Story of the Year’s debut album, ‘Page Avenue,’ turns 20, reigniting nostalgia and the early-2000s emo music vibe on tour.
On November 9th, McMenamins Crystal Ballroom in Portland, OR, welcomed the St. Louis-based band Story of the Year, featuring lead singer Dan Marsala, guitarist Ryan Phillips, bass player Adam Russell, and drummer Josh Wills. My introduction to Story of the Year came earlier this year when they hit the road with Yellowcard to celebrate the anniversary of Ocean Avenue. Though I grew up listening to Yellowcard, I hadn’t delved into SotY until my partner surprised us with tickets to their show in New York City. I was immediately hooked and felt compelled to catch their hometown show in St. Louis, where Yellowcard played all of Ocean Avenue and SotY performed all of Page Avenue. Almost as soon as I returned to Portland, Story of the Year announced their own reunion tour, and I was thrilled to witness this energetic and enjoyable band in the Pacific Northwest.
Fortunate to secure meet-and-greet tickets, I joined an enthusiastic group of die-hard fans at 2:10 in the afternoon. Many among us in the meet-and-greet cohort had life-changing stories involving Story of the Year as the pivotal element. One man shared how their song ‘The Antidote’ had aided his recovery, crediting the band for his survival. Another brought his teenage son, who had been listening to Story of the Year with his father throughout his life. One person had the birds from Ryan’s guitar tattooed on their forearm. Several had tattoos inspired by the designs of their previous records. The overwhelming feelings of love, joy, and camaraderie enveloped us. The band played a few requested songs for the meet-and-greeters, then hung out, shared laughter, and signed numerous items. One fan had every single album on vinyl, and the entire band signed each one. Two ardent fans brought guitars for the band to sign. It was incredible to witness how many lives this band had touched, just in one Oregon city.
The show featured two opening acts, Youth Fountain (whose bass player exuded incredible energy and joy) and Four Year Strong. Both delivered fantastic performances that made me wonder how Story of the Year would surpass them. During their set, the singer and guitarist proposed to his fiancée, leaving the entire crowd elated and thrilled.
Once Story of the Year graced the stage, it became evident they were here to steal the show. Ryan and Adam dashed across the stage, engaging the crowd and feeding off each other’s energy. Dan, one of the finest frontmen of my generation, elevated the audience’s excitement with every song. Mosh pits formed, people surfed the crowds.
They played Page Avenue in its entirety, then launched into an encore featuring a fantastic mashup of all the emo hits one wished they’d heard live in 2009. The spirit of Warped Tour thrived in Portland, reviving the essence of alternative, emo, pop-punk, or hard rock—it’s back, baby!