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Alkaline Trio and Saves the Day in Worcester

Alkaline Trio
Saves the Day
Nightmare of You
The Palladium, Worcester
May 2nd 2009

When you’ve seen a band enough times, you come to know what to expect from their live shows. You know the songs they’re definitely going to play, you know what the encore will be, and you know which songs everyone will sing along to the loudest. There’s nothing wrong with this, for if a band puts on a great show that the fans are happy with, why make any changes? This is what I expected from Alkaline Trio’s headlining show at the Palladium in Worcester on May 2nd. The show was my fifth time seeing the band in the past year, the first two being headlining shows, and the latter two supporting Rise Against. To my (very pleasant) surprises, the band did not follow the normal formula, instead playing a set that contained almost none of the songs I had heard them play in the past, perfectly mixing tracks both old and new.

The show began with a thirty minute set from Nightmare of You, a band that was once considered “the next big thing” after the release of their self-titled debut in 2005, but has done very little since that point. The group’s set list consisted mainly of tracks from that debut, along with a new cut from their second album, which is set to be released this July. The band’s performance was marred by the borderline awful sound at the Palladium, as Brandon Reilly’s smooth vocals were often drowned out by the drone of Brandon Meyer’s bass lines. The crowd, which was rather sparse at this point, was quite unenthusiastic with only a few in attendance bobbing their heads or showing any familiarity with the band.

Next was Saves the Day, a band that has maintained a rabid fan base despite the fact their last three records haven’t been all the successful. This was evident by the amount of fans who tried to squeeze their way to the stage after Nightmare of You’s set. I’ve seen Saves the Day a number of times over the past four years, and I hate to admit it, but this was certainly the worst performance I’ve witnessed from the band. While they sounded fine, the set list, and the length of the set itself, left most of the Saves the Day fans in the crowd very disappointed. For one, the band only played for about 40 minutes, and for fans that are accustomed to seeing Saves the Day play much longer headlining sets, this came as somewhat of a shock. Next, the band did include a few old favorites in the set list, but they were mixed in with too many new songs, which for the most part acted as crowd killers. While cuts like “Radio” and “Driving in the Dark” are fine songs, they certainly aren’t the band’s best work, and instead of sing-alongs, they elicited mainly blank stares. This is not to say there weren’t some high points, such as “Shoulder to the Wheel” and “Freakish,” but for the most part, they were too few and far between. Saves the Day made matters worse by closing the set with “Kaleidoscope,” a long and dull number off their latest album that completely drained the energy from the room.

Luckily, Alkaline Trio would take a completely different route during their set, playing older fan favorites that they had been neglecting on previous tours. After casually walking out on stage after an agonizing 35 minute wait, the band would greet the crowd and begin the set with “My Friend Peter,” a fan-favorite that instantly worked the audience into a frenzy. Next was “If We Never Go Inside.,” a track from 2003’s Good Mourning. This hinted at what was to come, for the band played more songs from this record than off any other albums, including last year’s Agony and Irony, which was only represented by 2 songs.

While Alkaline Trio fans seemed to have  mixed feelings towards Good Mourning, it was the album that introduced me to the band, so I was loving every minute of it. The band would also play “One Hundred Stories,” “Donor Party,” “Fatally Yours,” and “All on Black,” from this record, as well as “This Could Be Love” to close the set, and “Every Thug Needs a Lady” as the first song of the encore. Other old favorites included in the set were “Cringe,” the lone Goddamnit” song represented, “Cooking Wine,” and “I’m Dying Tomorrow,” all three of which received huge reactions from the crowd. While everyone seemed to enjoying themselves at the show, the crowd was certainly the tamest I had seen at an Alkaline Trio show, possibly the result of the more obscure set list that had some of the younger fans scratching their heads and waiting for more Agony and Irony tracks. The band however would only offer Calling “Calling All Skeletons” and “I Found Away,” from that record, ignoring lead single “Help Me,” and announcing about half way through the set they had parted ways with Epic Records.

The crowd seemed less than surprised by this news (the idea of Alkaline Trio on a major label was always somewhat odd), and the band debuted a new song for the first time. While the song sounded good, the band would apologize for the “B” effort. Lead singer Matt Skiba told the crowd they hoped to get in the studio this summer and then self-release a new album next fall. Throughout the set, Skiba and guitarist Dan Adriano were more talkative than I had seen them, and they both sounded great when actually performing their material. At one point, Skiba went off on a tangent about the greatness of 70’s rock band Grand Funk Railroad. While the band had looked slightly uncomfortable int heir opening role for Rise Against the last time I saw them live, they were certainly in their element tonight.

The band would close the show as they normally do, playing “This Could Be Love,” leaving the stage, and then returning for an encore that concluded with “Radio,” which of course inspired an enormous sing along. Overall, a show that got off to a disappointingly slow start turned out to be as memorable as any I’ve seen, thanks solely to the performance of Alkaline Trio, and band that knows exactly what their fans want and seems to deliver every single time.

Alkaline Trio Set List (Not in exact order)

My Friend Peter
If We Never Go Inside
Burn
Fatally Yours
I’m Dying Tomorrow
All On Black
I Found Away
Donner Party
Cooking Wine
Calling All Skeletons
Sadie
One Hundred Stories
The Poison
Cringe
This Could Be Love

Encore
Every Thug Needs a Lady
Radio

Saves the Day Set List (might not be exact)

Anywhere With You
Always Ten Feet Tall
Radio
Where Are You
Shoulder to the Wheel
Eulogy
Freakish
Can’t Stay the Same
Driving in the Dark
Head For the Hills
Rocks Tonic Juice Magic
Kaleidoscope

Nightmare of You Set List ( I think)

I Don’t Want to Dance Anymore
My Name Is Trouble
Amsterdam
The Days Go By Oh So Slow
I Want To Be Buried In Your Backyard
Why Am I Always Right
Heaven Runs on Oil

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Funeral for a Friend Finally Comes to America

January 28, 2009 2 comments

hpim0384The Color Fred,  Angels and Airwaves, The Early November, Metro Station. What do these bands have in common? Well, not much, other than the fact that I don’t think that highly of any of them, and probably wouldn’t go out of my way to see them live. However, I’ve seen all of them perform… twice. Why is this important? Well, I’m using it to show you just how strange it was that January 25th, 2009 was the first time I had the chance to see Funeral for a Friend, one of my all time favorite bands, perform live. The Welsh quintet has made only a select few appearances on American soil as of late, mainly a stint on the 2006 Warped Tour, and a brief summer headlining run to support 2007’s Tales Don’t Tell Themselves. On this night, they would take the stage at the Upstairs portion of Worcester’s Palladium with The Sleeping, Emarosa, and This is Hell.

While I missed both This is Hell and Emarosa, I wasn’t exactly heartbroken, considering this night, at least for me, belonged to Funeral for a Friend alone. However, I did have the (dis)pleasure of seeing The Sleeping in the main support slot. Frontman Doug Robinson did his best to stir up the crowd, and despite the fact that the Palladium sound was borderline atrocious and his vocals were barely distinguishable, he did get those in attendance moving for at least a while. The band started the set by furiously reeling off some of their most aggressive songs, including “Don’t Hold Back,” which had the crowd screaming along with fists in the air. The Sleeping then decided to slow it down, a questionable call considering the crowd seemed to lose interest after this. As the band finished off their set, some made their way for the exits, but most in the crowd began to inch closer to the stage in anticipation for an event that had been a long time coming.

As Funeral for a Friend took the stage, frontman Matt Davies took a second to survey the small but enthusiastic crowd before the band launched into “The Year’s Most Open Heart Break.” The fans near the front were elated by the choice, and sang along to one of the band’s oldest songs. This would be indicative of the rest of the set, for the band did a suburb job of mixing in old favorites with tracks from their most recent release, Memory and Humanity.

From here, the band would play Roses for the Dead, one of only two songs they would preform  from 2005’s Hours. The set would be dominatedhpim0398 by tracks from Memory and Humanity and 2003’s Casually Dressed and Deep in Conversation. Songs from the latter record, arguably the band’s strongest effort, including “She Drove Me to Daytime Television,” “Novella,” and “Juneau” were a more than welcome surprise, and received the greatest response from the crowd. On a number of occasions Davies let those at the front of the stage do the singing while lead guitarist Chris Coombs-Roberts proved that the band’s musical prowess isn’t simply studio magic. While Davies didn’t talk for long, he did make a point of addressing the crowd on a number of occasions,  and at one point  he told the crowd Worcester was making a strong case for inclusion on the band’s next US tour, which he promised would not take another two years to become a reality.

The band debuted a number of tracks off their latest record, including lead single “Waterfront Dance Club,” “Rules and Games,” “Constant Illuminations,” and “You Can’t See the Wolves for the Forest,” which Davies passionately told the crowd was about “not letting anyone tell you how to think or what to do.” While the new tracks didn’t receive the same response as the Casually Dressed favorites, most in the audience did seem to be familiar with them. One unfortunate aspect of the night was the fact that the band did not play what I consider to be the new record’s two best tracks, “Kicking and Screaming,” and “Beneath the Burning Tree.”

hpim0396The band decided to stack the end of the show with some of their strongest tracks, including “Reunion (Into Oblivion),” which inspired a huge sing along and was (somewhat) surprisingly the only song played off of 2007’s ambitious yet sub-par Tales Don’t Tell Themselves. The band would also perform “Streetcar,” the second song from Hours, and then close the set with “Escape Artists Never Die,” a song the crowd had been impatiently requesting all night.

As the band left the stage, the crowd began to chant for one more song, but to everyone’s surprise, the house lights went on and a security guard began to clear the crowd. No encore? Apparently not. The fact the band was making such a rare US appearance, had played for only an hour, and then had the nerve not to perform an encore was irritating to say the least. Despite this fact, the hour they had spent on stage was everything I could have hoped for, as the band executed a great set-list like the well-oiled machine they have obvioulsy become after years of international touring. They sounded great, interacted well with the crowd, and made the long wait seem more than worth it. However, they still have to make up for the lack of an encore. I would suggest another area show sometime soon would do the trick.

Funeral for a Friend Setlist

This Year’s Most Open Heartbreak
Roses for the Dead
Waterfront Dance Club
She Drove Me to Daytime Television
Maybe I Am
Juneau
Rules and Games
Novella
Constant Illuminations
Into Oblivion (Reunion)
You Can’t See the Wolves for the Forest
Streetcar
Escape Artists Never Die

    Rise Against and Alkaline Trio in Worcester

    October 14, 2008 1 comment

    This is the tour of the year. If you think differently, I think you’re wrong. Any time you pair two of today’s biggest and most prolific punk bands on the same bill, you’re certain to get great shows that will attract thousands of fans at venues all across the country. Throw in one of the scene’s most innovative post-hardcore bands, along with an act generally acknowledged to be “the next big thing,” and you have a touring match made in Heaven. Monday’s date in Worcester at the Palladium somehow lived up to the hype, providing one of the most intense live show experiences I’ve ever been apart of, while confirming the headliner’s standing as one of today’s most popular, influential, and vital rock bands.

    The night began with a short set from New Jersey’s The Gaslight Anthem. The much talked about and self

    The Gaslight Anthem's Brian Fallon

    The Gaslight Anthem

    described “soul band” put on a very enjoyable show that mainly featured material from their latest release The ’59 Sound. Lead singer Brian Fallon’s signature “soulful” vocal work took center stage while guitarist Alex Rosamila admirably led harder driving songs such “Old White Lincoln” and “The Backseat.” While only a few in the crowd (which was already quite large at this point) seemed to be familiar with the act, the band seemed to do well in winning them over during the set.

    Next was Orange County’s Thrice. While the band has strayed quite far from their post-hardcore roots with their most recent releases, they showed that they can still bring the heat in a live setting. Dustin Kensrue spent most of the set screaming his lungs out, while drummer Riley Breckenridge pounded his kit into oblivion. For the first few songs, I couldn’t help but think “wow, these guys are heavy.” However, that thought soon turned to “wow, these songs all sound the same,” and then transformed into “wow, I’m kind of bored here.” Despite their technical prowess, I simply wasn’t that interested in their set. They did end on a high note however with “The Earth Will Shake,” a standout track from their 2005 record Vheissu. I have plenty of respect for the band and their ability to write great songs, but I was a little to excited to see the two bands that would soon take the stage.

    Next, a black banner embossed with a familiar logo was unfurled, candles were lit, and all hell broke loose.

    Alkaline Trio

    Alkaline Trio

    Alkaline Trio took the stage to a roar from the crowd and broke into “Private Eye.” The band just happens to have two perfect songs with which to open a set (and a record), and they segwayed  into “Calling All Skeletons,” the biting first track from their latest effort Agony and Irony. The band then continued the onslaught with old favorite “I Lied My Face Off.” While they might not have been the headliner, it was obvious that the majority of the crowd knew Alkaline Trio and knew them well, judging by the reaction to this song.

    The band would go on to play the staples from the new record, including “Help Me,” “In Vein,” and “I Found Away.” They also played “Over and Out” for the first time ever. “Cringe,” the opening track from Goddamnit was a very pleasant surprised and received a huge reaction from the crowd. The only iffy point  was the Crimson track “I Was A Prayer,” which is a nice song, but didn’t quite pack the energy of any of the set’s other songs. The band would close with another huge sing along moment in “This Could Be Love,” during which guitarist/front man Matt Skiba pointed out an enthusiastic fan and had the rest of the crowd sing the chorus to him. What has surprised me each time I have seen Alkaline Trio this year, and especially on this night, is how much fun they seem to be having on stage. Many veteran bands who have seen the same type of success would scoff at an opening role, especially after having released a major label debut earlier this year. However, both Skiba and bassist Dan Adriano had huge smiles on their faces for the majority of the time and were undoubtedly excited to playing the show. While a headlining tour may suit them better simply due to their enormous catalog, they were the perfect warm up for another venerable Chicago favorite.

    Rise Against

    Rise Against

    Rise Against entered the room to some type of distorted spoken-word introduction which was mainly drowned out by static and the cheering crowd. From here, they would burst into a furious rendition of “Drones.” In the few glances I caught of front man Tim McIllrath during the song, it looked like he was perilously close to suffering a burst vain and/or crushing the microphone. Such intensity would continue into the next song, “Give It All,” the band’s first breakthrough hit. From here on out, it’s a little difficult to remember exactly what was played because I was more concerned with surviving than taking mental set-list notes. I’ve been to a lot of shows, and a lot of rough ones, but this one might take the cake in that area, and I have the scratches and bruises to prove it.Throughout the set, bodies were being thrown around like rag dolls in the pit, and I’m pretty sure I’ve been in car crashes that were more pleasant than what I experienced when I ventured into the center of it. Luckily, everyone was watching out everyone else, and the second someone hit the ground there were often four hands there to immediatly pick them up.

    The fact that I didn’t exactly see most of what happened on stage shouldn’t take away from another excellent Rise Against performance. They sounded great, and while the set list was heavy with tracks from 2006’s The Sufferer and the Witness, there was enough of a mix of old and new to keep most fans happy. The band played three new tracks from Appeal to Reason, set to be released the next day but already for sale at the band’s merch table. They were lead song “Reeducation (Through Labor),” album openner “Collapse” and the haunting acoustic number “Hero of War,” which was played near the end of the show along with “Swing Life Away.” Two songs from 2003’s Revolutions Per Minute were also played, those being “Like The Angel” and “Halfway There.”

    The band finished their set with a bone-crushing combination of “Survive,” “Under the Knife,” and finally “Prayer of the Refuge,” which insipred a wild pit that consumed most of the floor. By the time the lights came back on and the band had left the stage, many in the crowd were covered in sweat and bruises, but most would agree that they would trade the opportunity to see a tour this good for a few aches and pains any day.

    Rise Against Set List (Probably not in order or quite right)
    Drones
    Give It All
    Injection
    State of the Union
    Ready to Fall
    Re-Education
    Chamber the Cartridge
    Stained Glass and Marble
    Behind Closed Doors
    Like the Angel
    Collapse
    Bricks
    Halfway There
    The Good Left Undone
    Hero of War
    Swing Life Away

    (Encore)
    Survive
    Under the Knife
    Prayer of the Refugee