Cave In / Make Do and Mend - live in New York (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Cave In / Make Do and Mend

live in New York (2011)

live show

After watching Balance and Composure open for Dredg over at Highline Ballroom, a friend and myself high-tailed it to Santos Party House to see if we could make it in time for Make Do and Mend, who themselves were opening for Cave In. Indeed, timing was on our side. When Santos is packed out, as it was tonight, it's almost impossible to navigate. Something about its architecture makes it the worst venue to try and get around when there's a capacity crowd (this was close to sold out, if not so), but there was, unsurprisingly, very few people up front anticipating MDaM and their melodic take on post-hardcore/punk. The band kicked it off by launching into the two tracks from their 2009 EP, Bodies of Water. I'd figured they'd play mostly stuff from End Measured Mile in trying to promote it to a new crowd, but alas. Mike O'Toole's guitar frequently cut out; frontman James Carroll's straight-faced rock-show shouts ("NEW YAHK CITY, THIS ONE'S FOR YOU!") have become a common signifier of their sets, and they seemed a little funny given the smaller environment of the Party House. Still, the set was finely tuned and well-played, and hopefully brought the crowd enough nostalgic feeling for that Hot Water Music / Cave In tour of 2001 to check them out.

Set list (9:12-9:37):

  1. Shambles
  2. Winter Wasteland
  3. Transparent Seas
  4. Oak Square
  5. TL
  6. Unknowingly Strong
  7. Night's the Only Time of Day

I was pumped to see Cave In, trying to keep in mind that they have never really catered to their fans' desires. (One look at their evolutionary arc of multiple stylistic changes will tell you that.) Indeed, over a third of the set list was from their newly released full-length, White Silence, an album which will again probably divide the band's fanbase. See, at this point in their career (and with activity dialed down), the band just wants to be as noisy, abrasive, heavy and doomy as possible, which was reflected in the piercing, noisy interludes among their 11 songs played this night. But at least they have fun doing it. You couldn't smack the grin off Brodsky's face during "Halo of Flies", and he looked otherwise relaxed and comfortable in his skin when leaning against a stage right column riffing away in other songs.

A weed smell pervaded the air just before the band launched into the spacey, eight-minute "Sing My Loves", which I suppose was appropriate to some extent. It's the longest but probably the best track on White Silence, with a soaring, anthemic hook buried beneath distortion, and while it alone took up 15% of the set time, it was an enjoyably sauntering, involved "moment."

Cave In's fans themselves are getting older and older, so I shouldn't have been surprised to see excitement so contained within the audience. There was very little movement, save sporadic headbanging and raucous cheers for "Big Riff" (I guess my wish for a 10-year anniversary Jupiter tour went unfulfilled) and "Luminance" (the opener from their watershed EP, Creative Eclipses), and something of a pit for briefly punishing closer "Moral Eclipse". It was cool, though. I'll take being mellow over being douchey seven days a week.

So, sure, Cave In's set lists never seem to be ideal. But at least they play the songs with a certain loose, noisy fire about them, and clearly enjoy doing so, and that made this show pretty worthwhile.

Set list (9:58-10:50):
  1. Serpents
  2. Air Escapes
  3. Halo of Flies
  4. Vicious Circles
  5. Sing My Loves
  6. Big Riff
  7. Trepanning
  8. Centered
  9. Luminance
  10. Moral Eclipse