Caspian / Circle Takes the Square - Live in Cambridge (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Caspian / Circle Takes the Square

Live in Cambridge (2015)

live show

This cool sold-out double bill on a Friday night in Cambridge, Massachusetts, featured appearances from sorta locals Caspian (based 45 minutes north in Beverly) and Circle Takes the Square, surprisingly swinging through the northeast for a second time in two years. It was the tour's

I missed opener Dirty Bangs, unfortunately, but made my way in just before Circle Takes the Square dove in. This was one of the most crisp and coherent sets I'd ever seen them play. Maybe the audience was a little more polite than most, but the trio could be heard loud and clear, with vocalist/guitarist Drew Speziale being able to banter with the 525 people in the venue off mic. They also turned up the prog tendencies of their sound in a certain sense, though more in the sense that large parts of their songs felt like long, marathon stretches of staggering complexity and dizziness. A cellist joined them on a few cuts too, like the sludgy opening to "Enter by the Narrow Gates", which added a little bit more to their denser sections. The band definitely had a few fans in attendance, but scattered about and hardly really making much of the ruckus one sees when the band's headlining or has a core of the audience present. They leaned heavily on their most recent album, 2012's long-awaited Decompositions Vol. 1, displaying that impressive stamina as they weaved their way through multi-faceted, often six or seven-minute songs that rely on a multitude of intense styles. I'm not sure how Speziale's craggy sneer went over with a post-rock crowd, but the band has their own sort of progressive and unique character that might have earned them a few fans looking for more of that.

Set list (9:28-10:16)

Caspian came on to thunderous applause and went right into a mammoth set that lasted just shy of two hours, with all of the flashing lights and musical twists and turns one could ask for. They played Dust and Disquiet standout "Echo and Abyss" early on, a notable one for having actual vocals from one of their members, making it into kind of a cool Deftones-y detour--"Gone in Bloom and Bough", which has some robotically affected singing, made an appearance too. They played a couple from that album, Waking Season, and the newer one, the aforementioned Dust and Disquiet, while plucking a few from the earlier albums. The crowd ate it all up, though. Caspian have always seemed to do well in their hometown and its close radius, and this show seemed like a strong homecoming, with polite headbanging and the audience seeming like they were drawn in well for the entirety of the long set. The band give off enough energy, play with dynamics well, and cast enough shades of aural light and dark that it's hard to be totally bored watching them at their craft, even for bigger critics of post-rock. The set ended with members of all the bands (plus the drummer from their peers Junius) partaking in a drum circle of sorts, a booming and inclusive conclusion to closer "Sycamore" that looked like a warm finish to the tour.

Set list