With so many things happening this holiday season, it was nice to take a day to breathe it all in. On Saturday, Dec. 19, at Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, I attended Taking Back Sunday’s Holiday Pop-Up Shop presented by, naturally, The Aquarian Weekly. As many of you know, this is the second year that they held a party during the day in between two nights of shows at Starland, selling merchandise, and hosting various vendors. This year was an amazing turnout, and I had the best time. Starting off the day with load in and setting up, I made my way around the room while listening to Taking Back Sunday rock out to a full sound check. What could be cooler, honestly? I got to meet many vendors and local businesses selling their products, including True Jersey and Tiger Cuts. With holiday spirit in the air, and kids waiting in line in Santa hats, I knew we were in store for a good time.

To start the day off right, the infamous Pork Roll Truck was on site, getting everyone on site to have a full belly before they blew some money inside. Taking Back Sunday had extremely cheap prices on all of their merchandise, opening the doors for some eager fans. While everyone shopped, they also had the chance to take pictures with Santa, enjoy some homemade soda, and even mingle with the band members of Taking Back Sunday. I couldn’t help but smile when I saw fans getting to interact one on one with the band, taking selfies, Christmas photos, and getting the band to sign their recently purchased merchandise. With about two hours of shopping and mingling under their belts, fans were ready for the band to take the stage for an acoustic performance.

Around 4 p.m., two members took the stage. They played requests, holiday songs, and talked for quite some time, providing an extremely intimate experience for fans of all ages. As if back-to-back nights of Taking Back Sunday live weren’t enough, the Pop-Up Shop put a unique spin on the holiday shows; it allowed everyone to mingle and get to know the band on a more personal level. Vocalist Adam Lazzara even brought his kids on stage, playing with Nerf guns, and having them address the crowd. To say it felt like you were sitting in the band’s living room singing Christmas carols would be an understatement.

The day ended great, as fans got back in live for the full plugged-in show that night, and I walked away with a smile. I hope this tradition continues with Taking Back Sunday, as fans left with memories they will cherish forever, empty wallets, and full stomachs from Jersey Pork Roll (naturally). I met a ton of new people that day, and I cannot wait until next year when this event is even bigger and better!

Happy holidays, everyone!

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