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.