Further Seems Forever / Hostage Calm - live in Cambridge (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Further Seems Forever / Hostage Calm

live in Cambridge (2013)

live show

Days before Nemo was set to cover the northeast U.S., Further Seems Forever made their long-awaited return to Boston after abruptly cancelling a show here in November with no explanation as to why. Honestly, though, the hype seemed dulled: It seemed like attendance would be lacking, with the show now at the Sinclair, which fits 525, opposed to the roughly 1,000-cap Royale. Still, for those actually there (largely a late 20s/early 30s crowd, naturally), there seemed to be contented excitement.

I figured opener Civilian must have been friends with FSF, with both calling Florida home, but it was strange that they only seemed to be announced days prior. While that probably didn't contribute too much to how sparse the crowd was at this point, there still wasn't a whole lot of heads in the room for Civilian to actually play to. Musically, they were all right: okay-ish indie/alt-rock. They did play tight and had pretty good tone.

I don't think I've seen reunited bands ever pick up so many current/good/relevant acts to associate with or have support them as I have in recent years. This was another sterling example, but also a somewhat ambitious and risky one, as Hostage Calm are certainly not at all indebted to FSF's musical era. They drew far fewer fans here than their usual sets do in Boston (I remember them getting a far bigger reaction when they opened for Rival Schools at a venue half this size [Great Scott] in fall 2011), but it didn't seem to shake them. Their live show has made great strides in recent years, and their efforts at nailing harmonies are becoming more noticeable and efficient. Maybe they can eventually give "Patriot" a whirl as it is on record. They still stuck to punkier methods, though, playing the older, less balladic version of "The 'M' Word", as frontman Chris Martin noted to ex-With Honor drummer John Ross (playing one of his final shows with the band): "Play it fast." Very minor sing-alongs and fingerpoints aside, they played well and seemed to engage the rest of the audience well enough for the half-hour.

Set list (8:21-8:52):

  1. Brokenheartland
  2. Woke Up Next to a Body
  3. On Both Eyes
  4. Jerry Rumspringer
  5. The "M" Word [old version]
  6. A Mistrust Earned
  7. May Love Prevail
  8. War on a Feeling
  9. Ballots/Stones
  10. Don't Die on Me Now

Further Seems Forever's set had an extraordinarily laid-back vibe. That's not to say it was bad–far from it. The venue was a little more impressively filled-out by this point, but nobody seemed to expect a rock-star show. There were some sloppy points in the performance to be sure, but when they were on, they were on ("Monachetti", "Way Down"), frontman Chris Carrabba straining impressively during more challenging fare (i.e. the latter-day Taking Back Sunday-ish "Rescue Strained"). It was just a less-rehearsed, loose feel, without any aggrandizing, over-the-top motions or crazy light shows or artwork backdrops. Hell, Carrabba seemed to spend half the set toweling sweat pools off the stage. One of the guitarists' cables cut out at one point, and the singer himself momentarily disappeared backstage to get a replacement. A likely humbling move for a dude that once headlined Madison Square Garden (before "So Cold," bassist/vocalist Chad Neptune gave a shoutout to historical Boston hardcore acts Slapshot, SSD and DYS, expanding ever more the metaphorical gulf between the arenas Carrabba played a decade ago and his/his band's lower-key punk roots). This wasn't a house show or anything, but the vibe was definitely easygoing.

I'd consider myself a pretty typical FSF fan, and in that sense, the set list was almost ideal: the entirety of their best record, 2001's The Moon Is Down, half of their new album, and the band's best non-Carrabba fronted song ("The Sound," from 2003's still-pretty-good How To Start A Fire), plus an early cut. (If they wanted to play more from Fire, or try something from 2004's oft-neglected Hide Nothing, that would have been cool too, but 18 songs seemed plenty.)

Set list (9:21-10:32):
  1. Pictures of Shorelines
  2. The Bradley
  3. Rescue Trained
  4. A New Desert Life
  5. Monachetti
  6. Staring Down the Sun
  7. Just Until Sundown
  8. Way Down
  9. So Cold
  10. Madison Prep
  11. Justice Prevails
  12. Janie
  13. Wearing Thin
  14. Snowbirds and Townies
  15. Penny Black
  16. The Sound
  17. New Year's Project
  18. The Moon Is Down