SAYREVILLE, NJ—Best part of the holidays is having all the national acts from New Jersey home and playing shows to give you an excuse to avoid visiting family members. To kick off the Christmas weekend, I was out to what became a full house for the Senses Fail and Saves The Day holiday show. Proceeds from ticket sales were going to support the upkeep of the Court Tavern in New Brunswick.

I entered the venue just as Balance & Composure was taking the stage, and I was excited to finally be seeing these boys live. They were pretty much fresh off the plane from a European tour, but they didn’t let it show. They gave a strong performance and while I wasn’t surprised at the amount of fans there for them, I hadn’t seen a packed house for an opener in quite a long time. Playing songs mainly off their current full-length, Separation, they dedicated my favorite, “Quake,” to Senses Fail.

Saves The Day was up next and I faded into the back of the venue. For me, they are one of those bands of which you are a fan of or don’t really care to take notice. Tell me I’m wrong, but I just couldn’t move along with the rest of the fans on the floor to their brand of pop-punk and super sweet sounding vocals. At one point, I was thinking the group of guys moshing in front of me were doing it as a joke, but I was wrong. When they turned, I saw they knew each word to every song.

They did a number of older songs in addition to tracks off their current release, Daybreak. About three songs from their last, singer Chris Conley apologized to fans that this would be their last old song for the night. I heard sighs from around the venue.

With the end of the year near, I couldn’t help but reflect how this show was like a homecoming for every Jersey kid. The bar area was packed to the brim with fans as all those kids who use to be on the main floor a couple years back are now of age. There were no frills this night, no crazy new antics (except showing off their new guitarist) and it was just the perfect Senses Fail show. Singer Buddy Nielsen summed things up perfectly early on in the set when he commented that they were only playing the hits that night.

They took songs from every release and even played their cover of The Cranberries’ “Salvation.” Looking back, the set list did pull mainly from Still Searching, but I didn’t hear any complaints. The only time people got restless was during the comedic ramblings from Nielsen between songs.

Yes, there had to be an encore to close out the show, and I couldn’t clearly hear if fans were chanting ‘one more song’ or ‘1-8-7’ before the band returned to the stage. Had to be both as the only way to end this night was with their classic “One Eight Seven.” It wasn’t a short set, but I was hoping for more. I just have to wait on their promise of a new album and tour dates in this New Year.

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