Taking Back Sunday and Citizen Take The Fillmore On A Nostalgia-Filled Journey


I’m a nostalgia seeker. If you’ve been following my blog for any time, this isn’t hard to catch on to. I am constantly going to see bands that have been constant in the daily playlist of my life. A case in point would be catching Punchline on Thursday night. It was so nostalgic, so perfect, so wonderful, so “everything I ever needed.” I thought that seeing Taking Back Sunday at The Fillmore on Friday would continue that trend, and although it did in a very “small world” kind of way, it also didn’t and left me wondering how far nostalgia can take a band.

Before I get into the bummer fest that I felt was the headlining act, let’s talk about the good of the night, and that good came in the form of the opening act, Citizen. I’ve seen Citizen a couple of times before and have always thoroughly enjoyed their sets, but something about their performance on Friday hit me a little harder. Hailing from Michigan and Ohio, Citizen is not a new band. They have been around since 2009, releasing five full-length albums and a smattering of other EPs, splits, and singles. Although I haven’t obsessed over this band and only know a handful of their tracks, the band captivated me throughout their thirty-five-minute set.

Stylistically, Citizen is a mix of Brand New and Turnstile. It’s soft and sensitive at times and bombastic and hardcore at others. Although the blend of those two styles is not unique to Citizen, the way they pull it off is flawless. Honestly, the composition of the songs from Citizen is something to be envied, and when you add a highly energetic stage show to it, you are left with the perfect opening set. As I mentioned, this band hasn’t hit me super hard in the past, but they did on Friday. I attribute this to the amount of heart that was so easily seen from this band. Whether they were playing one of their softer tracks or digging into one of their more hardcore-leaning songs, they were doing it with conviction and passion, and that was more than enough for them to take this show and run away with it.

I wanted to love Taking Back Sunday’s set on Friday night, but the truth is, it was rough, and that’s being nice. Here’s the deal. I love this band. I have always loved this band, and I will always love this band. That won’t change, but I think that my time spent bailing on other shows to see them perform has come to an end, and that breaks my heart. When I last saw Taking Back Sunday at the Mystic Lake Amphitheatre in the summer of 2022, they let me down. I chalked it up to an off night and moved on with my life, but their disappointing performance on Friday night made me think that this band is on a downward spiral, and it absolutely broke my heart.

Don’t get me wrong, I sang along to every song they performed on Friday. I loved how they opened with their new song “S’Old” before leaping into old-school hit after hit. Truthfully, their set list on Friday was one of my favorite curations of this storied band’s career thus far, but it hasn’t hit. Vocalist Adam Lazzara was off, and, again, that’s me being nice because, well, I don’t want to bash a band that means so much to me. He seemed out of it. Part of me wants to blame this on burnout. Like a friend who I was texting mentioned, this band has been touring since 1764. Okay, obviously, that’s not true, but Taking Back Sunday is a road-warrior kind of band, and they are constantly on the road yet somehow continue to put out amazing music. The burnout has to be real for all of them, and maybe that was just coming to fruition during Adam’s performance on Friday night. That being said, it could have been other things. I’m not going to speculate on that, but I will say that something just felt off and that off feeling radiated from Adam Lazzara.

I wasn’t the only one who noticed this. I only say that to defend myself because, honestly, I’ve been dreading writing this review, but even my brother and sister-in-law were confused. They asked me if they always sounded this bad, and I felt the need to defend the band by saying, “No! They have always been so great and must just be having an off night.” But the truth is that Taking Back Sunday’s live performances have been inching closer and closer to a trainwreck over the years for me. It’s so odd because their new album ‘152’ is so well done. It’s an album that hits all of the right notes, so I was optimistic that this would be the second golden era of the band, but the set on Friday made it clear that’s not the case at all.

I was at this show for the nostalgia factor, and although I didn’t get it from the sloppy performance from Taking Back Sunday, I found that sense of nostalgia in the most unlikely place, which brings me to the best part of my night. As I was walking up to the stage to get in position for photos, I heard my name. I looked down to see a face from my angsty teenage years that I hadn’t seen in damn near twenty years. The crazy thing is, I thought I saw this friend at the show on Thursday night, but after checking her socials, I realized that she was at home in small-town Iowa and definitely not at the Punchline show. It was kind of wild to see her face after just thinking of her for the first time in years, but it filled me with so much love. Being able to get into the photo pit with a girl who knew me back when I started this conquest of nightly shows back at The House Of Bricks in Des Moines, Iowa, was absolutely the highlight of my night, and although Taking Back Sunday let me down, I walked away from the show with a giant smile on my face.