By Marc Vera
Updated March 22, 2007 at 06:59 PM EDT

How did I spend my Wednesday night? Unlike most of the country, I wasn’t home watching the drama unfold on American Idol. Instead I was at the Take Action Tour (featuring Emery and the Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, among others), which had finally hit Rochester, N.Y. Yes! Screamo at its best! Is there any better way to spend an evening? I think not!

Before going, I knew I’d be one of the oldest people in attendance (and I’m not really that old). But this did not deter me from going; besides, I still get carded going to R-rated movies, so how bad could it really be? Actually, not so bad after all, for there were more than a few dazed parents walking around. There were also a slew of prepubescents, but what can you do?

The Take Action Tour is put on by Sub City, a label that donates a portion of its record proceeds to nonprofit organizations. The tour donates a portion of each ticket sale to teen suicide prevention. Many of the acts spoke about the crisis line 1-877-YOUTHLINE. It wasn’t preachy, it was sincere, and for once at a show, the crowd listened.

But on to the music!

started things off, only after ear-piercing shrieks filled the venue once the lights went down. Their sound — kind of like a mixture of emo with Styx (no lie! I thought Dennis DeYoung was on stage!) — wasn’t really my thing, but the kids seemed to like it. No moshing, no dancing.

A Static Lullaby were up next. They came out to the intro music from The Lion King. Huh? All I can say about them is that their lead singer screamed so viciously, my throat was bleeding after their set. How he can keep that up on a nightly basis is beyond insane. Take a listen to “Hang ‘Em High” and imagine those vocals 1,000 times more intense. At least their merch guy was into them –every time I looked over, he was either air drumming or headbanging while playing air guitar.

Scary Kids Scaring Kids (one of the best band names ever) were next to grace the stage. These guys
know how to seriously kick it. Bodies flew, arms flailed, some kid got punched in the face in the pit, the keyboardist crowd-surfed. The dad next to me missed all this, as he was sitting on the floor, entranced playing games on his Palm-type apparatus. That’s too bad, because Scary Kids have gracefully married synths, screamo vocals, and Metallica-inspired riffs. Brilliant. Check out “My Darkest Hour” to see what i’m talking about.

Finally, it was time for Emery (pictured). I’ve been a mad Emery fan since I first heard The Weak’s End. But if there is a band that can seriously give My Chemical Romance and Panic! At the Disco a run for their money, Emery is it. They played three new songs last night, each of them easily a massive hit, especially “The Party Song.” It’s the first time I’ve seen a crowd react so wildly to new songs, clapping along and throwing their friends on stage. Usually they just stand there pissed that they don’t get to hear a song they know.

Another reason I’m an Emery fan: No makeup, no theatrics, just pure adrenalin. Their keyboardist flung his keyboard into the air (multiple times) and then did manic flying kicks across the stage. One of the vocalists sang while crowdsurfing and never lost his balance, while one of the guitarists threw his guitar so high I thought it was going to kill him on the way down. I’ll admit it — I was “one of those people” during Emery’s set. I was swaying, I was singing along, but NO! I was not crying. Maybe on the inside, but not for all to see.

I have a rule with concerts: When a band is amazing, I leave, so as not to ruin the experience if the next band isn’t so hot. (This rule forced me to miss Ida a few years back.) So, since I wasn’t officially covering this show for EW — just thought I’d share some casual observations — I left before The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus took the stage. But tell me, PopWatchers, did I miss out on something even better than Emery?