by Vasilis, contributing writer
Bayside is a four-piece punk band that has been around for fourteen years. They write loud, ambitious songs and play high-energy shows. But for many, Bayside is more than a band; Bayside is a family. “Bayside is a cult”.
From the beginning of their existence, fans have adopted this rallying cry to show the community the band’s music has created. There is nothing negative about this cult. There is no psychotic leader, no brainwashed followers, and no mass suicides. The term “cult” is an endearing symbol of the struggles and hard work that exemplifies not only the band, but their fans as well.
When Bayside announced that their sixth album would be called Cult, it felt like a second self-titled record and a refresh for the band. Following a bad relationship with Victory Records and an uneventful one with Wind-Up, the band signed to indie giant Hopeless Records (Taking Back Sunday, Yellowcard, The Wonder Years), and marched ahead with resolve and determination. Leading up to the reveal of the Cult album cover, the band posted images of each of their prior albums, showing signs of a unified effort that drew on all their past work.
Musically and lyrically, Cult is the same Bayside you have come to know. The Queens NY rockers pull no punches on this 11-song album, delivering an unrelenting attack with the typical anger and aggression that has defined their back catalog. For those who thought frontman Anthony Raneri’s marriage and the birth of his child might slow down his bitter, scathing lyrics, they’ll be happy to know it has not. “Pigsty” angrily asserts “Your name is dirt/and I got you under my nails/from clawing to freedom/I’ve been buried below your dark trails”. The topic of Anthony’s ex-wife drives the album’s lyrics, continuing the trend from their 2011 album Killing Time. The chorus of “You’re No Match” proves to be as catchy as anything the band has ever recorded; the lines “you’re the monster I was scared you’d be/and now you’re blaming it on your surroundings/and your horns came out so gradually/but honey, you’re no match for me” are infectious in large part to Anthony’s confidence and bravado.
Musically, the album doesn’t fall too far from the band’s past work, but that doesn’t mean they sticks to one formula. Opener “Big Cheese” is heavier than most fans are accustomed to, charging in with Chris Guglielmo’s explosive drum work and Anthony and Jack O’Shea’s dynamic riff. Like most Bayside songs, Jack O’Shea steals the show with a face-melting guitar solo on almost every track. Lead single “Time Has Come” is the closest the band has come to writing a catchy radio-ready punk song. The middle section of this album shows how Bayside can continue to create relatable hits by sticking to their unique, identifiable sound.
The album hits its stride with “Transitive Property”, a rare Bayside love song which sees Anthony asking forgiveness from his wife after a fight that almost ended their relationship. The song is the closest the album has to a slow ballad and works due to its anthemic chorus and honest lyrics. “Objectivist on Fire” is one of the most well-thought out Bayside songs in recent memory, a slowed-down tune that showcases Anthony’s vocal range as he questions if he will ever find the true love he has desperately searched for and lost. To anyone who has ever lost “the one”, the chorus, “And I am feeling older all the time/running out of days to get it right/I can’t believe I’ve wasted all my life/chasing after something I was never meant to find” will hit very close to home. Cult is a stellar addition to the Bayside collection and one that fans will continue coming back to.
To celebrate Cult’s release, Bayside cleverly planned a secret show in a small bar in Amityville, Long Island. The band released a video for “Hate Me” which was performed by the imaginary band Caraboo. A Caraboo twitter page popped up and announced they would be playing their first show on Tuesday, February 18. The venue posted an image of the Bayside bird and announced that Caraboo tickets would be sold in person the night before at the bar at 9pm Fans wised up to the surprise but the anticipation and excitement at seeing such an intimate Bayside show was palpable.
Following an acoustic performance at Looney Tunes in West Babylon, Bayside took the stage shortly before 10pm in front of 200 devout fans and drew a wild ovation. The band opened their set with the first five tracks from their new album. As fans cheered on the live debuts of the new songs, the band announced they would play some older tunes before diving into “Devotion and Desire”, “Montauk”, and “Blame it On Bad Luck”. These cuts whipped the audience into a frenzy, inspiring the sweat-soaked crowd to sing along to these Bayside classics. The band played everything from old (“Guardrail”) to new (“Big Cheese”) and even threw in a cover of “Good Things” by The Menzingers for good measure. The crowd gave every last bit of energy they had when the band closed their 13-song set with their Bayside closer “Dear Tragedy”, sending the fans home happy.
Though only playing for about an hour, Bayside commanded the stage with ease and showed their consistently solid live show is just as good in a small room as it is in a large concert hall that holds thousands. The band seemed genuinely enthused by the crowd reaction and happy with the work they have put in with Cult. Bayside has stuck around for so long mainly due to their hard-working attitude, great songwriting and live show, and die-hard fanbase; these elements were on full display on February 18, a day the band celebrated the release of their newest album and fans celebrated the love and devotion they have for Bayside. It was a special night for everyone involved.