Despite announcing last year that he was stepping away from his famed and long-running group Say Anything, eclectic punk rock lifer Max Bemis still managed to release one last album (for now) under the moniker earlier this year. Dubbed Oliver Appropriate, it is, fittingly, something of a sequel to the LP that helped put Say Anything on the map, …Is a Real Boy, and though there won’t be a formal SA tour in support, we’re thrilled that Bemis is instead opting to embark on a solo run (where, surely, he’ll play plenty of SA favorites, with the option to pull from an impressive catalogue of various other great musical endeavors). The trek brings Max to The Basement East on Oct. 23, and, excitingly, he’ll also be joined by his wife Sherri DuPree-Bemis to perform as their excellent duo Perma, who just returned with their first album in six years back in the spring. Longtime Say Anything tourmates Museum Mouth are tapped to open things up, and tickets to this uniquely intimate Bemis outing are available here while they last! We’re excited to announce that we’re also giving away a pair of tickets to one lucky fan, however, so if you’d rather try your luck, read on fore more about the show and enter for a chance to win below!
MAX BEMIS (of Say Anything)
To simply peg Say Anything as a “pop punk” band, or a product of the pop punk scene would be to sell short their long, nuanced, and expansive history, throughout which they’ve become one of our era’s greatest rock bands, period. Helmed by singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Max Bemis, the group formed in 2000, when Bemis was merely 16. A far-cry from your typical high school band, however, Say Anything’s early efforts, including self-released debut LP Baseball, were so good, and showed so much promise, that they’ve not only been captured in expansive and sought after box sets and compilations many years later, but they also ignited enough early interest to spark a bidding war, landing the group on Doghouse Records by the time of their 2004 fan favorite …Is a Real Boy. Immediately embraced and swept up by the popular pop punk and Warped Tour scene of the early ’00s, Bemis, who struggled with mental illness and drug addiction in the band’s early days, was forced to put his musical ambitions on hold on several occasions, including while recording Real Boy, eventually seeking treatment and finding his path in time for Say Anything to ascend the ranks of modern punk royalty, and to craft an ambitious, guest-filled, double concept followup album, In Defense of the Genre, in 2007. After briefly flirting with major label status and glossier, more reeled in songwriting with 2009’s Say Anything, the band re-teamed with Real Boy producer Tim O’Heir for thematic punk concept album Anarchy, My Dear in 2012; perhaps the closest they’ve come to misstep (or, in our opinion, a misunderstood conceptual landing). Largely transcendent of their “scene” roots, and with several successful side projects launched (Bemis alone has at least three, including Two Tongues, a supergroup with Saves The Day’s Chris Conley), the band ditched guitars entirely with self-produced, string heavy Hebrews in 2014; around which time the fairly permeant live lineup of around a decade began to erode into Nine Inch Nails approach of Bemis and whoever else he might tap to contribute to a particular tour or recording. After many years of playing virtually every instrument in the studio, Max enlisted a stacked crew of guest contributors to make 2016’s I Don’t Think It Is, a ferocious concept album released by surprise, which returned Say Anything to their rawest, most punk form, proving that, after all of these years, they still have the ferocity and realness that made them so special at the start.
Ahead of the latest Say Anything album, this year’s Oliver Appropriate, another concept album largely framed as sequel to …Is a Real Boy (as well as Bemis’ exploration of his own sexuality), which feels like something of a sonic fusion between that early era and the project’s more adventurous later work, Bemis made his boldest move in regards to Say Anything ever: he blew it up. In an open letter to fans posted over a year ago, and citing renewed struggles with mental health and substance abuse, Max announced that he’d be stepping away from the project for the foreseeable future, and wouldn’t be touring as Say Anything in support of Oliver Appropriate, while staying careful to leave the door open for future activity. Now a successful comic book author, still active with other musical endeavors (particularly those with his wife, Sherri), and a father to three young children with a fourth on the way, we wouldn’t read into this tour as Max already having second thoughts about retiring Say Anything, but, instead, a way for him to continue to play music on his own whim, and to tour without the expectation and pressure the Say Anything moniker carries. And though he did just release a single under his own name (hear it below), and he and his wife have hinted at various family musical projects in the works thanks to the independence of their home studio, these more intimate and informal musical endeavors are likely to be more the norma for Bemis for the time being. Still, for longtime fans of any of his work, this show is sure to be a special one, and will surely feature many Say Anything favorites, almost certainly including the new material that hasn’t yet been played live. Don’t miss it!
One of Max Bemis’s aforementioned other projects, Perma is an especially personal one, as it is co-led by his wife, Sherri DuPree-Bemis (best known for her beloved indie group Eisley). The duo released their first full-length as Perma, Two of a Crime, way back in 2013, and a toured a bit with the project back then, but had fallen somewhat inactive until returning earlier this year with sophomore effort Fight Fair. While the first album landed a little closer the harmony-soaked, poppy indie stylings of Sherri’s typical work, Perma’s latest is more directly shaped by the heavier, weirder tones of Say Anything- or, more accurately, more representatively lands squarely in between the two’s artistic and songwriting sensibilities, befitting just as much from Sherri’s harmonic and melodic ethos. A Perma tour is about as rare as a Max Bemis solo tour, so this criminally underrated project’s inclusion on the lineup automatically makes this an essential show for fans of either artist’s work.
Another group that couldn’t be more perfectly selected for this bill, Museum Mouth‘s honest, poppy, indie punk sound fits especially well with Bemis’s Say Anything output (and, apparently, their 2014 record Alex I am Nothing largely helped inspire the concept of Oliver Appropriate). Hailing from North Carolina, the trio, energetic and emotionally earnest, are now signed to Max Bemis’s Rory Records imprint of Equal Vision, through which they recently released their fantastic fourth and most recent LP, Popcorn Fish Guinea Pig, in 2016. It should go without saying, but show up early and see these guys; you won’t be disappointed.
ENTER TO WIN TICKETS
Enter to win tickets by filling out the form below. Must be 18+ to attend. If you experience any trouble with the contest widget, or have any questions, feel free to email us at [email protected].
Winner will be announced Tuesday, Oct. 22 at 12 p.m. CDT, and will receive one pair of tickets. Good luck!
Max Bemis, Perma, and Museum Mouth will perform Wednesday, Oct. 23 at The Basement East. The show is 18+, begins at 8 p.m. (doors at 7 p.m.), and tickets are available to purchase for $17-20.