The Starting Line is a band some of you might know for their breakout song “Best Of Me,” that became the marker for the perfect pop/punk song back in 2002. With their full-length studio album, Say It Like You Mean It debuting on July 16, 2002 -- angsty/heartbroken teenagers had a young counterpart to identify with. At the ripe age of 18, front man Kenny Vasoli was inducted as one of the scenes most identifiable faces. With his signature voice and clever lyrics, Kenny was now the face (and voice) of a generation who were too young to be around for the formation of Blink-182 – but wanted (and needed) someone to identify with. Someone who was seemingly just like them -- but could play bass and channel his feelings into infectious songs. To help sort out passive aggressive angst, and the struggles of falling in and out of love on a weekly basis. In short, Kenny was now among names like Rivers Cuomo, Jim Adkins and Mark Hoppus for new era of teens to turn to.
Since Say It Like You Mean It, TSL released three other full-lengths-- including one live album documenting their final US tour in 2008. As big of a fan as I was as a teenager, I regrettably never saw TSL live. When a band breaks up and you never get to hear your favorite songs live, it leaves a slight hole in your music loving heart. However, earlier this year when the band revealed they would be put together an anniversary tour for the album -- I just about lost my mind. I bought tickets for three separate dates and counted my blessings. My prayer had been answered and last night’s show was more than I ever anticipated.
The set list was, as promised -- all of Say It Like You Mean It from start to finish. With small anecdotes about some of the songs, the set was high-energy and the crowd around me was elated to see Kenny singing the songs we never stopped listening to. Our leader was back and he was happy to see us. As TSL tore through the set list, it was as if they had never stopped playing these songs either. TSL was better live has musicians than I had anticipated. Not to say I don’t think they are talented, it had just been a while since they had played together. But the magic was still there.
With the enthusiasm of the crowd, lyrics like, “The feelings of screaming out/the words I think some think about/hearing them coming back/from the crowd’s mouth is perfect,” had never been more appropriate. As my friend Chris pointed out, I don’t think I have ever been to a show where the crowd singing was louder than the band. It was magic, and special, and we all knew it. All around me were fans that have loved this band since they were teenagers and never forgot these songs. To have the opportunity for a band to essentially come back from the dead, and then transport us back to a time when were first fell in love with them – made for an incredibly special experience.
Kenny, with a giant simile on his face the entire night, thanked all of us for giving them the opportunity to put on this tour and for continuing to love this album. He coyly quoted Office Space and said, “The pleasure is all on this side of the table.” You could tell this was just as special for them as it was for all of us. The Glass House in Pomona, CA was filled with hundreds of people reliving a day that sparked their love of music and made growing up a bit more bearable. In my opinion no one has been able to grasp the magic in pop/punk that The Staring Line had. If you are younger and love yourself some All Time Low – you should take a listen to “Say It Like You Mean It.” Might give you something new to love -- that’s old.
Say It Like You Mean It holds a lot of songs that have meant a lot to me over the years. I feel like I did my 16-year-old self a big service seeing this tour and recommend checking it out when it comes to your town. A once in a lifetime opportunity -- that I will live three times.