Much like my last review, this one will cover some familiar territory. Alkaline Trio is one of my all time favorites, and I’ve seen them plenty of times. They usually do a great job of switching up their set lists to appease long time fans, so I’ve been lucky to hear them play a number of deep cuts and rarities from their back catalog. I was hoping for this type of performance from their show in Providence on April 28th, and for the most part, I got my wish.
Ok, so that first paragraph probably didn’t seem very enthusiastic, but don’t worry, the enthusiasm is on the way. Right after I describe the opening set from An Horse. The Australian duo, who have generated quite a bit of buzz recently, performed a bland set in front of about 100 people. It might have been the early start, or it might have been the empty building, but the band did little to involve the crowd and seemed to mail it in right from the start. That’s not to say they don’t have a number of good songs across their two records or that I don’t think they could be a very entertaining live band, but tonight wasn’t their night.
Next up, of course was Alkaline Trio. They took the stage…. like they had been there before? Not sure what the proper analogy would be here, but they normally aren’t ones to make a grand entrance. Instead, they sauntered down the stairs from the dressing room and took their time getting set before opening with “Private Eye.” Through all the shows I’ve been to, I’ve realized that it’s never a bad idea to open with a track that also serves as the opener to one of your most popular records.
From here on out, they bounced between well known crowd favorites and rarely played songs from the past. In what was a surprising and very well received move, the band focused on 2000’s Maybe I’ll Catch Fire. The album features “Radio,” which the band uses to close nearly every one of their headlining shows. Beyond this track, I don’t believe I had ever heard them play a single song from the record. On this night, they played four of them.
“She Took Him to the Lake,” “You’ve Got So Far to Go” and “Maybe I’ll Catch Fire” might not pack the same punch as “Radio” (what song does?), but the crowd still ate them up. Aside from the set list, the attribute that made this show different, and dear I say, special, was the crowd. Alkaline Trio crowds are always very enthusiastic. That enthusiasm can even border on violent at times. This crowd however, would best be described as euphoric. It was like everyone involved just experienced the worst day of their lives and were doing everything in their power to sing, dance, and sweat it all away. If that was actually the case, then mission accomplished.
Two other highlights of the set from my point of view were “This Addiction” and “We’ve Had Enough.” The former was the lead single from the band’s latest release and pretty much embodies everything I like about Akaline Trio. “We’ve Had Enough” meanwhile, was the undeniably catchy lead single from 2003’s Good Mourning, which for reason doesn’t make it onto many Trio setlists.
As always, the band triumphantly closed the set with a giant “This Could Be Love” sing along, followed by the “Radio” encore. It capped another great Trio set that once again satisfied both long time fans and newcomers. The only thing that could make their legions of fans happier would be to do the type of career spanning shows that a number of other punk bands have recently announced. Imagine Alkaline Trio playing each of their records in their entirety across three or four nights? Sounds like a can’t-miss proposition to me.
If you read this blog regularly (which you almost certainly don’t), you know that I’ve seen Taking Back Sunday many times. I’m starting to lose count at this point, but I think the number is somewhere around ten, including their April 27th show in Providence, RI.
Now this show was very similar to one of their first “reunion” shows last summer in Boston, so if you want a detailed account of what it’s like, look here. If you’re looking for the abridged version, you’ve come to the right place.
To start, Taking Back Sunday is one of the best “club” bands you’ll ever see. Their intensity and stage presence are perfectly suited for small, sweaty venues full of a few hundred (or even thousand) die-hard fans. Lupo’s fits the bill perfectly, and from the second the band took the stage until the final drum stick had been thrown into the crowd, it was bedlam.
As has become their custom, the band opened with the track that launched them from Long Island basements to scene kings in 2002, “Cute Without the E (Cut from the Team). The song inspired the type mob scene usually reserved for your local Wal-Mart on Black Friday.
As with any show, neither the band or the crowd could maintain this level of enthusiasm throughout the show, but they sure did come close. Like in Boston nearly a year earlier, the set list focused on songs from Tell All Your Friends and Lounder Now, with the former being the only album featuring the original (and now current) lineup.
Guitarist John Nolan, who along with Sean bassist Sean Cooper rejoined the band last spring, wore the kind of smile that said “getting back in this band was the best decision I’ve ever made.” Lead singer Adam Lazzara agrees wholeheartedly, as their bromance was on full display between songs.
The band seemed eager to show off the results of their new-found camaraderie by previewing two tracks from their upcoming record. The first was the driving “El Paso,” which certainly won’t be a radio single, but will make for a great live track. The next was “Best Places to be a Mom.” This, in my opinion, is one of the best tracks the band has ever written and bodes well for the new record that will be out in late June.
As has also become a custom, Lazzara and Co. capped the night with “MakeDamnSure.” Thankfully, they felt no need to play the encore game, which would have been out of place in what had been a blistering set.
With their performance, Taking Back Sunday had overshadowed a fine set by Circa Survive earlier in the night. The band had weaved through a mix of songs from their three full-lengths and ensured the crowd was adequately warmed up for the headliners. Circa garnered quite a reaction from those on the floor, many of who danced, sang, and and swayed along throughout their forty minute set.
In conclusion, Taking Back Sunday is a pretty decent live band. While it looked like they were finished following the release of New Again two years ago, the return of Nolan and Cooper has reinvigorated not just the band’s members, but the band’s image as well. Suddenly the bandwagon is getting more and more crowded everyday, and as long as they continue to put on shows like this and release tracks like “Best Places to be a Mom,” I’m sure there will always be room for more.
While Alkaline Trio’s most recent releases haven’t contained many surprises, the same can’t be said of their lives shows. Each of the five times I’ve seen the band, they’ve busted out a track or two that no one in the crowd saw coming, whether it be a b-side like “Queen of Pain” or an older gem like “Cooking Wine.” Needless to say, I was excited to see what type of curve balls they would throw into the set on their “This Addiction” tour. While the band chose a set list that was more predictable than in the past, the night wasn’t without its surprises.
The show began with a set from the Dear and Departed, a set which we missed the majority of. The wait between the openers was very short, as Omaha cult-favorites Cursive took the stage after only fifteen minutes. The band put in an effort that was at times sloppy, but also energetic and entertaining. There was virtually no banter between tracks, as Kim Kasher and Co. ripped through song after song. The set list focused mainly of the band’s last three albums, with Ugly Organ fare receiving the strongest reaction from the rather small contingent of Cursive fans in the crowd.
While the band had been joined on past headlining tours by a full brass section, that wasn’t the case on this tour. The difference was at least somewhat noticeable, especially on older tracks. Songs from the band’s most recent album Momma, I’m Swollen such as “I Couldn’t Love You” and “From the Hips” were the highlights of the set, at least from where I was standing.
After agonizingly long wait in between bands (40 minutes to be exact), Alkaline Trio took the stage. They kicked off the show with This Addiction, the title track from their latest album. While the record has only been out a few weeks, it still received quite a reaction from the Providence crowd.
More familiar tracks such as “Armageddon” and “We’ve Had Enough” drove the crowd insane… literally. Rarely, if ever, have I been part of such a spastic group of fans. If they weren’t violently flailing in the pit attempting to hit as many people as possible, they were shoving everyone in sight in a lame attempt to get back at whoever had bumped into them. It was obnoxious, to say the least.
Dealing with the crowd certainly did take away from the show, but the band sounded better than ever. The usually suspect vocals of Dan Adriano were surprisingly clear on tracks such as “Crawl,” and This Addiction standout “Dine, Dine My Darling.” Guitarist Matt Skiba was solid as always, especially on the new track “Dead on the Floor”
While Alkaline Trio has specialized in set list surprises of late, the band played it conservative on this night, highlighting This Addiction material and focusing on past hits. The encore featured a little bit of both, with Adriano shining on “Fine” and the crowd exploding for closing number “Radio.” Squeezed in between was Misfits cover “Attitude.”
All in all, the band put in a great effort, but a so-so set list and equally mediocre crowd stopped this from being as a truly great show. Hopefully, the band decides to switch it up a little more on their next tour, and the crowd remembers they’re at a show and not a street fight. If both of these things happen, it will make for a very memorable night. If not, it will still be worth the price of admission.
Alkaline Trio set list
Dine, Dine My Darling
We’ve Had Enough
Dead on the Floor
Nose Over Tail
Attitude (Misfits cover)
Lupo’s, Providence RI
October 14th, 2009
Three years. That was the last time AFI had visited the northeast or done any major touring. For die hard fans like myself, it had been far too long. With the release of Crash Love, AFI was finally ready to hit the road and debut their new tracks, new outfits, and new hairdos.
Their second of four New England appearances brought them to Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel in downtown Providence, where they had last appeared along with the Explosion in 2006. That show had seen the quintet at the height of their popularity, supporting both a chart topping record in Decemberunderground and single in “Miss Murder.” Crash Love has not seen the same type of success, which may be why the band performed as if they had something to prove to those in the audience.
The show featured only one opening band, UK-based hardcore outfit Gallows. What could (and probably should) have been another bland set from a band most weren’t familiar with turned into a thoroughly enjoyable 40 minutes. This was mainly due to the antics of frontman Frank Carter. After playing two songs that featured little crowd participation, Carter climbed down from the stage and into the crowd, mic in hand.
Positioning himself at the back of the small dance floor, Carter proceed to sing the remainder of the set from the complete chaos that surrounded him. While I haven’t been to many hardcore shows, I found this move to be both unbelievable and completely awesome. Gallows is apparently bigger in Providence than I had expected, for there were a host of bandanna-clad fans ready to mix it up and show off their headcore dancing skills.
And of course, there were some not so savvy fans who decided to join in as well. One was a young female who shoved Carter and then challenged him to a fight. The somewhat stunned frontman stopped the music and had the girl repeat the question into the mic, which earned a laugh from the rest of the crowd. Carter then shook his head and jokingly encouraged the girl to pick a fight with any of the other boys in the crowd, for they would be happy to oblige.
After closing the set back on stage with “Orchestra of Wolves,” Gallows would make their exit, along with at least a handful of their fans. After the standard 30 minute wait, AFI took the stage, one member at a time, dressed in their trademark black, except for lead singer Davey Havok. The charismatic frontman instead was decked out in a sparkling polyester suit. I don’t think anyone was surprised.
They would being the set with “Torch Song,” the first song from Crash Love. While it is a solid track, I don’t think it works well as an opener, and most in the crowd didn’t seem to think so either. Things would pick up quickly though as the band ripped though “Girls Not Grey” and “Leaving Song Pt. II,” both of which woke the crowd up in a big way.
Next the band would debut another Crash Love track, this being “Too Shy To Scream.” Unlike “Torch Song,” this did inspire quite the sing along, as did the moody “Ever and a Day,” the only Art of Drowning-era song to make the set list.
Throughout the set Havok danced around the stage as if he were the lead actor in a dramatic play, while guitarist Jade Pudget and bassist Hunter Burgan barely avoided crashing into each other as they raced back and forth. After playing “Kill Caustic” and “End Transmission,” Havok stopped to ask if anyone in the crowd was 18 years old. After a few in the crowd cheered, Havok proclaimed “so is this song” before launching into “Self-Pity,” which appeared on 1995’s Answer That and Stay Fashionable.
Following “Beautiful Thieves” was “Dancing Through Sunday,” which featured a blistering solo from Puget that was one of the highlights of the set. It’s remarkable how good this band sounds live, especially compared to some of their counterparts. The show would then slow down considerably with “The Leaving Song” and “On the Arrow.” Both were a very nice addition to an otherwise fast paced set.
The band would close with the trio of “Death of Seasons,” “Medicate,” and “Love Like Winter.” Despite being Crash Love’s first single and most familiar track, it inspired only a half-hearted sing along. “Love Like Winter,” on the other hand, not only sounded CD-quality but also inspired another huge response from the crowd.
As the band walked off stage and the house lights stayed down, I took a look at my watch to see that the band had spent less than fifty minutes on stage. I was hoping for a long encore, but knowing the band rarely played long sets, certainly wasn’t expecting one. After returning to the stage, the band would play an upbeat cover of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” before transitioning to two of their biggest hits, “Miss Murder” and “Silver and Cold.”
While “Miss Murder” may not be the band’s most original work, it certainly brings the house down in a live setting, and it didn’t disappoint tonight. Closing the show with “Silver and Cold” was an interesting choice and it worked well, as Havok raised the mic stand high in the air and let the crowd do the singing during one part of the song.
As “Silver and Cold” concluded, the band took their bows, and slowly left the stage. The set had only lasted an hour, and it absolutely flew by. It’s almost understandable that AFI would play a shorter set, for even a world class athlete would be exhausted after sprinting around stage the way they do. Havok’s vocal theatrics also must be commended. The frontman deftly moved from vocal cord-shredding screams on “Kill Castic” and “Death of Seasons” to huge melodic choruses on “Girls Not Grey” and “Beautiful Thieves.” Overall, the show was another memorable AFI performance, and while the absence of older material was disappointing, the new Crash Love tracks packed the type of punch that could rock stadiums. Maybe some day.