CBGB was likely still in recovery mode from the night before, which involved what may end up being Gorilla Biscuits' final show ever. Financial constraints prevented me from seeing the show, as I'd already witnessed quite an amazing performance by the melodic hardcore wunderkinds the night before at BB King's. However, the tandem of Strike Anywhere and Modern Life Is War was hard to pass up.
The latter was up first in the lineup. As it was my fourth time seeing the band in just over a year, I was a trace worried I'd had my fill, but fortunately, those doubts proved to be futile. The 1-2 bang of "The Outsiders" and "Martin Atchet" started things off as they do on the band's latest full-length, Witness (2005). The dark, emotionally haunting romps proved to be a perfect match for the dank CB atmosphere, with the band's unintentionally matching black attire providing yet another trait for the aesthetic. Even less banter than usual occurred here, with the band interspersing tracks from both the aforementioned and 2003's My Love, My Way. The new song, "These Mad Dogs of Glory," proves the band is doing more than just listening to Tragedy in the van -- they're being influenced by them, too. It carries MLIW's trademark restraint and yet it's also one of the most intense songs they've written, with soft growls of the song title divided evenly between intensely spit verses and a subtle crescendo building throughout. The band's fans were into it the whole time, rarely letting up on stage dives and finger points, but as usual, the best response came from "D.E.A.D.R.A.M.O.N.E.S.," though the unplanned cover of Black Flag's "Nervous Breakdown" served well, too (the audience had been cheering for it after the band's initially botched attempt at the intro for "By the Sea"). I stand by my stance that Modern Life Is War is one of the most passionate, exhilarating and refreshing bands playing hardcore these days. All their hype is absolutely justified. Here's the set list, mostly in order:
- The Outsiders
- Martin Atchet
- John and Jimmy
- Late Bloomers
- These Mad Dogs of Glory
- First and Ellen
- Nervous Breakdown (Black Flag)
- By the Sea
My issues with Ignite aside, they put on a solid set. They played the usual staples, like opener "Bleeding," "Fear Is Our Tradition," "My Judgement Day," "Who Sold Out Now?," "Bullets Included No Thought Required," and closer "Call on My Brothers" among others. Despite the sound on everything turned up way beyond logical tolerance, their cohesion and playing was rather tight. The vocal harmonies sounded as if they were straight out of the studio and the guitars were on point as usual. NYHC guitar veteran Vinnie Stigma (Madball, Agnostic Front) came out to riff the six strings for one particular song, but I'm hard-pressed to remember exactly which one. I doubt I'll ever call myself a legit Ignite fan, but their ambitions, political awareness and outreach is immensely respectable -- part of which I'm sure contributes to their already sizable fanbase, many of whom were stoked themselves on seeing them perform apparently.
I don't think Strike Anywhere ever misses a beat live. It's as if they play perfectly synched to their albums playing in the background and the audience is never the wiser. What was nice about their current headlining tour is that the set list has been considerably switched up. Surprisingly absent was "Chorus of One" (moderately disappointing) and "The Promise" (pretty happy about, as the song was just starting to wear on my nerves before I'd even heard the album), but in its place were rare cuts from the Chorus of One EP: "Cassandratic Equation" and "Earthbound" (I believe). And without "Chorus of One," there was no ringing shout of "To live in discontent!" that started things off; it was "You're Fired," another well-received nod to the band's roots. Thanks to these new twists on the set list it was like I was seeing the band for the first time in a long time. I've spun Dead FM quite a few times, but I suppose in the context of live staples and having never heard the material live, it was great to hear the new ones, which included "Sedition," "Instinct," and "Prisoner Echoes." While the list did seem a little Change Is a Sound empty and short overall, "S.S.T.," "We Amplify" / "Blaze," and "Infrared" also found inclusion among others. "To the World" and "Sunset on 32nd" closed the shop down for the night, but with many a pleased patron, including myself. Dead FM may be very moderately disappointing for some, but it's still hard to register many formal complaints with the band's live show.