Underoath / Caspian - live in Boston (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Underoath / Caspian

live in Boston (2016)

live show

Underoath made their return to Massachusetts after just three years away from the road. But it’s been a mightily anticipated venture, judging by the size of the venues they’re visiting. Boston was no exception as they sold out the 2,500-capacity House of Blues on this Sunday night.

Caspian is the sole opener for this tour, and stating it plainly as a post-rock band opening for a melodic metalcore one makes it sound like a weird pairing, but it actually makes a lot of complementary sense. They’re generally pretty heavy at times, often veering into post-metal territory, and much of that isn’t far off of what Underoath started exploring on 2006’s Define the Great Line (which is one of the two albums they’re playing in its entirety this tour). Still, most fans are probably attending this tour for their breakout 2004 record, They’re Only Chasing Safety, and Caspian may have only been appealing to a limited cross section of the fans who actually appreciate Underoath’s later artistic inclinations. Nonetheless, the venue was plenty filled out already by the time they took the stage, and there seemed to be a mostly warm response to their set. I missed the first song or two, but I believe they stuck to their strictly instrumental stuff (there’s a Deftones-y one with vocals I’m surprised they didn’t throw in) and it was full of the entrancing atmosphere, undulating guitars and heavy dynamics they’ve made their name on for the last decade and change.

Underoath took the stage next to raucous applause at 8:50 and proceeded to rip through no-nonsense renditions of those two aforementioned, beloved albums. There were little changes throughout, to be sure, but not much more than a new, ominous intro for They're Only Chasing Safety with rapidly flashing lights setting the tone, and a revamped version of TOCS closer "Some Will Seek Forgiveness, Others Escape", which turned it from a pretty ballad into a murkier and more drawn-out, post-rock-heavy halftime.

The first "half" (TCOS is the shorter album by about 10 minutes) was obviously the more well-received one by the crowd. It was not at all unexpected, given that it was the band's real breakout effort and remains by far their most accessible to date, weaving Taking Back Sunday'ssense of melodic, turn-of-the-century call-and-response emo into the metalcore/modern post-hardcore hybrid the band pioneered for better or worse. They nailed it front to back, performing like they've steadily been on tour since the hiatus, the audience singing along to just about every chorus and hook. It was only the deepest cuts ("I'm Content with Losing", f.e.) when they would quiet down much.

The band left the stage after "…Others Escape" while a spooky countdown video proceeded. Clips that looked to be lifted from art-house horror movies were spliced in between the numbers, and while providing an appropriately dark atmosphere of an interlude, definitely would have been more effective with a few minutes shaved off. But the energy was back when they suddenly kicked into "In Regards to Myself", with more random video footage playing behind them for the duration of the set. While TCOS is a relatively accessible catchy affair, Define the Great Line is certainly the more interesting album, with a heavier tone, some minor post-metal flourishes, and Botch-esque math metal tendencies. The band again didn't miss a beat despite tackling the arguably more complicated song structures after being on stage for almost an hour already. The crowd was naturally more toned down, though the mosh pit activity remained about the same, especially given impressively heavy moments like the beatdown-leaning bridge in "Everyone Looks So Good from Here". This last segment of the album flowed really well in particular, with the slow choke of closer "To Whom it May Concern" providing a mammoth comedown (with a Jay-Z outro) from a great two-part revisitation of when Underoath ruled this particular strain of metalcore (or what have you). Judging by the capacity crowd, they might be able to do so again soon.