A band can breakup for many reasons. All too often they are the wrong reasons such as: Fights/disagreements between members, creative rifts, boredom, legal disputes with their record label or management, or other tragic circumstances such as death or imprisonment.
Even if a band can outlast all these circumstances, they will eventually fade away into obscurity or irrelevance. Groups who once had multi-platinum selling records and played sold out stadiums will eventually be reduced to playing shows where only one or two hundred people are in attendance and everyone just wants to hear “that one song.” Very few bands end on their terms and for the right reasons. Anberlin wanted to be one of those bands that ended for the right reasons instead of calling it quits because they hate each other or because of one of the other aforementioned reasons. After speaking with them at this year’s Warped Tour and after their final Salt Lake City performance, their reason for ending the band was this: Legacy.
Guitarist, Chrisitan McAlheny and Joseph Miligan told us that they didn’t want the band to continue to point where something of a chore or something that they do begrudgingly. They wanted to end on their terms.
Their final Salt Lake City show was a very bittersweet one. For those who are unfamiliar with Anberlin’s history with Utah, in 2011 Ultimate Ears approached them about playing a surprise show in any city of their choosing. They chose Salt Lake City and performed in downtown at the Gallivan Center. They also had the privilege of headlining the 2011 X96 Big Ass Show. And they also performed up here at Utah State University at the 2012 End of the Year Bash. Anberlin has always expressed their love for Salt Lake City through all kinds of interviews all over the nation. This was very evident while they held their final performance to a sold out crowd at The Complex on Friday October 17. The Complex holds up to 2,500 people, just to give you an idea of how many people were in attendance.
From the moment Anberlin took the stage, the crowd chanted their name repeatedly. Every break, every pause, the crowd repeated this chant, the whole venue echoed the crowd’s roar of “Anberlin!” It left Stephen Christian and the rest of the band speechless.
The band’s setlist had representation from each of their albums, with a greater portion being from Never Take Friendship Personal, Cities, and Dark is the Way Light is the Place. The most powerful song was their encore of fin. During the song the whole audience raised up their hands in crossed fingers gesture. The band has adopted this hand sign as their logo because of its religious/Christian origin.
Only time will tell what the legacy of Anberlin will be and what will be spoken of the band in ten years from now. Whether they will be remembered as a “one-hit wonder” or as a band that has changed lives is completely up to the fans. To me, Anberlin has been a band that made me want to get involved in the music industry. To me, they have been a band that has made me want to look for the deeper meanings in life and look for the finer things. They will be a constant inspiration for me, even after they are gone. I believe we all need a band/music that inspires us like that.
For those who are unfamiliar with Anberlin, check out this Spotify playlist. It contains a lot of their classics: