This show was basically one surprise after the other.
When I walked in, local act Verse was already in the middle of their set. I'd already seen the semi-melodic hardcore outfit play at the All About Records Fest last month and wasn't thrilled then, so I didn't expect much there. Maybe it was the acoustics of the venue or something, but they actually sounded really good, inexplicably together, and definitely energized.
Soon after, Moments in Grace took the stage to bore me for the next twenty-five minutes. Previous to this, I had heard the Brian McTernan-produced EP from the band and wasn't impressed by meandering, boring emo rock. Although their performance here was a little better, it was still far from wholly good or original.
Now, I still haven't heard a single song outside of a live set by them, but after seeing them for the second time, I can certify one thing: Vaux fucking rip. The band was incredibly energetic, and the singer stormed the stage in all directions,
getting the crowd up and moving. The spotlights created this ironic arena rock feel while the band's crowd interaction was still there, and the fog machine smogging the general area. The only song titles I caught were "Do It For Sixty" and "Shot in the Back," the last two off their only full-length.
Poison the Well had never done anything for me. At all. The only previous debt of gratitude I ever owed them was that the first time I saw them live was the same day I discovered Rise Against. It was just one white ball of noise, nothing more then...but last night, they actually weren't bad. Even though the growling seems a bit forced, the double-bass is cool and the set flowed well. I actually heard the melody in the music and things were set up well for the headliners.
Explaining just how Thrice played is difficult. Their chosen set list was the most fucked up order and choice I've seen a band choose, and not in a "well, at least they're not doing things people expect them to do" way. Instead of choosing a typical fast song to open things up ("Kill Me Quickly", anyone?), they started with "Silhouette." Well, okay, I guess it's a good midtempo rock tune to start out with; when they followed up with "Under a Killing Moon," it made a little more sense. They then moved to two songs off Illusion of
Safety, "Kill Me Quickly" and what I remember as "Betrayal is a Symptom." A few people in the crowd nearly shit themselves when "Phoenix Ignition" was played next, with Dustin standing near the barricade leading the chant of the bridge. Unfortunately, that was the only song they played off Identity Crisis - which, frankly, is unadulterated horseshit. I know bands have hangups with playing old songs, but please...plus, it disappointed me a bit when Dustin said "that's probably one of the last times we play that." One song they played I'd never heard before, and Dustin was mumbling too incomprehensibly beforewards for me to find out what it was. It had growling verses and a melodic chorus, and a lyric along the lines of "we make these weapons" that sounded fairly political. They also played "Hideous Strength," their older Hopeless comp contribution, with Teppei's solo right on. Although they blatantly fucked up a few times during the set (notably the bridge of "Deadbolt" and the bridge-to-breakdown transition of "See You in the Shallows") it was the tightest I've seen them out of three times (please hold all
obvious jokes until the end). "Stare at the Sun" got the reaction I expected it would. Their fake closer was "Cold Cash and Colder Hearts," and they came back out to play "Don't Tell and We Won't Ask" and officially closed with "To Awake and Avenge the Dead" as Dustin's voice started to go hoarse. The encore was strangely surprising considering they ended up letting their set sit void of "All That's Left" (good song, but I'm not complaining).