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Fall Out Boy Comeback Tour Hits Boston

pat b&w

Fall Out Boy
NK
May 26th 2013
House Of Blues Boston 

Fall Out Boy. There’s a lot to say about this band, but nothing that hasn’t already been said before. And that’s why I’m ending this review right here. Or at least I should, because it’s probably going to be a lot longer than it needs to be, so here’s the short version:

Fall Out Boy returns from four year hiatus. Announces new album and club tour. Tour sells out in seconds. Band releases Save Rock And Roll, which debuts at #1. Band makes triumphant return to Boston in ridiculous fashion. Show includes teenage girls lining up in the freezing rain 12 hours prior to doors opening, Pete Wentz wearing leather pants and some sort of kilt, a lot of flashing lights, and Patrick Stump completely stealing the show.

If that last sentence didn’t make you gag and you’re still reading, here’s the unabridged version:

The show started with scores of people standing in line in the wasteland that exists behind the House of Blues. I’ve seen long lines at this venue, but never one that wrapped all the way around the building like this. The box office had opened at 3PM to allow fans to pick up their “will call only” tickets, and it was obvious that hundreds of fans had arrived much earlier than that.

Despite the line, everyone seemed to make their way inside in time to catch the opening set from Long Island’s NK (formally know as North Korea). The group is led by Ryan Hunter, the charismatic former lead singer of Envy on the Coast. Hunter’s previous band was an underground favorite that had unfortunately called it quits after only two albums in 2010. Hunter is joined in the band by Envy guitarist Brian Bryne, as well as Dilinger Escape Plan drummer Billy Rymer.

NK's Hunter and Bryne

NK’s Hunter and Bryne

“Diverse” would be a good way to describe the band’s sound, as they bounced from Rage Against The Machine-like aggression to Incubus-esque polish, even including a slowed-down “island jam” towards the end of the set. The band’s performance was surprising in that it sounded almost nothing like any of the member’s previous work. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it also means it will be an uphill battle to establish the same type of fan base Envy On The Coast once enjoyed.

After thanking Fall Out Boy for the opportunity to open the show, NK made their way off stage as the countdown to the headliners began. There was very little movement in the crowd, as those who had waited hours in line for a good spot had already staked their claim to the prime viewing spots. As the break carried on past the standard half hour, everyone in attendance began to get antsy, until the lights and music finally cut off and a spotlight illuminated the giant white screen covering most of the stage.

Behind this screen, the shadows of the four band members could be seen as they made their way on stage to Jay-Z’s spoken word intro to “Thriller”. Soon enough, the white screen fell to the floor, revealing the band behind it and inspiring even louder and more ear-splitting shrieks from the crowd.

Lead singer Patrick Stump bounded up to the microphone to start the song while Pete Wentz jumped off a riser at the front of the stage and started spinning in circles like a top. Stump’s booming vocals, Wentz’s theatrics, the falling curtain and all of the flashing strobe lights made for an appearance completely befitting of a band that seems to relish this kind of spectacle.

While some things never change (Wentz’s penchant for showboating instead of actually playing the bass), some thing’s certainly have since the band’s early days. Lead singer Patrick Stump, for example,  has always seemed rooted to the microphone stand and entirely uncomfortable in front of the screeming masses. There was also a time when he wasn’t that great of a singer. What a difference a few years and a couple of gold records makes.

pat7

The newly slimmed-down Stump literally stole the show, rendering Wentz an unlikely supporting character. When not belting out the huge choruses that make up most of the band’s songs, Stump was racing from one end of the stage to the other or jumping up on the risers, all the while keeping up with his responsibilities as the band’s rhythm guitarist.

Stump commented at the start of the show that he was starting to loose his voice and he would need the crowd’s help in singing along. If this is what his voice sounds like on a bad day, it’s hard to imagine what it sounds like on a good day. Stump handled just about all of the set’s 20 songs with ease, and if there were times when he was off, the crowd was too loud for anyone to notice.

The band did include all of their biggest songs, many of them coming early in the set, including “A Little Less 16 Candles A Little More Touch Me”, “This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race”, and “Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy” (and wow does this band have some obnoxiously long song titles).

While it was nice to hear the hits, it was all of the non-hits the band played that made the set special. These tracks included “Disloyal Order Of The Water Buffalo” and “What A Catch Donnie” – both from 2008’s Folie a Deux. While the album may not have been as well received as their previous work (and was a big reason they went on hiatus), I think these tracks stack up well against anything else they’ve done, and the rest of the crowd seemed to agree based on their reaction.

Another of the show’s high water marks came in the form of “Hum Hallelujah” from 2007’s Infinity On High. Wentz dedicated the song to Boston, saying the city had “been through a lot over the last month”, and then stepped aside to let Stump’s soaring vocals to once again steal the spotlight.

pete and pat

While primarily focusing on newer material, the band did dust off a few choice cuts from their landmark 2003 effort Take This To Your Grave, including “Tell That Mick He Just Made My List Of Things To Do Today”. Many of those in the audience may have been under 10 years old when the record was released,  but that didn’t stop these songs from inspiring huge sing-alongs that at times made Stump’s presence seem unnecessary.

The set came to a close with two more  solid performances, beginning with a  lively rendition of “I Don’t Care”, the Folie a Deux lead single that may have been a radio flop, but was very well received on this night. They then transitioned into current lead single “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light ‘Em Up)” – which has not suffered the same fate as “I Don’t Care”, selling over 1 million downloads since its release.

After making their way off stage for a quick break before the encore, the band returned to play “Save Rock And Roll” while the screens behind them displayed images of rock legends like the Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Prince, and Johnny Cash. While it seems ridiculous for a band like Fall Out Boy to be insinuating that they are carrying on in the same tradition as these heavyweights, you do have to appreciate the ambition. During the song, Stump did his best to channel another legend, pounding away at the piano and covering the vocals sang on the album by one Elton John.

pete

Bringing down the curtain on the show was the duo of “Thnks Fr Th Mmrs” and “Saturday”, the Take This To Your Grave track that has served as the band’s set closing number for as long as anyone can remember. As is the norm, Wentz put down the bass during this song to climb into the crowd and pass the mic to those who had dedicated their entire Sunday to being close to the stage for the 90 minute set.

The band then took their bows and made their exit while many in the crowd lingered, hoping to find a stray guitar pick on the floor or the friends they lost track of at some point during the set.

If you were at the show, you would probably agree that Fall Out Boy’s comeback is looking like a huge success. Of course, when you are a band that was as big as Fall Out Boy was, you’re always bound to have a dedicated fan base that sticks with you and can help you pack smaller venues like this. The real test will come this fall, when the band embarks on a national arena tour, which will provide a good indication as to whether this comeback is going to be short-lived on whether the band really is primed to return as one of rock’s biggest acts.

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The Ten Best Shows Of 2012

January 11, 2013 Leave a comment

2012 was a great year for live music in the Boston area. Here is the creme of the crop, according to me:

 

1. Refused at House of Blues Boston, July 20th

One of the greatest hardcore bands of all time proved that their reunion was not just a Cochella money grab when they announced an extensive world tour that stopped in Boston in August. Their 90 minute set was overwhelmingly intense. The aggression  precision, and showmanship the band displayed defied every law that should govern a group of 40 year olds that had called it quits 14 years earlier. It would seem natural to say I wish I could have seen them in their prime, but I’m pretty sure this was it.

2. Bruce Springsteen at TD Garden, March 26th 

There’s no such thing as a bad Bruce show, but a few factors made this one special. It was Sprinsteen’s first Boston show in three years and coincided with the release of his new album Wrecking Ball. While the tour would make multiple stops in New York and New Jersey, this was the only scheduled Boston show and had sold out in minutes. The three hours sets included a soul melody inspired by the band’s recent performance at the Apollo Theater, an epic encore with the house lights on, and everything else that has made Sprinsteen and Co. rock’s most consistent performers.

3. Motion City Soundtrack Double Header at Bamboozle Festival, May 19th 

While there was no explanation as to why MCS was slated for two slots on the same stage at the Bamboozle Festival in Asbury Park, NJ, you weren’t going to hear any complaints from me. Their two appearances, one in the early afternoon and one much later at night, covered a good chunk of their discography and included very few repeats. They garnered the most enthusiastic crowd reaction that I saw all day, which is pretty impressive considering they were competing with the likes of the Foo Fighters on the main stage.

4. The Gaslight Anthem at the Middle East Downstairs, July 22nd 

The Gaslight Anthem is way too big to be playing a 550 capacity venue, but that didn’t stop them from doing a small club tour in advance of their new album Handwritten this summer. Their show at  the Middle East featured a lot of old tracks, previews or a few new ones, and a whole lot of sweat. 

5. Jack’s Mannequin at El Rey Theater, November 11th 

The band’s final two shows acted as a benefit for the Dear Jack Foundation and helped to raise $50,000 for childhood cancer research. Andrew McMahon and company’s second to last show featured a very well crafted career spanning set list that even included Something Corporate favorite “Konstantine”

6. Crime In Stereo and I Am The Avalanche at Gramercy Theater, November 24th 

Crime in Stereo quietly called it a day in 2010, leaving their fans with little information as to why they had broken up or what they planned to do next. Their 2012 reunion was as unexpected as their breakup, and their first show back proved they still had it.  An adrenaline packed opening set from local favorites I Am the Avalanche started things off on the right foot, and had the crowd ready for what would be a memorable 90 minute performance from the headliners. Their set mirrored their discography in that it was as haunting as it was powerful. Frontman Kristian Hallbert danced in and out of the venue’s brilliant, bliding spotlights while the rest of the band tore through each song as if they had never been apart.

7. Coldplay at TD Garden, July 29th 

Chris Martin and Co. returned to the Garden for two sold out shows that featured all of the theatrics you would expect for $130 a ticket. This included light-up bracelets that were handed out to everyone in the arena, which the band controlled to made the show look a whole lot like the recently completed Olympic Opening Ceremony.

 

8. Fun at House of Blues Boston, April 21st 

It’s not very often that you get to watch a hardworking band get the attention that they deserve, but that’s exactly what happened to fun in 2012. After their excellent debut album Aim and Ignite was largely ignored, a Super Bowl ad and a few radio spins helped fun become one of the year’s best success stories, and they made a stop in Boston just as their stock was about to shoot through the roof. The crowd’s reaction to the band’s every move made it obvious that a sold out show at the House of Blues was just the start of something very big.

9. Frank Turner at Royale, September 6th 

Frank Turner also had a standout 2012, shooting from cult favorite to rock radio staple. He would play two sold out shows at Royale in September, and the first proved that the success certainly hasn’t gone to his head. Turner and the Sleeping Souls played great mix of songs new and old and made sure they weren’t overshadowed by opening act Larry and his Flash, who had put on a great show in their own right.

10. Bouncing Souls at House of Blues Boston, August 4th

While a half empty House of Blues may seem like a strange location for a Bouncing Souls show, the surprising absence of both bouncers and a barrier in front of the stage made for the what was easily the craziest show I’ve been to at the venue since it opened four years ago. After an excellent opening set from the Menzingers, the Bouncing Souls took the stage for what at first seemed like a snooze fest, as the band debuted a number of tracks from their recently released album Comet. When fans realized there would be no repercussions for making their way on stage, the stage diving competition was in session for the rest of the show.

 

Very Honorable Mentions

Say Anything, Murder By Death, Fake Problems at House of Blues Boston

Neon Trees at the Paradise

The Killers at Agganis Arena

Andrew Jackson Jihad at TT the Bears

Joyce Manor at TT the Bears

Tigers Jaw And Transit Play Late Night Encore Set In Allston

October 17, 2012 Leave a comment

Tigers Jaw
Transit (Acoustic)
What We Talk About, Allston MA
October 12th, 2012 

Have you ever been to a basement show? I for one have not, but I
can’t even count the number of times I’ve heard someone say they saw a
successful band in someone’s basement before they got big. Whether
these claims are true or not is hard to say, but it’s easy to
understand why these basements shows are often recounted as borderline
religious experiences.

A set played without barriers, security, rules, or even a stage
pretty much removes everything that is bad about live music –
everything that puts the performers both literally and figuratively
above everyone else in the room.  A basement show is all about the
music and the energy it creates, and everything else gets left at
door.

On Friday I got a chance to experience what is about as close as I’m

probably going to get to a basement show. Scranton, PA’s Tigers Jaw had

just played a sold-out show at the Democracy Center in Cambridge
earlier in the night. Apparently, a number of fans had gotten shut out
of the show, and instead of being left out in the cold until the band
made it back to Mass, they told those who had been turned away to
check their Facebook page for details on a second set later that
night.

Sure enough, the band posted plans for a set in Allston, but they only
sent the address to those who posted in a certain thread. With a
little bit of research, I was able to find out the show would be held
at a venue known as “What We Talk About”, which is about a ten minute
walk from my apartment. By this point is was around midnight, but, why
not?

Tigers Jaw

We headed over to the venue, and while the space isn’t technically a
basement, the lack of windows and exposed piping could have fooled
anyone into thinking it was. Tigers Jaw took their spot on the floor
as maybe 40-50 people gathered just a few feet from their mic stands.
I had never actually listened to the band before, and maybe a basement
show isn’t the best introduction considering the sound quality, but I
thought they sounded very good throughout most of the set. The crowd
at the front was very enthusiastic, even if many of them were hearing
these songs for the second time of the night.

Next up was an acoustic set from Stoneham, MA’s Transit featuring lead
singer Joe Boynton and guitarist Tim Landers. According to Boyton, the
band was back home after a recent tour and were looking to play as
many shows as possible. They had jumped on this show last minute after
(apparently) attending the first Tigers Jaw set.

While the crowd had thinned, about 25 people stayed to hear the duo
play about 5-6 songs, all of them from their most recent release
Listen And Forgive, save for “Outbound” from the Stay Home EP. To say
the set was laid back would be an understatement, as Boyton joked
with those at the front, including one fan who accused him of
stealing his hoodie, which Boyton said he had bought at Target for
$20. Clothing jokes aside, the Listen and Forgive tracks continue to
shine in a live setting.
By the time Transit wrapped up their set, it was after 2AM – meaning
both bands had traveled across town to work some serious overtime in
order to make their diehard fans happy. It’s the type of dedication
and sincerity you don’t see from many bands today. It’s also why it’s
easy to imagine everyone in attendance recounting the story of how
they saw Tigers Jaw and Transit in a basement before they got big a
few years down the road. I know I will be.

“You Should Have Ran While You Had The Chance” – Morrissey Opens North American Tour In Boston

October 9, 2012 Leave a comment

Image

Morrissey – Wang Theater, Boston – October 5th, 2012

Morrissey has long been one of music’s most polarizing figures. To some,
he is a living legend and pop-culture icon. To others,
he is a self-absorbed ego maniac. Love him or loathe him,
you have to admit that part of Morrissey’s appeal lies in the fact that he is a
walking contradiction: a wildly successful rock star who sings
about misery and loneliness. That
contradiction is what brought thousands of adoring fans to Boston’s
striking Wang Theater to see the first date of Morrissey’s massive
North American tour. The trek will see him visit just about every major
and minor market across the country, culminating with a stop at the
Staples Center in Los Angeles.

While I’m not very well versed in the specifics of Morrissey’s set list
choices over the years, I do know that the former
Smiths frontman often sprinkles in a few choice cuts from his former
band. I also knew that he tends to stray away from the more
radio-friendly fare that helped make him a household name as a solo
artist in the late 80’s and early 90’s.

Beyond these unwritten rules, the possibilities seemed endless on the
first night of the tour. As Morrissey stepped out on to the stage
with his band following close behind, the crowd erupted. The cheers
got louder and louder as Morrissey calmly stepped to the front of the
stage to take a pre-show bow, and then kicked off the set with “You
Have Killed Me”.

From the very start, it was obvious that Morrissey had come to put on
a show, looking and sounding well rested and ready to tackle North
America for the first time in three years. He added a certain amount
of grit to his normally polished songs, often growling certain words
or lines for extra emphasis. His band was happy to play along, sounding
louder and heavier than on any recordings.

While the set was expertly performed, it would best be described as
“uneven” in terms of song selection and pacing. More upbeat fare
(maybe upbeat isn’t the word) such as “Every Day Is Like A Sunday” and
“I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris” garnered huge reactions from the
crowd and were some of the best moments of the set. However, most of
these songs came at the start of the night.

The show lost a good deal of momentum in the middle of the 90 minute set, as the
band strung together the quartet of “Last Night I Dreamt That Someone
Loved Me”, “Fantastic Bird”, “People Are The Same Everywhere”, ” And
“Meat Is Murder”. The latter featured a graphic animal cruelty video projected on the backdrop.
At that point, the crowd was getting anxious.
Morrissey and crew then segued into “Scandanavia,” which was one of four
songs that the band played that hadn’t been include on any other 2012 set list.

Following this, Morrissey broke out the Smith’s classic “I Know It’s
Over”, which sounded absolutely perfect and helped to revitalize the
crowd. The set would then close with “I’m OK By Myself”, the last
track from his most recent album, 2009’s excellent “Years of Refusal”.
By this point, many of those who had front row seats were rushing the
stage, and while the crew did their best to repel them, a few
did slip by to score an awkward embrace with the man himself.

After a short break, Morrissey and the band returned to the stage for
a one song encore, the Smiths track “How Soon Is Now”. Stretching nearly seven minutes long, the song gave the overly eager fans at the front another chance to bum-rush the stage, and they certainly took advantage of it.
At the conclusion of the song, Morrissey and the band joined arms and
took a post-show bow.

While the set certainly was not the feel good event of the year, most
fans got exactly what they were looking for out of this performance.
Both Morrissey’s vocals and his band were spot-on, and his stage
presence is unmatched. While this was far from a greatest hits set, it did represent a good
cross section of Morrissey’s career. While this appealed to the many
die-hard fans in attendance, the show probably wouldn’t win
over anyone who had been on the fence, but most of those people probably
made up their minds on Morrissey years ago.

It Only Took Ten Years To Become An Overnight Success: FUN. Live In Boston

April 24, 2012 1 comment

FUN. is having the type of year that defines the term “breakout year”.  The band has seen their single “We Are Young” soar to the top of the pop charts after being featured on an episode of Glee and in a Super Bowl commercial.”We Are Young” became the first rock track to hit #1 since Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” in 2008, an astonishing feat when you consider that rock radio stations continue to disappear, making it much harder for bands like FUN. to enjoy this type of crossover success.

Of course, the good times don’t stop there for the trio of Nate Ruess, Andrew Dost, and Jack Antonoff. The band’s new album Some Nights has received positive reviews from fans and critics alike, and their North American tour has become one of spring’s hottest tickets.

Many of those who have been exposed to “We Are Young’s” gigantic hook, FUN. is just the latest overnight pop sensation – a studio creation that is probably the result of focus groups and million dollar producers.They’ll enjoy their 15 minutes of fame, make Live Nation a few bucks through VIP packages at some cheesy radio festival, and then be forgotten by this time next year.

The crowd that gathered at the House of Blues knew that this wasn’t the case. Unlike the upstart pop stars many would compare them to, Dost, Ruess, and Antonoff have toiled in relative obscurity for the better part of a decade in a number of different projects, never seeing the success they deserved.

Ruess had started as the lead singer of cult favorites The Format from 1999 through their breakup in 2008,  and helped create one of the greatest pop-rock records of all time in 2006’s Dog Problems. While The Format certainly played their share of sold-out shows, they never saw the type of commercial success that many (including their record label) expected from them.

Antonoff, meanwhile, has played guitar in Steel Train since 2002. Like the Format, Steel Train has released a number  of excellent albums to little fanfare. In fact, the band’s biggest tours have been slots opening for FUN. and The Format. Dost, meanwhile, earned his stripes as a member of Anathallo, an indie band that some worshiped and others just didn’t get (I fall into the later category).

All the while, the trio had built  a small but dedicated fan base that would become the foundation of FUN’s  breakthrough. These fans had snatched up all of the tickets early, and were ready to sing every word, whether it be to “We Are Young”,  “The Gambler” from their debut album, or even their cover of the Rolling Stones “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”

Ruess’s booming, theatrical voice and commanding stage presence made every song seem like an event. From the opening notes of “One Foot” through the end of the 75-minute set, the band was loud, energetic, and pretty much spot-on. Ruess  and  Antonoff are both well versed at mugging for the (iphone) camera, and the risers positioned at the front of the stage didn’t hurt. Ruess, sporting Rajon Rondo’s green Celtics jersey  jumped up on one of the three black boxes to hold the mic out to the crowd and let them shout the chorus back to him on a number of occasions . He repeatedly thanked those in attendance and praised Boston for being so great to him over the years.

The setlist seemed evenly split between tracks from their current album and 2009’s Aim and Ignite. The band closed the show with an encore of “Some Nights,” and  “Take Your Time.” The former will be the band’s next single, and could very well prolong the band’s chart dominance for another few months. After this, FUN. (apparently) came back out for a second encore consisting of “Be Calm” and “All Alright.” Seeing as I missed this second encore, I would like to say that second encores are ridiculous and should be outlawed

Aside from the missed opportunity at the end, this was one of the more exciting shows I’ve witnessed in a long time. To see a band explode from cult favorites to mainstreams stars is something that just doesn’t happen all that often. When it does, you hope it will happen to a deserving group that has paid their dues, and FUN. certainly fits that description. Only time will tell if the commercial success will continue, but one thing is for sure, and that is  that the band’s dedicated fans will stick around for a long time – meaning FUN. is likely to be anything but a flash in the pan.

Jack’s Mannequin Spot-On In What Could Be Last Boston Appearance

February 7, 2012 Leave a comment

Jack’s Mannequin
February 3rd 2012
House of Blues, Boston  

Short version: Jack’s mannequin played a show in Boston. They were great. They normally are. You should seem them live. But if you missed this show, you’ might be out of luck.

Slightly Extended version: On Friday night, Jack’s Mannequin brought down the house, again. They were making their first proper Boston appearance since the release of their third album, People and Things,  and with a history of memorable area appearances, everyone in attendance knew they were in for a great show. Just one question lingered, and likely won’t be answered for some time: was this the band’s final time playing in the city?

In a recently published interview with Andrew McMahon, the band’s frontman/mastermind had, in a vague, artist speak kind of way hinted that the band had run its course. He said the project wasn’t as enjoyable as it once had been, and it might just be time to move on. This didn’t come as a complete surprises when you considering McMahon originally intended Jack’s to be a one-off side project, and it was now going into its seventh year. Also, Places and Thing, despite being a solid album, didn’t receive the type of enthusiastic reception the band’s first two efforts had.

While McMahon didn’t acknowledge the future of the band during the show, and most in the crowd were probably unaware of these comments, those who did know realized this could be the end of something special. If this tour is indeed the last hurrah, the band demonstrated they plan to go out swinging.

The night opened with a set from Allen Stone (which I missed). Philadelphia three-piece Jukebox the Ghost then took the stage. Their forty-five minute set was relatively well received by the crowd, which at this point had already packed the House of Blues.

Jack’s Mannequin  kicked off their set with “Bruised” from debut album Everything in Transit. While the band had plenty of new material to show off, this older favorite had the crowd singing along so loudly McMahon had to battle to be heard.

While it quickly became obvious from the set list this was the People and Things tour, McMahon and Co. did a good job of mixing in songs from their first two records alongside new tracks such as “Release Me”, “Amy, I”, and “Amelia Jean.”

While these new songs didn’t receive quite  the reaction that many of the older tracks did, most of them were more impressive and packed more of a punch than they do on the record. McMahon has said that People and Things was recorded as more of a full band effort and less as a solo  project, and this seemed to benefit the group’s live show.  In an ideal world, the band’s performance of “Hey Hey Hey (We’re All Gonna Die)” and “People Running”  alone should boost sales of the new record by at least a few hundred copies next week. It probably won’t happen, but both of these tracks were show-stoppers.

Good record sales or not, McMahon’s stage presence is second to none. Even in a cavernous venue packed with 2,000 people, you couldn’t help but feel like he was playing you songs in his living room. The stage set up didn’t hurt, for the band was surround by household lamps and blue light bulbs suspended above the stage. At other times, two giant “mirror balls” (as McMahon described them) set the venue awash in light.

The rest of the band’s set didn’t feature any real curve balls. “Bloodshot” “Holiday From Real” and clos

to the encore, the band returned to the stage to perform the acoustic track “Restless Dream,” which they followed by “My Racing Thoughts” ( although I could be wrong on that one though).ing number “Dark Blue” all received huge reactions from the crowd, as they always do. Never ones to skimp when it comes
to do it.Finally, the band would bring the night to a close with “La La La Lie”, another Everything in Transit staple. Basked in confetti and “mirror ball” light, the band would make their way off the House of Blues stage for what very well could have been the final time. If this in fact was the last Boston appearance, going out with a superb set in front of an ecstatic sellout crowd isn’t a bad way

Going Out in Style: Thursday’s Farewell Tour Hits New Haven

December 29, 2011 2 comments

Thursday Farewell Tour
Toad’s Place, New Haven CT
December 28th 2011 

With the release of 2001’s Full Collapse, Thursday changed the course of alternative music. While the scene they helped create may not be remembered in the most favorable light, the band has consistently challenged musical conventions over the past 11 years, and done so with as much sincerity and integrity as any band could.

That is why it is a shame they have never equaled the success of Full Collapse. With each album, the band’s record sales and popularity fell, despite the fact they continued to earn glowing reviews for both their new releases and live shows. In April of 2011 they debuted their fifth proper full length, No Devolucion. It was a radical, “art rock” departure from their earlier work that quickly became one of the year’s best reviewed albums, even if not one of its best selling.

Short openings slots on tours with My Chemical Romance and Taking Back Sunday in front of largely uninterested crowds followed before the band then announced a proper headlining tour. In late November, they proclaimed the tour would be their last, save for a brief run of Australian dates in 2012. The band cited personal issues for calling it quits, but it can be assumed the difficulties of making a living as a band for so many years had taken its toll.

Their final headlining tour would come to a close with a string of East Coast dates during the holidays, with New Haven, CT being the third to last stop. The band had a history of playing at Toad’s, a venerable rock club close to the campus of Yale University. Their final show there would prove to be a memorable one, as both the band and their fans poured all of their energy into one last performance.

The night began with opening sets from Aficionado and Connecticut’s own Make Do and Mend. I was able to catch a number of songs from the latter, and wasn’t terribly impressed until their closing number, “Night’s the Only Time of Day,” which showed quite a bit of potential.

New Brunswick, NJ trio Screaming Females followed, showcasing their bass-heavy brand of garage rock. In addition to playing a very impressive lead guitar, frontwoman Marissa Paternoster is a vocal powerhouse, and her talents help the act stand out from many of their peers. While the band doesn’t have fantastic stage presence, they sounded great, and their set seemed well received by the large crowd that had already gathered.

The main support act was Philadelphia’s MewithoutYou. The band has earned somewhat of a cult following after touring extensively with the likes of Thursday and Brand New in the past, but has never earned the same type of breakout success as those two bands have. They played a nearly 45 minute set that had many in the crowd moving and singing along. They tended to blend at least a few of their songs together, and took only short breaks between others. While I’m not terribly familiar with their work, I would say they sounded much better than they had the one other time I had seen them.

After a nearly 40 minute wait (which is really pushing it at a show with five bands), Thursday took the stage to the tune of No Develucion’s “Open Quotes.” The crowd immediately surged towards the stage as fists flew through the air. While not one of the band’s better known songs, the intensity the band and the crowd displayed during this number would set the tone for the rest of the night.

Next up was “For the Workforce, Downing”, which is one of the band’s best known songs. The intensity was turned up a few more notches as frontman Geoff Rickly climbed on top of a monitor at the front of the stage, grabbed onto a support beam and leaned as far as he could into the crowd. With no barrier separating the stage from the fans, literally dozens of   people made their way on stage during this song alone, forcing the band to take a short break afterward to rearrange all the gear and peddles that had been trampled during the melee.

While Thursday had played 16 songs sets at previous shows, Rickly announced they would be playing longer on this night due to special requests from their road crew, the first of which was “I Am the Killer” from Full Collapse. The band would do a very good job showcasing songs that spanned their career while still featuring six songs from their most recent effort. This was important because this tour would prove to be the only chance they had to play anything from No Develucion as a headlining act.

Throughout the set, the crowd somehow maintained their level of intensity. At times it seemed the only ones getting more of a workout than the fans were the bouncers responsible for corralling crowd surfers as they reached the stage. Even during the set’s more mellow moments, the crowd continued to rage. At one point, Rickly said something along the lines of “We need to play a fast song now because you guys are killing each other during these slow songs.” The band would then launch into “At This Velocity” from 2003’s War All the Time, which was one of the set’s best performances.

For someone who has a reputation for between-song story telling, Rickly’s between song banter was at least somewhat constrained, although he did thank the fans on numerous occasions for sticking with them throughout the years and for their enthusiasm on this night. This enthusiasm would peak during “Cross Out the Eyes,” the song that had helped put the band on the map ten years earlier.

The only full length that Rickly and Co. seemed to ignore was 2008’s “Common Existence”, that is until the schizophrenic  “Resuscitation of a Dead Man” was featured as the last song of the set. After a very short break, the New Brunswick crew made their way back on stage and promised a three song encore, which began with the slowed down “Stay True.” The song was dedicated to the night’s first two opening acts, who Rickly credited with reminding him of “why he got into punk rock in the first place.”

After a nod to the holiday season, the band played the opening notes to

“Jet Black New Year” and the crowd swung back into action. The marathon (once again, considering there were five bands)  20 song set would then conclude with fast-paced closer “Turnpike Divides.”
It was now 12:15, and the sun had officially set on Thursday’s final New Haven show. Their powerful performance reminded everyone in attendance why they had grown to love the band in the first place, and why it would be tough to see them go.   While they may have ended up a casualty of a flawed record industry and shifting tastes, those in attendance are likely to remember Thursday as the band that poured their souls into every album and every live show, especially their last one.

Thursday Setlist Toad's Place, New Haven, CT, USA 2011