Thursday has been appearing on solid lineups for years now, so it shouldn't have come as any surprise that they were bringing Murder by Death and a revitalized Fear Before the March of Flames to my neck of the woods. Not only that, Derek Hess's Strhess Tour was appearing at a venue so intimate I hadn't seen them in this close quarters for almost three and a half years. Needless to say it was a no-brainer to take the 45-minute drive in.
You'll notice I left out Heavy Heavy Low Low in the introductory paragraph...not necessarily because of the multiple zine-wide chatter about how complete and utter douchebags the band are while out on the road, but more because of their music. It's a lame Daughters interpretation with heavy modern metalcore influences (early Every Time I Die and Art Damage-era Fear Before, mostly). I'll give them a few breaks: the music was more tolerable than I expected; the singer did not actually walk around with his back to the crowd muttering "smoke weed" through the 17-minute set's duration as previously reported; and at least they admit their douchebaggery (one repeated line in a song literally went "we all have our vices / and mine is getting fucked"). I also counted two (count 'em two) creepy pedo-mustaches of the five members in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
It was stunning how great the songs from Fear Before the March of Flames' The Always Open Mouth came off in the live setting. Epic buildups and mesmerizing collapses unfolded over the heads of entirely too many audience members (and apparently the band's own fans, many of which only went off for the one song that wasn't on the album), with shimmering/Isis-influenced guitars, a platter of vocal styles, floor-pounding riffs, wild keyboard lines and epic atmospheres. It's not even my favorite album by the band, but it's definitely their most ambitious and a serious improvement from 2004's Art Damage. Strangely enough, I remember seeing the band in 2004 a good month before Art Damage was even released, and even then their set consisted of five songs from the album and only two from 2003's eventually reissued Odd How People Shake. Therefore it made sense that eight of the band's nine songs in the set here were from Open Mouth, much to the chagrin of those aforementioned fans (but not this one obviously).
Set list (8:09-8:44):
- Complete and Utter Confusion
- ...As a Result of Signals Being Crossed
- Drowning the Old Hag
- The Waiting Makes Me Curious
- High as a Horse
- Taking Cassandra to the End of the World Party
- Should Have Stayed in the Shallows
- My Deer Hunter
Despite a past tour
with Thursday, Murder by Death
's reaction was still less than spectacular here. They put on their usual, numbing performance full of cascading cello waves and alt-country twang along with Adam Turla's sand-dry between-song banter to the audience ("we sing songs about whiskey and the devil"), although he did sport a smile when whipping out his ridiculously-shaped Excalibur guitar for a solo in "Boy Decide." The music, however, just didn't seem to do entirely much for the newcomers, although a couple dudes in the front roared in approval anytime Turla announced the next tune as “a drinking song.” I actually wish the band would play a little more from their newest album, In Bocca al Lupo
, because there’s a lot of absolutely compelling narration that I think could hook a few of the more literary types in the audience in (see: “The Big Sleep,” “Shiola”), but oh well. The older material gave the set its nice orchestral feel the band may have a lost a bit over the course of their progression, while Sarah Balliet flawlessly traded her duties between impassioned string pulling on the cello and bouncy, animated efforts on the keyboard. The loudest cheers came when Geoff Rickly came out during “Killbot 2000” for his guest portion on the song’s wonderful breakdown (“carry / their little bodies / to the cemetery
”). Overall, another spirited set from Murder by Death. You know, to...ahem...raise the spirits.
- Sometimes the Line Walks You
- Masters in Reverse Psychology
- Boy Decide
- Desert’s on Fire
- Killbot 2000 f/ Geoff Rickly
- One More Notch
- That Crown Don’t Make You a Prince
- Until Morale Improves, The Beatings Will Continue
- Those Who Stayed
Geoff Rickly has one of the most commanding stage presences in his league, however over-dramatic his performances might sometimes be. It lead the charge for the rest of his band, Thursday, and their perfectly executed versions of songs from three-fourths of the band’s albums (or if you’d really like to get technical, seven-ninths). The band hardly missed a note and therefore it’s hard to register complaints regarding that area. Granted, the band is rather incapable of reproducing Dave Friedmann’s wild production styles from 2006’s A City by the Light Divided
, but the more straightforward nature works just the same. The band ran through their standard set of singles (“War All the Time” void as usual) while packing a few deeper cuts from 2001’s Full Collapse
early on, likely to compliment the intimate nature of the current club tour. Once again I didn’t get to hear some of the lesser played songs from 2003’s War All the Time
, and while that plus the exclusion of “Sugar in the Sacrament” and “Running from the Rain” (either would have done just fine) was a major disservice considering the relative brevity of the set (13 songs including the encore, clocking in at just over an hour total), it felt nice to actually watch the band play from a few yards away for the first in a long time. Also, “Autumn Leaves Revisited” closed it in a rather refreshing manner despite lackadaisical response from the lot of their fans.
Whether the size of these clubs Thursday are currently touring is a special treat or simply a symbol of the band’s declining popularity is a worthy debate, so jaded fans should likely take the opportunity in case the former here is knocking. The band also announced that upon completion of the UK tour they’d be taking time off to write and record a new album.
- At This Velocity
- Division St.
- The Other Side of the Crash / Over and Out (Of Control)
- Understanding in a Car Crash
- Signals Over the Air
- I Am the Killer
- How Long Is the Night?
- Counting 5-4-3-2-1
- Cross Out the Eyes
- The Lovesong Writer
- Jet Black New Year
- For the Workforce, Drowning
- Autumn Leaves Revisited