by Matt Kelchner
It has been a long time since the Lawrence, Kansas five piece act The Anniversary played in Philadelphia. Midway through their set Friday night at Underground Arts, singer Josh Berwanger recounted it must have been close to 15 years. Joining the ranks of other seminal emo/punk bands to reunite, The Anniversary gave their fans a night to remember as they ran through the hits from their two emo classics. Opening for the night were Extra Classic and Laura Stevenson.
As the first band of the night took the stage, fans were greeted with a familiar face. Fronting San Francisco based act Extra Classic was Adrianne deLanda (formerly Verhoeven), who also shares vocal as well as keyboard duties in The Anniversary. While not diving completely into the genre, the reggae influences were hard to miss. Each had their own parts that were done so in tasteful ways. Extra Classic’s sound came as a bit of a surprise, but it was a welcomed one that opened the show up perfectly.
Rounding out support for the night was singer-songwriter Laura Stevenson. Backed by her four piece band, the Long Island native blazed through a set comprised mostly of her two most recent albums, Wheel and Cocksure. Her guitar driven, hook filled songs brought the growing crowd close up to the stage. Songs like “Torch Song” and “Diet of Worms” gave a healthy offering from Cocksure, but the likes of “Renee” and “Runner” showed her reached a little further back into her catalog. Stevenson and co. ended their night with one of her most infectious and well written songs to date, “Jellyfish”.
From the beginning of their set with “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” until the very end, the crowd was singing along to every word so loudly that The Anniversary could have played the night without mics. Each of the band members came out with smiles on their faces to a roar from the room full of fans. All throughout the night, they made it well known how appreciative they were for coming back after all these years.
During their heyday in the early ’00s, The Anniversary released two well received albums, Your Majesty and Designing a Nervous Breakdown. Both were put on display Friday night. Song selections from the two albums were split almost exactly even, with a handful of b-sides mixed in. Crowd favorites like “Emma Discovery” and “Peace, Pain & Regret” filled the night until ending on “Perfectly”.
After a brief break, The Anniversary came back out to perform a few more songs including “Sweet Marie” and “Hart Crane” until ending on the phenomenal “The D in Detroit”. A night filled with singalongs and nostalgia left fans craving for more as the house lights came on. Plans following the tour have yet to be announced, but for the time being, The Anniversary should be riding high on their comeback. Time will only tell if this ends up being the last time we catch the emo/indie vets.