Acceptance Brings Catchy Pop-Rock Back to SoCal for Album Release Show

El Rey Theatre

For one night only, SoCal’s diehard fans of Acceptance got the chance to witness something many of them likely believed would never be seen again: the Seattle-based quintet performing an album release show for the brand new follow-up to 2005’s Phantoms. Often associated with the recently revitalized emo movement of the mid-2000s, the group delivered the type of energetic singalong performance their dedicated fan base has come to expect — full of catchy and anthemic tunes from both sides of their decade-long hiatus.

Kicking off the set with the first track released from Colliding by Design, “Diagram of a Simple Man,” singer Jason Vena, guitarist Christian McAlhaney (who spent the decade away from Acceptance as the guitarist for Anberlin), and the rest of the band proved that they can entertain a crowd with poppy rock tracks just as well in 2017 as they did over a decade ago. Considering that the only other time Acceptance had stopped in the area since reuniting was for a few sold-out shows during the summer of 2015 — at which point they’d only created one new track in roughly 10 years — the energy and joy that spread across the venue from the opening track and Phantoms’ “In Too Far” was an undeniably welcome sign for both the band and the crowd to begin the evening just a few minutes after 10 p.m.

The group continued their set with a bevy of tracks both new and old, ranging from the classic “So Contagious” to just-released tunes like “Goodbye” and “We Can Escape.” For their first show in a month (and only fourth since October), Acceptance didn’t seem rusty at all. In fact, on more than one occasion the guys in the band looked just as happy to be in the comfortably full theater as any of the late-twentysomethings in the crowd.

Between flexing his vocal range with catchy melodies such as those on the new “Haunted” and older “Getting Over You,” Vena took time every few tracks to either thank the audience or share a bit of less-known information about the band. With the bulk of the crowd there undoubtedly watching one of the bands that got them through high school (or college) back in the day, hearing anecdotes about the band reuniting and how the new album came to be was almost as exhilarating as finally being able to belt out the lyrics to “The Letter” and “Glory/Us.”

After wrapping up their hour-long set, Acceptance returned to the stage for an encore of “Take Cover” for arguably the biggest crowd reaction of the night. But when the group went to thank everyone and leave for the night, a “one more song” chant grew so quickly before any of the five members could actually disappear that they had to happily return to their instruments for renditions of “This Conversation is Over” and “Permanent” after not being able to choose which one to perform due to the crowd’s applause at the mention of each of them.

Although some of the more casual fans may have been a tad bit disappointed they didn’t get to hear “Different” one more time, no one left the El Rey upset. After all, for those of us who remember when “emo” was an insult in the mid-2000s, seeing Acceptance in person is a hell of a lot better than any of the shitty “Emo Night” events spreading like a plague across the country.

Set List
Diagram of a Simple Man
In Too Far
Take You Away
We Can Escape
So Contagious
Getting Over You
Come Closer
The Letter
Fire and Rain
Take Cover
This Conversation is Over

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