On December 8, I made my way to The Social in downtown Orlando to see Relient K performing as the headlining act in the “Twas the Tour Christmas Tour” with Deas Vail and Sherwood. I’ve been to this venue a number of times and it truly is always a pleasure to see great music played live in such an intimate setting. Squished in the pit area, I had a great time watching the three talented bands play fan favorites and spark some holiday cheer.
Sherwood and Deas Vail Open on the Relient K Christmas Tour
Both bands played roughly thirty minutes set and I had a good time watching both of them. Deas Vail was certainly provided the softest, “prettiest” set of the night with their angelic, dream-like form of indie-pop and Sherwood got a lot of the fun started with their upbeat music and fun, albeit bizarre, brand of humor. In fact, their guitar player was eerily reminiscent of Zach Galifianakis.
I must admit, I’m not awfully familiar with the music of either of these bands, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying their breezy sets. I’ve heard some of Deas Vail’s old work, but nothing off their latest album, Cages—this will certainly change after tonight. I thoroughly enjoyed their artful, understated style and beautiful lyrics. Sherwood is a bit more formulaic for my taste, but they’re certainly not boring and even with their music stripped down to nothing more than two acoustic guitars, they still were able to stir up a good bit of energy.
Relient K Brings Holiday Cheer and Puts on a Great Show
I don’t know the exact number anymore, but Relient K was one of my favorite bands growing up and remains one of my top faves to this day, so this was roughly my fifteenth time seeing them in concert. The first time was right after the release of The Anatomy of the Tongue in Cheek where they headlined the “Back to the Few Tour” with Bleach and Holland. They’ve come along way and for those who prefer Relient K’s more grown-up sound to that of their silly songs of the past; this was the perfect set list. I consider myself part of that group.
The first portion of the night featured Relient K busting out a number of welcome rarities from their b-sides collection (“The Lining is Silver”, the remarkable “Curl Up and Die”—didn’t expect to ever see this one live but I loved it) as well as songs off of last year’s Forget and Not Slow Down (“Forget and Not Slow Down”, “Candlelight” “Therapy”). In fact, the entire set didn’t feature a single song pre-Mmhmm era, and while I’m a fan of their older music, it certainly made sense in a more mature setting to rely on their more recent material.
There were a few fun surprises throughout the set including a fun cover of Toto’s “Africa” (perhaps made more fun by minor sound issues that had Matt Thiessen very animatedly jerking his head around and trying to get the attention of their sound tech with his crazy eyes…despite the issues, it sounded great) and a thoroughly enjoyable encore including a brilliant infectious take on “Savannah” and a perfectly executed acoustic version of “Who I Am hates Who I’ve Been”.
Another welcome, yet far more serious, inclusion was a new song entitled “What Can I Do?” that they’re working on for an upcoming compilation album designed to raise money and awareness for sex trafficking around the world. It was one some of the strongest lyrics Thiessen has ever written.
As far as the acoustic aspect of the tour, Relient K was a lot less stripped down than the openers. They still played with a full band and while everything had a softer, folksier edge, it was still a bit of a rock show—but it was a terrific sound and there are certainly no complaints here.
As the night winded down, Relient K put their focus on spreading Christmas cheer (which one of the members of Sherwood helped with by placing a Charlie Brown tree on Thiessen’s piano) with some of their loveable Christmas covers including “Sleigh Bells” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” They ended on a perfect note with two of their amazing Christmas originals, “Merry Christmas, Here’s to Many More” and “I Celebrate the Day”, followed by “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”.
As mentioned before, I’ve seen this band at least 15 times, and this was truly was of the most enjoyable performances I’ve ever seen them give. They all seemed to really be enjoying themselves, the crowd was having fun and singing along, and the song selection could not have been more ideal.
Relient K Christmas Tour Setlist
Thinking about checking it out? If you’re like me, you like to spoil the setlist and know what expect, so enjoy!
- The One I’m Waiting For
- Be My Escape
- The Lining is Silver
- Forget and Not Slow Down
- Flare (interlude)
- Must Have Done Something Right
- Africa (Toto Cover)
- Curl Up and Die
- What Can I Do
- I Need You
- Christmas Time is Here
- Sleigh Bells
- God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
- Merry Christmas, Here’s to Many More
- I Celebrate the Day
- Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
- Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been