Arriving at the Chicago date of the Equal Vision Tour about 3 groups late (Silent Drive and Bear Vrs Shark were missed) , I only caught two songs of Alexisonfire, so I can't comment on their musical style with any reasonable of degree certainty, but I did notice all the performers seemed energized. Also, the lead singer had a slight resemblance to a certain biochemist we all know (and presumably) love, with his black hair, dark thick glasses and white Screeching Weasel shirt worn almost haphazardly.
The crowd's interest was passable, and they respectfully paid attention to the performers, cheering when they were supposed to, applauding after songs, but I didn't see huge rush to the merch booth to snap up merchandise as would befit a enthusiastic crowd.
What was the crowd like, you ask? Good question. They looked like an average indie crowd with some liberal doses of hardcore kids in for BANE. Many band hoodies were worn, for those keeping track of the scene, Blood Brothers, Most Precious Blood, and With Honor were all worn extensively, though nowhere near as extensively as BANE's ubiquitous zip ups.
Armor For Sleep came up after a short delay for equipment, and once they started playing, a sizable number of people left to go to the bar. Oddly enough, more kids appeared from the bar, specifically to see them, only to disappear again when BANE started, but I'm getting ahead of myself. I made the mistake of calling Armor For Sleep emo in my school newspaper, but I could get away with it then, since no one really knows what emo is at school, or more accurately, what it isn't. So what is Armor For Sleep? I'd say a lighter version of Thrice, but about as technical.
Did the audience like them? They tolerated them, for the most part. Sure, their fans liked it, but other than, the people left in the Bottom Lounge went from ¾ full to about ½ after Armor For Sleep. Did they play with spirit? Yes? Could it hold a candle to BANE? Nope.
Much has been made of BANE's live show. It's been called a quasi-religious experience. That's a load of shit, and overhyping the facts. Is BANE one of the most exciting and engaging groups you or I will see? Doubtless. Are they talented at what they do? Absolutely. Will you come back? More than likely. Every time they play, it's like a hardcore version of Storytellers, complete with curses, but when the lyrics and the words are so intelligent, I don't mind. Turns out from Mr. Beddards's stage banter BANE did a photo shoot when they got in Chicago, which was just them playing poker while the photographer just moved around them, shooting. While not vital to the concert, or groundbreaking, it was rather interesting.
What does BANE sound like? You can listen right here, but its straight up blazing hardcore. Screams abound, guitars thrashing, drums at inhuman speed. Some consider it the pinnacle of hardcore, but I think of it as hardcore done very, very well. It's meant for shout alongs, kids going right up to the rail to get their face in the microphone, and late nights screaming. Its unfretted hardcore with frighteningly intelligent lyrics.
Aaron Beddard's screaming style gave me some problems listening to songs I knew from their CD Give Blood. Why? He'll only scream about half a sentence, leaving the rest of the lyric for the presumably capacity, rabid crowd. Sadly, by the time BANE came onstage, neither existed, leaving me feeling shortchanged on some of the songs, since I'm not expecting to hear nothing where lyrics should be. The lack of people could have been due to the fact that this wasn't a well publicized tour, and it was a Tuesday, so my guess is many people had made plans already and then found out later that BANE was coming.
After a slow start, the firestarter Can We Start Again was played, and both the crowd (which had now dwindled to 2/5 of the Bottom Lounge, give or take) stepped up the intensity, and BANE's legendary went right back up par.
I can't say I was disappointed in BANE's performance after CWSA, and would gladly pay to see them again. If somehow, you've been in hardcore, and in some odd way have missed out on BANE, this tour is a good way to start with them. Plus, the MP3s at the bottom might help too.
For those interested, here's BANE's setlist:
Fuck What You Heard
Some Came Running
Snakes Among Us
Can We Start Again?
New Song (name unknown)
Count Me Out
Ali Vrs. Frazier I