Hot Water Music just recently ran through the east coast in the fall, but it was easy to welcome them back to New England with a pair of buzzworthy openers. The Menzingers have slowly been growing into a solidified and confident live act, and this stint opening for a band that surely influenced them deeply did not shake that. While I've already seen the band play in support of On the Impossible Past too many times to count, this was another welcomed half-hour of joyful self-deprecation ("The Obituaries") slash sad bastard emoting ("Casey," "Gates"), with a few more songs from 2010's Chamberlain Waits than usual thrown in, including set closer "I Was Born" (as they had done on their preceding run with Taking Back Sunday). The reaction was quite good for a first opener, with noticeable fingerpointing all across the front.
Set list (8:30-9:02):
So It Goes
Burn After Writing
I Was Born
La Dispute's direct support slot on this tour reminded me (for what will be obvious to some) of when Alkaline Trio toured with mewithoutYou in 2011-except, interestingly, La Dispute's draw here at Pawtucket, RI's The Met was far more evident than mwY's at NYC's Irving Plaza. It was a good, adventurous choice I appreciated HWM making. I've seen LD a few times over the course of the last year but it was here that they attracted a particularly strange, unexpected crowd: gangly, nü-metalcore-oriented teenagers (spotted: an I Wrestled a Bear Once basketball jersey and We Came as Romans windbreaker). These kids came to the show strictly for LD's poetic post-hardcore, which ran 40 minutes and consisted largely of material from 2011's excellent Wildlife, and went bonkers, with some crowd-climbing and a whole lot of push-mosh. No complaints here with the performance, certainly: The band ran through their lightly jammy, occasionally funk/jazz-brushed songs with their usual, loose abandon and energy and it was enjoyable to watch and listen unfold. The rest of the audience acknowledged the band politely betwen songs with applause, but were clearly not feeling it otherwise. No surprise there.
Set list (9:21-10:02):
The Most Beautiful Bitter Fruit
I See Everything
Safer in the Forest / Love Song for Poor Michigan
New Storms for Older Lovers
Said the King to the River
The age of the crowd around the middle-front of the floor increased dramatically as the stagehands changed over for the headliners. Even then, though, there was an obvious gulf in the Hot Water Music crowd too: Those going apeshit for roughly the entire set and most others too old to use the energy on that nonsense. But everyone was singing along to various degrees of involvement, and with the Met's lax security, the occasional stage dive was pulled off and the audience otherwise held the stage invasions to a polite minimum.
It's hard to say the band themselves have lost their touch at all, too. Sure, Chuck was forgetting lyrics here and there, but the crowd helped him out (as he'd often hold out the mic stand into the crowd), and he made up for it anyway in his signature stance of boundless, rugged energy (an unusually beardy Chris Wollard providing astute symmetry; a steady Jason Black ably holding down the center of balance; and George Rebelo bashing away behind, of course). This was just HWM 101.
They mixed up the set list well from their aforementioned fall tour, swapping in some songs from Exister that hadn't gotten play then, and pulling out some older, somewhat obscure favorites that husky 30-somethings with beards easily got the most stoked on (almost half of 1999's No Division? Whoa.). A great hurrah before the band go their separate ways again (Ragan back on The Revival Tour; Black will imaginably have some tour plans with Senses Fail; and maybe Wollard will schedule some Ship Thieves shows), but hopefully for not too long.
Set list (10:30-11:20):
State of Grace
Take No Prisoners
Our Own Way
Drag My Body
Free Radio Gainesville
It's Hard to Know
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