HORSE the Band / the Fall of Troy / Criteria - live in Levittown (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

HORSE the Band / the Fall of Troy / Criteria

live in Levittown (2006)

live show

Here was a show where I was excited at the idea of a consistent trio of openers, but with a headliner I really didn't care for.

Criteria played a long, long set for a first band, and I was hardly complaining. The set was LOUD and the rock was rolling for every one of the songs, which the band played with precision and care. Front-man Stephen Pedersen said little to the crowd, but that was okay, as he took on some of his rabid fans' in attendance requests ("The Coincedence" and "Me on Your Front Porch"). He gave off a good energy for every song, and the rest of the complemented him nicely. Plus, every song had their distinctive guitar leads that could be heard crisp and clear. An unexpectedly lengthy, but enjoyable set (though I would've loved to hear "The Life" and/or "It Happens").
(in no particular order):

En Garde

  • The Coincedence
  • Mainline Life
  • Talk in a Crowded Room
  • Me on Your Front Porch
When We Break
  • Prevent the World
  • Good Luck
  • Kiss the Wake
  • Self Help
  • Ride the Snake
I began prepping some face armor, sure that the Fall of Troy would basically rip it off. I would soon learn that this armor would be very, very useless. The band was in top form; lead singer and guitarist Thomas Erak did seem to rely on his highs a bit more often, but he was a virtuoso on the axe. The set was peppered with several jam sessions á la the band's biggest influence, the Mars Volta, with a little bit of Led Zeppelin guitar saluting here and there (actually, Erak even referenced Hendrix at one point with the last few notes of "The Star-Spangled Banner"). Every member was incredibly on point, though; Andrew Forsman, the drummer thrashed at every cymbal and tom like his life depended on it, while the mostly stationary bassist in Tim Ward efficiently plucked his strings, at one point seeming pretty pissed about his distortion. I will admit it seemed like some guitar parts were pre-recorded here and there, because Erak was clearly not on the fretboard, but a part could be heard ringing out. It was only one or two brief moments, though, and I'm still unsure as to if it was the actual case. The crowd definitely ate every note up regardless. The new song they played, which I've already forgotten the title of, I'd heard at their last show at this venue, is one of their most intense offerings; guitars furiously yank from every corner of the room at multiple stop-starts with Erak manically screaming lines with minimal pauses in between. A pretty rousing set if I do say so myself. And I do, I guess.
(in no particular order):
  • I Just Got This Symphony Goin' [lead song]
  • Act One, Scene One
  • F.C.P.R.E.M.I.X.
  • Mouths Like Sidewinder Missiles
  • We Better Learn to Hotwire a Uterus
  • Whacko Jacko Steals the Elephant Man's Bones
  • Macaulay McCulkin
  • new song
HORSE the Band was sure to present another ridiculous set of keyboard-addled metal/hardcore, a band who's surely more formidable in the live setting than on record. Opening with "Birdo," I've never seen a more energetic, serious-looking unit playing a song about a Super Mario 2 boss. The keyboardist, who many may notice could be a stand-in for Napoleon Dynamite, actually had excellent stage presence, facing the crowd directly and in a defiant pose, striking each key as if it was a button to destroy the world. But really, the entire band gave off an admirable energy, even as most of their songs are fairly indistinguishable. The self-deprecating, bullshit banter was humorous only for the strange efforts put into it. "We wrote this song while eating chocolate," f.e. The band also teased the sound guy, simultaneously pleading with him not to "contact our label and never work with us again." The band was as intense and energetic as could be though, especially rousing the crowd into a frenzy for set closer "Cutsman" (which they preceded by saying "This is a Bane cover. We hope you enjoy Bane."). They also played "Taken by Vultures," but I'm hard-pressed to remember any others.

Poison the Well is a band I simply missed the boat on. Sure, they deserve some credit for helping to spearhead the modern wave of American metalcore, and I appreciate that they add some frills in to make their heavy chaos not all straightforward white noise, but again, I just wasn't feeling it too much. I stayed for around half the set and checked out.

So yeah, quite the solid tour, even if I had no interest in the main attraction.