The 2009 Take Action! Tour featured the following lineup:
Anarbor
Every Avenue
Breathe Carolina
Meg & Dia
Cute Is What We Aim For

Following last year’s example, the 2009 Take Action! Tour has chosen Do Something – a charity that raises money to get young people out and working to make a difference in their communities – as their official charity – with 10% of proceeds from ticket sales going to the charity. Running from February 11th through today (April 1st), The 2009 Take Action! Tour was winding down when it made a stop at Chicago’s well-traversed House of Blues on Monday, March 30th. But the energy level on the floor as the doors opened at five didn’t give off a “winding down” vibe. Despite it being a relatively early show – doors opened at five and opener Anarbor started playing at 5:30 – on a Monday night, the young fans in the audience were already giving off the signature screams and yells of a young crowd before the curtain opened for the first act.

In a sign of the audience’s age levels (I’d set the average at around 16 – and that’s counting the two moms I saw), only one bar in the vast venue was left open – staffed by a few rather bored looking bartenders occasionaly serving up soda and bottled water.

Anarbor opened smartly with their quick, poppy hooks, rocking guitar riffs and driving drumbeats. As the opener for an evening of five bands, it’s easy enough to say that they exceeded expectations, getting the already excited crowd riled up and ready to rock out dishing out tracks from their newest EP - Free Your Mind. The band was energetic throughout, but earned the biggest response from their final two songs. With the freewheeling “Always Dirty, Never Clean” the first of innumerable eff-bombs to be dropped throughout the evening earned uproarious approval from the audience as lead singer Slaide Echeverria loudly proclaimed “I’ll sell my songs but never my soul!” and followed it up nicely with ”What the fuck happened to rock and roll?” The band saved their catchiest hook for last, ending with the fast-paced ditty “The Brightest Green” – a song with a chorus that is impossible to get out of your head.

Second up, the thirty minute set by pop punk group Every Avenue got a warm audience response but felt a little uninspired. Aside from their undeniably catchy latest track “Think of You Later” most of their songs seemed to blend together as vocalist David Ryan Strauchman strutted the stage in the odd combo of a flannel shirt and a vest.

Easily winning the most unusual act of the night - as they most likely do whereever they play - the third band, Denver, Colorado natives Breathe Carolina opened their act with Technotronic’s “Pump Up the Jam” playing in the background and an incredibly elaborate light show. Blaring out their signature sound (termed Electronica and Screamo) the two permanent members of the band (Kyle Even and David Schmitt) circled the stage, alternately mumbling lyrics and howling into a microphone adapted to emit a velocaraptor-like scream. In addition to the two singers (who took frequent occasion to stop singing and simply dance on the stage and demand that the audience show them “some fucking spirit hands”) keytar player Josh Andrew provided music along with an onstage sound mixer. To the uninitiated, most of Breathe Carolina’s act can seem a bit like madness, or as I’ve deemed it: post-hardcore Broadway bubble-gum pop being molested by Cannibal Corpse. It undeniably connected with their audience, though, especially their bigger tracks from their latest release It’s  Classy, Not Classic – “Show Me Yours” and “The Birds and the Bees.” For those that haven’t seen this band live, it’s definitely an experience – and one that the majority of the audience was exuberantly excited to have.

After possibly the longest sound check the House of Blues has ever experienced, one of the bigger acts of the night, sister act Meg & Dia (made up of Meg and Dia Frampton and three others) took the stage for a shifting of gears from the mostly male-driven bands that had been playing up to this point. Lead singer Dia Frampton, wearing a boy’s baseball shirt – for which she justifiably earned a screamingly complimentary “I love your shirt!” – proved that girls can rock the House of Blues as easily as guys can. The lighter sound of Meg & Dia provided a nice change of pace after the rough screamo sound of Breathe Carolina. They provided an ample cover of Blind Melon’s “No Rain” and were at their best during the acoustic “Halloween” and the heartfelt “Roses.”

I was gone before headliner Cute is What We Aim For capped off the night, but if they garnered any more support than the rest of the bands, it’s easy to assume that the show was a resounding success. If the 2009 Take Action! Tour had half as much support in other cities as it did in Chicago on Monday night, the bands involved, as well as the charity Do Something are likely feeling pretty successful tonight as their tour wraps up its final night. 

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