Senses Fail Celebrates 15 Years at The Cabooze


Photos by David Rubene

Wednesday night was one of those shows where I couldn’t stop my eyes from swelling up with tears and where, when the music hit, I couldn’t help but scream along. The feeling that radiated off the stage from all of the bands that performed was enough to warm the coldest of hearts. The conversations going on around me were conversations between strangers who were quickly becoming friends. What I’m trying to say is last night was a good night.

The show started with Like Pacific from Toronto. For what ended up being a super eclectic show, these guys had the most straight-up pop-punk sound of the night. Their thirty minute set seemed to go fast because of the mix of great music and the anticipation of the headlining act but, even though it seemed quick, the set left me intrigued about this band. Although they had all of the makings of an early 2000’s emo revivalist group, they had some elements from other genres that made for an over-all unique sound. There were small glimpses into a heavier world through the guitarist and drummer that gave the music a sense of ferocity you don’t typically see with pop-punk bands. With such a unique sound to start off my night, I knew that, although I was most excited for the headliner, I wasn’t going to regret getting to the show early.

California group Movements was up next and brought a sense of intensity with their vocals instead of their instruments. They may be labeled as a post-hardcore/ emo group on Facebook but I don’t think that does their sound justice at all. The music they play matched what I’ve been getting into lately perfectly and the conviction they played it with had me falling head over heels. The music of Movements focuses on the story-telling lyrics. Vocalist Patrick Miranda seemed to be more of a storyteller than a singer but it completely worked and was enough to make the ever-growing crowd stop whatever conversation they were having. He easily demands all of you attention without even asking for it. The band behind Patrick seems to add just enough flair to keep the stories feeling musical all the while staying behind the power of the lyrics. The respect the band showed for the lyrics matched the respect showed by the crowd throughout the set. By the end of their thirty minutes, I was emotionally drained and feeling the heaviness of their music. I wouldn’t quite call it a mood-killer but it was definitely one of those sets that made you stop and think. Regardless of if you knew who Movements was before you walked into the show last night, you left with them in the back of your mind. It was too powerful of a set to just forget about.

The energy in the audience didn’t fade during Movements’ set, it just took a different form. People seemed more reserved out of respect for the music so they didn’t move around that much but that all changed as soon as Counterparts took the stage. Counterparts was the only hardcore group of the night and they brought a sense of energy that you would expect from a hardcore show. They didn’t stick out as much as I thought they would when I initially saw the bill but they definitely brought a whole new element to the night and an element that I truly love. They powered through the set and the crowd seemed to follow singer Brendan “B” Murphy as he stomped from side to side of the stage. The pit opened up within the first song and ended up staying open for the rest of the night. Although the music was different than the rest of the night, their message was not. The band’s positive attitude and appreciation for the crowd participation shined throughout their set and, even though their music was new for most of the crowd, people seemed to truly enjoy it.

Even with all of the amazing music from the first three bands, last night was all about the headlining act for me. Senses Fail was one of those bands that helped me through the hardest part of my life. When I was suffering from depression and self harm, their album “Let It Enfold You” was there for me. Even though I had never met him, singer James “Buddy” Nielsen had become my best friend and a true inspiration. He felt like a real person to me, not a superstar. I would watch him admit during interviews that he had made his mistakes, that he had issues and he wasn’t perfect. I think, at that time in my life, that’s exactly what I needed to hear. I needed to hear someone as famous (okay, he was hella famous in my mind but if you weren’t part of the scene, you may not agree) as Buddy from Senses Fail had been through some of the shit I had been through and was still kicking. 

Fast forward to last night. It’s been fifteen years of Senses Fail. Fifteen years of me falling on my ass and trying to get up again. Fifteen years. How crazy is that. Sure, they didn’t play “Let It Enfold You” in it’s entirety last night. Instead, they played “Still Searching” from 2006 and, although it didn’t have the same effect on my life as their debut album, being able to see these guys live did. Even with all of the changes in my life and the lives of the band members, it seemed like nothing had changed at all. We are all older and have started to find a balance in life but, deep down, we are all still those emotionally charged, angsty teenagers who have no clue what the hell we are doing.

Throughout the set, Buddy addressed the crowd and started talking about life. Nothing specifically, just life in general. He brought up the fact that majority of the crowd probably had a day job to get to today and we should probably just be at home with some Netflix and an unhealthy burrito in our hand from some fast food joint that’s probably terrible for you. He talked about how life is too short to have fake friends. “You don’t need friends!” he shouted, “Friends just make you do things that cost money.”.  He explained that life shouldn’t be a struggle. If you hate your job, quit. If you’re with a crappy significant other, leave them. It sounds so stupid when I type it out here but, to hear Buddy say something so simple yet so significant meant everything to me.

Senses Fail played for nearly an hour and a half last night. They played through “Still Searching” in it’s entirety first and finished off the set with a couple new songs and just a handful of old ones. Much like myself, the crowd didn’t care what they were playing. Last night was a chance for all of us to realize just how far we have come in the past fifteen years and, even with all of that change and uncertainty of what the future may hold or the uncertainty of what the hell we are even doing, we aren’t alone. My generation grew up with bands like Senses Fail and being able to see them still kicking and realize that, after everything we have been through, we are still kicking too meant absolutely everything to everyone in that crowd last night.