The Self-Destruction of Saves The Day

saves_the_day

UPDATE: On October 26, 2018, Saves the Day released their ninth studio album, titled 9. It’s pretty good.

The Chicago Bears lost their first regular season game this weekend. To be honest, I don’t know anything about football, but it’s a well-known inside joke that, although the Bears haven’t performed very well the last few years, their fan base continues to follow them relentlessly. The same can be said of Saves The Day.

Though most people know the band’s first few albums, their experimentation over the last decade has been met with enthusiasm from fans willing to listen to anything “Chris Conley and friends” create. However, the events of the Chicago Bears Block Party showed that even the most loyal fans have limits, and sometimes a band can damage the goodwill given to them by being obnoxious.

I love Saves The Day. They were one of my first obsessions in music. I’ve seen them almost annually for the last decade. At the Chicago Bears Block Party, they were the headline event with Lucky Boys Confusion (one of my more well known loves) performing immediately before them. Lucky Boys put on a stellar performance, per usual.

Almost from the moment Saves The Day took the stage, Chris Conley seemed off. From the slow build up to the first song (“All-Star Me”), to the point where the band was actually getting booed on stage, Conley was an example of nearly everything musicians are mocked for. Even now, a few days later, I can’t tell if it was the worst show I’ve seen, or the most entertaining. I don’t even know if it was because he was too inebriated or if it was some type of Shia LaBeouf ‘performance art’ horseshit. But I am worried for the future of Saves The Day. And Chris Conley.

***

Let’s start at the band level. Though the rest of the band played well enough, it seems like they barely played more than 10 songs (including the clusterfuck that was a 10-minute-long session of “A Drag in D Flat”) in a set that was over an hour long. About 20 minutes in, to say that the band looked annoyed would be an understatement. The fact that they continued to play at all, is merit to their professionalism as musicians.

I don’t know what was wrong with Chris Conley in Chicago, or if it is a bigger problem that is plaguing the group. The band actually said at one point that they had “drank all the free beer,” but this appeared to be something more serious. Between the continuous shouts of, “We’re alive! We’re alive!” and the non-stop references to how “crazy the world is and we’re all alive together in the cosmos,” it became far too easy to speculate about Chris’ state of mind.

I would like to say that the low point of Conley’s night was the off-key vocals or stopping to tune his guitar three times, instructing an already pissed crowd to “talk amongst yourselves.” It could have been when he stopped playing music entirely for nearly 10 minutes (I might be exaggerating, but not by much) to talk about how great it is to be alive while the crowd started booing him. Or that during one of his monologues, the crowd actually started chanting “LBC! LBC!” for Lucky Boys Confusion.

But none of that compares to the disastrous performance of “A Drag in D Flat”, a beloved song off of Through Being Cool. Even now, I am not entirely sure that this was the song they were even playing, because I was so focused on how fucked everything was. The band turned a three-minute pop punk anthem into a 10-minute sadness nightmare.

Though Chris seemed like he was about to sing several times, he instead proceeded to turn the song into an extremely long guitar solo and jam session, followed by him looking skywards, seeming to be lost in the continuous verse of guitar riffs from Arun Bali. Then he passed out.

I assume he passed out. I don’t know how else to describe someone toppling over, knocking the mic stand towards the crowd, and laying on the stage for about 30 seconds. The rest of the band continued to play, looking down on him until he returned to the guitar solo while lying on his back. When he got up, he stumbled around the stage and leaned on bassist Rodrigo Palma and Arun for support. This happened for what seemed like minutes at a time. The crowd (at least in my section) alternated between laughing at him and looking around nervously. One woman wondered aloud if “someone should get a medic.”

Chris Conley has always been quirky, which is what gives his music so much charm. Listening to any number of podcasts or interviews he’s been a part of shows that. His music harnesses an innocence interlocked with anger. Conley hasn’t been as angry in his last few recordings, and it’s healthy for artists to change over time, especially if it is towards a happier mentality. But this isn’t healthy, and I’m fucking worried about him.

If this is where Conley is in his life, I don’t know if I want to continue following the band. Everyone has a bad night on stage. Everyone experiments a bit. But there is something darker beneath the surface when a crowd of faithful fans start cheering for another band. At one point, the crowd shouted at the stage, “play a song!” Conley responded with “We can just talk. We’re just people, and we can talk to you.”

***

Saves The Day never make the same album twice. Conley even announced that this was the last show they were playing before going into the studio to record. I hope he is just worn out and blowing off steam before recording. Because if not, I have no idea how this entire process won’t be an absolute mess.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a musician wanting to banter with the crowd or give a message during their set. Usually, the music punctuates those statements into something meaningful. This was someone shouting the same nothing sentence over and over.

I don’t know where his mind was or how annoyed his bandmates were. I don’t know if it was an isolated incident or a more common problem. I hope it’s out of his system. I have a new fear that I never expected: that Chris Conley could ruin his own music if he’s approaching his own work like this.

As much as I have given to support this band over the years, I hesitate to say if I will see them live again if this is how they treat their shows. More than anything, I’m worried about Chris. That wasn’t healthy behavior for anyone. I hope he finds whatever he’s looking for and gets help if it’s needed.

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and saw Saves The Day as his first concert ever. He drove three hours to see them, multiple times.

Comments

  1. Not as big of a hipster as this lame-o says:

    For someone who claims to know a ton about Saves The Day, you should know that A Drag in D Flat was not on “Through Being Cool”. Way too many inconsistencies in this story to cover them all, but know you did a bad job and you should feel bad.

  2. A Drag in D Flat wasn’t on Through Being Cool.

  3. Doesn’t look like they ever headed into the studio after all. I personally think Chris started losing the plot after In Reverie apparently didn’t perform on the charts the way he expected it to, and instead of following his muse, decided to try to return to pop-punk and ride the Fall Out Boy wave (remember this is like mid ’00s decade), dyed his hair pink and sold ever less. I’m pretty sure the trend has continued since then and they went from a progressive, continually improving headlining band to a washed up opener who makes new material that tries to “capture the essence” of their old shit (aka the death rungs of a creatively bankrupt band).

    Overall, it’s very sad to see what happened to Chris. He let the scene kid complaints about In Reverie get to him, and I think it cost him his career. If he woulda kept going in the Stay What You Are → In Reverie direction, I think the public woulda caught up and he’d have a successful career. Alas, he caved to the so-called fans, and now, well…who knows where he is.

    • I have first-hand knowledge that they did, in fact, head into the studio… they are keeping things under wraps and are going to drop something unexpected this year (I was told this summer). The date will be a surprise.

      As to how good it will be, one can only wonder.

  4. wont judge you for the drag in d flat bit, but i can agree with the sentiment of this blog. wtf even happened to saves the day in general..? i begrudgingly accepted the sharp turn towards the hipster indie sound they dove into beginning in “stay what you are.” but what a train wreck the music has become as a result of chris’ “evolution” as an artist, namely with his vocal key change and musical writing style thereafter.

    i had watched a few recent shows found on youtube wherein they played old album setlists, so i was very excited to revisit the vibe of shows i used to see them at. traveled down to asbury park to see them, and was delivered a terrible setlist, with not 1 single track from “cant slow down.” and chris rocking aviators at night like he some kind of rockstar in his own mind. wtf. im so done with these clowns.

  5. Drag in d flat isn’t off through being cool, it’s off a vagrant comp and later released on ups and downs.

  6. Monica Martinez says:

    I have a really long story of how he (likely drunkenly) berated me, my sister, and two cousins after a show for not being good enough fans. It lasted about 10 minutes. We all stood there in tears, having been avid fans for over a decade hearing our hero angrily yelling at us saying we were what was awful about the music scene/touring was devastating. I will write it all down for posterity. I should have long ago. This was back maybe 7 or 8 years ago. Anyway Arun was really nice before and after this happened and it was him and security for the venue that eventually got Chris to stop yelling at us. We were deer in headlights and then. Then he asked us to take a group picture to try and cheer us up? It was fucking strange and we did it cause we didn’t know what else to do. I can find it and send it to you so you can see how fucking weird it is. I have actively avoided his music and anything related to STD so I didn’t realize this wasn’t an isolated event. Now I’m researching if others have written about him in this way and yours was the first one I found. Please let me know if you know of other credible sources relating to this. I’d like to compile it all and send it to my sister and cousins. To this day the 4 of us are so fucking saddened to have lost the ability to enjoy one of our favorite artists.

    • Wow- that’s ver unfortunate to hear. I’ve only had positive experiences, although Chris has definitely gotten a lot stranger over the years and often isolates himself in the bus before and after the shows. I think it all started around the time of his divorce. I know his drug use has gone up too… you can smell it in the bus and half the time it seems like he’s tripping during shows. Anyway, sorry you had to go through that. Where did this happen?

    • Monica, I gotta ask how Chris reasoned that you and your family were “what was wrong with touring or “the scene” or whatever? I mean, I assume dude was probably blasted out of his mind, but regardless, his words must have been coming from someplace real inside of him.

      I honestly don’t know what it is with Chris, but I have some feelings on that. I think he is resentful that he never became a “rock star” like some of his peers or followers (Fall Out Boy, etc) nor did they truly become an influential band to “real” music fans. Bands like Thursday, The Get Up Kids, Jimmy Eat World and others have, over the years, been looked at more fondly even by the snobby indie-rock community, whereas Saves The Day still kinda is looked at (fairly or unfairly) as just more mall punk. I think that bothers him. But hey, that’s the route he took, whereas the other bands listed above took another.

      Anyways, I’m intrigued to hear from you.

      • Back story the year prior we went to see him at Stubbs (all this was in Austin, Tx) when they were opening for Say Anything we (the same cousin I mentioned previously) had made a lil sign that said ‘Please play Jesse ❤’ we got there hours before doors opened so we were front dead center and he saw it and smiled.

        Then after their set was over we decided to leave the show and try and see if we could meet them outside the venue. We did, they were all very sweet and accommodating to us Chris signed our sign and took a pic w us and said he wished he could play it but the limited set time as an opener held him back. We understood and then without us requesting or asking he vehemently and excitedly promised he would come back to austin in the coming months on a headline tour and play it cause he wanted to play those old songs! We were stoked.

        So fast forward to the next fall they played a long set and no Jesse and my Whetstone. So afterward the show we were chatting w Arun who was wonderful btw and Chris walks up to chat w him! Now please understand I had no expectations that he would remember who I was but I did ask “hey can I buy you a beer?” He politely declined so we asked if we could get a picture together and while moving around to do so i asked “do you remember last year outside stubbs? You said you’d play jesse and signed our sign, thats out favorite song!”
        He then silently switched gears and walked quickly away we (including Arun) were confused and followed him thinking we were still taking a pic then he spun on his heel and put his finger in our face and said no to the picture and was obviously angry.

        WE FELT AWFUL. We didn’t mean to offend him or hurt him and also we were confused! Again please know I don’t think any artist or celebrity owe their fans anything not a picture or a signature like I respect that and always ask or just don’t even approach them to leave them be. In this case I was simply wanting to know if he remembered that interaction where HE VOLUNTEERED the promise to play a song we never asked it of him and that’s a distinction I want to make clear.

        Now at this point the band was at the merch table w a long line and we decided we would wait til everyone was done and go apologize. So we did. We waited over an hour if not 2?

        Finally they are free at the merch table we approach and I say “hi we just wanted to say we’re sorry for asking that of you and upsetting you…” but I’m not sure if he even heard cause thats when he just laaaayyyyed into us. It was a public berating, it was abusive, and scary. He was screaming that he had a wife and kid at home and he was out here playing his heart out for ungrateful people who talk during shows and quoting his own song lyrics to us (jukebox breakdown for obvi reasons) and saying we weren’t good enough fans because we just always want more. Mind you we had all been in the front row singing every song lyric to the point where during the show he acknowledged that and smiled at us when we knew more obscure songs that some of the crowd didn’t. He just kept going and going and the security guards and band mates finally had to physically disrupt him and sorta pull him a step back.

        I’m not saying all that to act like I get to claim him, he’s a human, but he’s shitty. My little sis was barely 18 and looked 14 and I swear he enjoyed making her cry. Once he snapped out of the ranting he realized we were all silently crying (four young women ages 18 to 27ish) and he didn’t know what to do so he was like awww come on lets take that picture! Like if it was gonna make it better.

        I cried myself to sleep that night. Sobbed and sobbed. Then I had a nightmare that it happened all over again but this time w everyone that I ever disliked or who disapproved of me.

        It was one of the most humiliating and traumatic verbal altercations I’ve ever been a victim of. And that’s cause I spent 4 years with a narcissistic a hole. Knowing that he had to be stopped by his band mates and security. It was so fucked man. Especially cause we 4 LOVED saves the day. They were our favorite band of all time and this person we admired so much and who wrote music that helped us through our lives in our small town was saying we were bad at being his fans… It hurt. And it still hurts actually thats why I can’t listen to the music anymore. I haven’t since that night. I hear his voice and I remember him looking at me like he hated me.

        Damn unpacking all that was hard.

  7. Wow Monica that was nuts. I don’t know if you are still on here, but I just wanted to say that. And I’m sorry that had to happen to you.

  8. anonymous says:

    I played in a few bands in chicago and had some run ins with chris at some local bars on the north side cause that is where their current bassist is from. Every time he was completely blasted and on multiple drugs. Talked to some of his bandmates and they said more or less he just completely messed up and takes drugs and drinks nonstop. A little while after that, saw rodrigo and asked about chris and apparently he has moved back to new jersey with his parents for a bit to get a grip. Around the same time as the block party in chicago. Seeing videos and interviews since then he seems to have been doing better.

    • Dude- you’re completely off base. Chris still lives in California where he has lived for the past 15 years. His mother lives out in Cali too and his father is in Jersey. His parents aren’t even together… he has a daughter who he helps take care of also. Wanna know how I know? Because I know him and I keep in touch with him. So, please don’t throw out random rumors unless you know what’s really going on

      • JD, I think perhaps the anonymous poster was not so off base. I think it’s definitely possible that Chris had so blatantly lost his shit in 2016 that perhaps he did go out to his dad’s place in NJ or something to clear his head and/or get some help.

        As I said earlier though, he definitely seems like a guy who has lost the plot. Even with that new album in 2018 where he claims he’s in this great head space, he’s writing diss songs about Eben, who at that point had left the band like 14 years earlier. That does not sound like a well adjusted human in harmony with the universe. To me Chris is a major waste of talent. The work he did on Stay What You Are and In Reverie was something to behold and to a fan like me it seemed like he was just getting started. Unfortunately, Chris most likely got really jealous that bands like Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance were selling major records (way more than he ever did) with shitty versions of what he was doing 5 years before. So like any totally sane person, he abandoned his artistic progression, dyed his hair pink and wrote a bunch of mall punk songs.

        The whole sunglasses thing all the time is weird too. Who is he, Bono? And writing albums about the history of Saves the Day after a 5 year wait? Utter shit.

        Even the fact that he abandoned the promising Patreon idea becuz unlike other bands I’ve followed he wouldn’t put up the material or the access for the amount of money that he was asking. Other groups would offer very rare or unreleased material on a weekly basis for download. What did Chris do? He re-recorded old stuff (cool idea) but only posted one a month and at first you could only stream it despite whatever exorbitant fee he was asking for. Finally he relented and made them available for download. Soon after he abandoned Patreon, likely because he has issues and couldn’t even keep up with something like that.

        Truly though, I hope he beats all this. Chris I think definitely has his regrets and I hope at some point he truly finds inner peace and doesn’t use it to sell a new album. Just really try to get his shit together and take care of his daughter. She doesn’t need to see videos of her pops losing his shit on stage or yelling at fans like our friend up thread.

  9. Welp, this article and thread has earned a whole lot more cred in the last few days…. egh.

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