those songs or this album.  As Mae closed their set with “The Sun And The Moon”, everyone knew the album was coming to an end, but we all wished just one more song.  It is crazy to think that for a sophomore release a band took a chance on putting out a concept album.  However, Mae released an album that not only became one of their best-selling albums, but touched so many lives.  For me it was to get past the unknown and live, don’t think about what you can’t control, just know things will work out.  If you can’t make it an “Everglow” show, I urge you to sit and listen to this album front and back and enjoy the journey.

As Juliana Theory took the stage they instantly started Emotion Is Dead.  The Juliana Theory is a band that was ahead of their time.  When Emotion Is Dead came out, the album incorporated so many different elements into their music that they offered so much more than their peers.  This album found me when I just started high school and was just getting into independent artists.  Before this time my usual listening habits were bands like Green Day, The Offspring, Eve 6, Lit, Blink 182, pretty straight forward punk/pop punk whatever you want to call it.  I discovered Juliana Theory through seeing the name being thanked in many album credits.  On a whim at my local record store I bought their album and at first was like what is all this.  There are heavy songs, slow songs, pop songs, and even instrumental techno like songs.  However, the more I came back to the album the more I started realizing I like this and actually happy there is more than just power chords to these songs.  I owe the Juliana Theory to opening the doors to me to other music and that it always doesn’t have to be fast angsty anthems.   In fact, I think if it wasn’t for Juliana Theory I wouldn’t have ended up liking bands like the Get Up Kids, Dashboard Confessional, or Mae.  Emotion Is Dead should be an album that when you think of year 2000 music it should be on the list of most influential.  Once I discovered Juliana Theory I made sure I saw them every time they came through my area which was around Allentown, PA.  With them being Pennsylvania natives, I saw them many times and not only were their songs good, but their stage presence was top notch.  Fast forward 20 years to this show and I can say they still have a great stage presence especially during “To The Tune Of 5,000 Screaming Children” and “If I Told You This Was Killing Me, Would You Stop?”.  These are two songs that ignite excitement and I can’t imagine someone performing these songs by just standing there.  Like Mae, Juliana Theory didn’t spend too much time with banter, but Brett Detar did share a story about his hardcore roots and a time he attended an Earth Crisis show.  If you know Brett’s history you know this isn’t a surprise since he did spend some time in the band Zao.  Working their way through the album, when they got to “Something Isn’t Right Here” Brett and Joshua Fiedler performed as a duo.  The one thing that made this show great was both bands didn’t change anything about performing these albums.  They played them flawlessly and captured the sound perfectly as it sounds on the recording, even when it was just acoustic or instrumental.  The other thing that should be noted is Brett still has a great voice and the ending of “You Always Say Goodnight, Goodnight” is clear proof he can hold out those notes.  Once they finished playing Emotion Is Dead, the Juliana Theory took a quick minute to leave and then come back to play a few more songs.  The first song was a new song called “Can’t Go Home” which may sound different as a recording compared to their older songs, but played live fits perfectly.  Hearing this song live had a different tone than the recording, and I hope we get more new songs in the future.  The next song was “Do You Believe Me” from the album Love and then “We’re at The Top Of The World” which wasn’t played in the first part of the set.  I think this is because how much of fan favorite the song is and honestly I am glad that Juliana Theory play it, it really is a fun song to hear live.  I’ve only heard it live once before during the 10th Anniversary show of this album at the Trocadero, before that their old drummer Chip refused to play it for he didn’t like it.  The last song played was “Constellation” from Understand This Is A Dream, which was a great way to end the night, we even got to see Josh’s signature cartwheel with the guitar which I wasn’t expecting to see.  Sadly, nothing from Deadbeat Sweetheartbeat was played for Brett said he isn’t angry Brett anymore, which is a bummer, but everything else played was worth the wait since Juliana Theory hasn’t performed as a full band in years.  This tour was only a handful of dates, but after seeing both bands perform again after what felt like a decade, I hope the response fueled the fire for them to continue playing shows for years to come and keep releasing new music.

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