Boston’s Brighton Music Hall was packed to the brim and buzzing with energy, even for a Friday night in the middle of summer. The venue is known for its notorious indie and punk shows hosted in an intimate space with no barrier between the crowd and the stage. But from the moment fans walked in, it was clear they were celebrating.
In fact, for weeks, fans across the country had been celebrating the 10th anniversary of The Rocket Summer’s album that started it all: Do You Feel. The master mind behind The Rocket Summer, Bryce Avary, took a full band on tour to play the album start to finish to celebrate the album’s legacy and how far the music has come since. This was definitely an older crowd than I’m used to seeing at Brighton. Despite overhearing some thirty-something punk bro warn his other thirty-something punk bro to “look out for the 12 year olds” as they made their way through the crowd, I’d say the average attendee was probably in their late twenties. It was a 10th anniversary show, after all. Parents, teens, and college-age twenty-somethings came together sporting apparel from bands from all over the emo/indie/pop-punk spectrum, from Kings of Lean to All Time Low to Blink 182. Because the crowd was so diverse, the show had an awesome dynamic from the get-go.
Active Bird Community opened for The Rocket summer, kicking off the evening with awesome energy and near-perfect audience engagement. From the moment they took the stage, the venue had the energy of a dance party, and The Rocket Summer only amplified the party vibes.
Avary kicked off the set with a dramatic backlit tease of the title track of the iconic album before jumping right into “Break It Out.” Right from the get-go, his energy was contagious and the crowd loved every second. Avary showed off his diversity as a musician as he switched from guitar to keyboard to harmonica to some combination of the three mid-song without ever skipping a beat. He even sparred with the touring drummer in an epic battle mid-set.
The show was jam packed with music, but Avary struck a near-impossible perfect balance between nostalgic banter and cranking out song after song. At one point he paused to tell the crowd a story about how, while recording Do You Feel in Los Angeles, he played the snare used to record Smells Like Teen Spirit.
“Some of these we’ve never even played before,” he said of the songs on tap for the evening. “I decided I wanted to make a song where I could imagine the whole crowd on a pogo stick,” he laughed as he played the opening riff to “Taken Aback.”
Avary told the fiery crowd this album is important to him because it’s the record that brought a lot of The Rocket Summer’s community together. He used his platform on this tour in particular to call on this community to make a positive change in the world. Avary worked with the Child Fund all tour long to raise money to combat child poverty.
Even as the applause for the nonprofit subsided, the unity of The Rocket Summer’s fans continued to show as the packed Brighton Music Hall belted every word to every song in unison, never missing a beat. Avary made it clear throughout the set that he wanted to be a part of that community, too, not separated from the fans by a stage. At one point, he had the crowd form a circle so he could get up close and personal for his rendition of “Run To You.” He even crowd surfed during “Hold It Up.”
He also had some personal details about the album to share with fans as part of this 10th anniversary celebration, like his favorite song is “Waiting” because it’s more introspective than other tracks on the album.
“I’m an emo kid at heart,” Avary said to roaring applause. I recognized many faces at this show from Emo Night Brooklyn’s last two appearances in Boston. “It’s about forgiveness and how I’m sort of wired to forgive,” Avary continued.
Once the band wrapped up 13 songs off Do You Feel, they jumped right into another set of favorites off Avary’s other albums. The crowd’s response was just as energetic as the first leg of the set, if not even more. It was as if the audience had caught its second wind.
The band played for over two hours and kept everyone engaged and entertained the whole way through. There was plenty of crowd surfing and strobe lights, dancing and jumping around with the crowd, and it seemed like the band never stopped for a breath or a drink of water. Overall, I’d call this performance a wonderful, nostalgic look at the past, a celebration of where The Rocket Summer started, and an exciting look ahead at what’s to come.
In the words of Avary himself: “Here’s to 10 more years, y’all.”
Interested in more? Click here for photos from the show!