I was late. I try my best to not be late to shows, but thanks to delays on both the green and red lines of Boston, Mass.''s always unpredictable subway system, I wound up getting to the Middle East in Cambridge about 20 minutes later than I had initially planned. I was there to catch a tour that I had been excited for since its announcement: Touché Amoré, Pianos Become the Teeth and Seahaven.
Even though I was late, I was able to catch around 20 minutes of Seahaven's set. This was essentially my first time listening to the band; I had listened to a little of their debut full-length Winter Forever, but not nearly enough to get a real impression. What I heard impressed me for the most part. Seahaven plays a style that sounds, to me, like an odd mix of Daytrader and Brand New. It's not the most spectacular music I've ever heard, and they certainly could have put some more energy into their set. Regardless, I came away impressed enough that I bought Winter Forever, and these guys are probably a band to watch out for.
Up next was Baltimore, Md.''s Pianos Become the Teeth. Pianos play a sound that is a mix of post-hardcore and post-rock, with a dash of Funeral Diner style screamo. The band played a six-song set split evenly between songs from their debut Old Pride and their second LP, The Lack Long After. Particularly impressive was Pianos' ability to replicate their fairly complex studio sound in a live setting. Through a combination of prerecorded loops, an array of guitar pedals and frontman Kyle Durfey's impassioned vocals, the band put on a spectacular show. Crowd response seemed mixed. While there was certainly a contingent of people already familiar with the band, the vast majority of the crowd was not sure how to react to Pianos lengthy, intense tunes. Regardless, the band did not let up during their 30-minute set. The best moment came when the band closed with The Lack Long After standout "I'll Get By," which ended their set on a beautiful note.
Touché Amoré has had a remarkable 2011. After releasing one of the year's best albums in Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me, they have gone on to tour with a variety of bands in Europe, Australia and the U.S., and are set to support Rise Against's European tour in March. This, their first headlining tour in the U.S., cements them as one of the fastest rising bands in punk. They certainly rose to the occasion. The band ripped through a 45-minute, 18-song set consisting of nearly all of Parting the Sea, along with some of 2009's …To The Beat of a Dead Horse and both songs from their 2010 split with La Dispute.
The crowd was fantastic, raucously singing along with every song the band played, to the point that frontman Jeremy Bolm barely had to use his microphone. Jeremy kept the breaks to a minimum, pausing only to thank the crowd and some Boston-area record labels. Some highlights of the show included: the crowd clapping the intro to "And Now It's Happening In Mine" and drowning out Jeremy during Parting the Sea opener "Tilde" and "Pathfinder." The finest moment came at the end, where the band brought out a keyboard in order to close with "Condolences," "Home Away Form Here" and, finally, "Amends."
I walked out of the Middle East very impressed. I had gone in knowing Pianos and Touché Amoré's live reputations, and they did not disappoint. Seahaven were a little weak but, even so, this is a tour to catch if it comes through your area.
Random Note: I managed to talk to Jeremy a bit after the show, and he mentioned that they had tried very hard to get Joyce Manor on this tour, to no success. If Joyce Manor had been on this tour, it would have gone from "very good tour" to "the best tour ever, maybe."