Typically when bands decide to call it a day, they just release the tired and clichéd “we are splitting up” statement, leaving a bad taste in fans’ mouth. Instead of going that route, Winter Haven’s Anberlin decided to treat fans to one last world tour before putting the band to rest, ending it all where it began; Orlando. But before that could happen, they made a quick stop in our backyard to say good-bye to their South Floridian fans.
Arriving at Revolution Live in Ft. Lauderdale, the scene would appear as if no one was interested in bidding farewell to the home state band with the front of the venue clear of anyone waiting to enter. Only a few people were present, mostly standing at the box office located next to the band’s tour bus. But the second the concert ticket was scanned and entrance was granted into the darkly dim night club, the scene would change dramatically with the club’s two floors full of eager fans ready for the bittersweet experience.
Opening the show were 68, the creation of The Chariot vocalist, Josh Scogin. The duo had recently joined the remaining days of the world tour and made sure to let the audience know who chose them for the part. “If you like us, thank you very much. If you don’t like us, then blame Anberlin,” Scogin jokingly told the audience.
During their set, they played several of their songs including one titled “Track One.” At one point, Scogin was strumming his guitar over drummer Michael McClellan, so McClellan decided to play the guitar with his drumsticks; an interesting sight to see. Scogin would then follow that up by showing his adventurous side during the short set by climbing on McClellan’s drum kit to play his guitar, though we were pretty sure he was a little drunk at that point of the night.
After their set wrapped, with a long closer, the duo walked off stage to make way for the headliners of the night and the reason that the pit area in front of the stage was filled to the brim with bodies.
Half an hour after the road crew took the stage to set up the instruments, the stage became dark as the members of Anberlin shuffled onto one of the final stages of their career. Frontman Stephen Christian was the last to get on stage, but almost as fast as he got on stage, they launched into the first song of the evening; “Paperthin Hymn” from their second album, Never Take Friendship Personal.
For the most part, the band were quiet, sticking to singing and playing, rather than bantering with the audience like many musicians tend to do at a concert, but after “Take Me (As You Found Me),” Christian had to make a comment about a crowd member in particular. “It’s one of our slowest songs and there you are fighting,” he said, directing the attention to someone in the audience.
“She was looking to slug someone. I don’t get it. We’re not Metallica. We’re more like ‘Mmmbop,’” Christian said, singing a line from the Hanson song, resulting in a round of laughter from the audience members. But the talking didn’t last much as they launched into another somewhat mellow song, “The Unwinding Cable Car.”
A song that had an odd placement in the band’s 20-song set list was “The Symphony of Blasé.” For a song that’s lyrics consist of “this is our last good night,” it seemed odd to place it in the middle of the show instead of closing with it.
The setlist did its best to give fans a little bit from every album, but when you have seven albums and 12 years worth of songs, it’s hard to give everyone what they want. The band even paid tribute to those who have been there since the beginning by playing a song from their debut album (Blueprints for the Black Market), “ReadyFuels.”
As the night progressed songs from Cities such as “Godspeed” and “A Whisper and a Clamor,” were played while “Dismantle. Repair” did a good job of dismantling fans’ emotions.
Other songs featured were: “Self-Starter,” “Someone Anyone,” “Other Side” from VITAL; “The Resistance” and “Breaking” from New Surrender; and “Never Take Friendship Personal” and “A Day Late,” from Never Take Friendship Personal among others.
Two surprises came from the Ft. Lauderdale setlist. The first was the fact that even though they had just released a new album at the beginning of the year, they only performed one song from Lowborn, “We Are the Destroyer”; not even lead single “Hearing Voices.” Another surprise came from the song they did not play, “Adelaide,” a song that was met with lots of enthusiasm at the Vans Warped Tour in West Palm Beach this past Summer.
The “last” song of the evening was the track that helped catapult them into the mainstream, “Feel Good Drag.” Once the last chord of the song came to an end, all five members of the band walked off the stage, earning them the sound of the packed venue chanting, “one more song.” Of course, when the house lights did not instantly appear, it meant “one more song” was well on its way.
The band officially closed out their set with the aptly named song, “(*Fin),” the closing track on Cities. As Christian sang about being “the patron saint of lost causes,” fans raised their crossed fingers in the air, mimicking the image on the cover of Lowborn. We like to believe it’s a promise from the band that they will be back or at least continue making music for those that have such a connection to their lyrics.
As the song ended, you could feel the aura of the venue go from excitement to sadness as the band hugged one another, took a group photograph with the crowd behind them, waved goodbye to their South Florida fans, and walked off the stage.
As the house lights came on, all that can be seen was the road crew getting ready to take apart the stage as well as the band’s backdrop which was a simple black material hanging from the rafters with “Anberlin” printed in all caps in white.
As the crowd shuffled out the doors of Revolution Live, you could feel the bittersweet aura follow everyone out into the cool night air.
This marked the end of a 12 year era.