Spend an entire day sweating only to be confined to the muggiest of rooms in the Knitting Factory on the Sunday night of one of the hottest days in New York this year. It's not fun. But when your confinement is due to a strong portion of hardcore's current crop playing their jams, it's a decent trade-off.
Life Long Tragedy was preparing to play upon arrival; it was actually their first time playing NYC they said, which I found bizarre considering they've been around for four or five years and been touring pretty steadily during that time. The production on their new album, Runaways, is sort of like the heat of that day; it's just a little too much. I don't know if LLT really has the songwriting talents to rise above such a smothering recording and make an impact, as many of the songs come off rather indistinguishable. That being said, it's a decent effort, but I still think they hit their peak with "Soul Search Party" (off 2006's split 7" with Final Fight). In any event, their live show serves a similar sense of suffocation, but with enough room around the neck to remain attentive. Their songs are chock full of desperation and rage, and it comes through in harsh waves. They opened with Runaways' lead track, "Call It a Day," playing a few more before taking a breath. Others thrown into the precisely half-hour set included "Youth," "Liars," "Andromeda," "This Year's Disease" and one song that involved Ceremony's Ross Farrar getting in on things in the vocal department. Closer "Hey Death" received the best reception.
LLT's set actually proved to be the longest of the three, though it's actually rather accurate to say Ceremony and Blacklisted practiced quality over quantity. Ceremony slammed through 20 minutes of unrelenting intensity, involving populated stage rushes and kids literally hanging off the pipes of the ceiling like monkey bars. Granted, that was barely five feet above most people's heads. And of course, something broke during the first song or so. Many of their songs could be described simply as "pounding"; one of those, "Walking Home" opened the set, with the initial threatening couplet delivered sorely by magnetized bodies; "I'm here to wrap my hands around society's neck / Slowly slip away against a lifeless grip." Even when Farrar wasn't busy being swarmed, he would occasionally crash into others anyway. "Throwing Bricks," "Living Hell," a new rager from the upcoming 16-song Still Nothing Moves You, "I Want to Put This to an End," "Mothers and Fathers," "Clouds of Fire" (I think), "You're All the Same" (which had Farrar hand off the mic to Youthviolence guitarist Chris to handle vocals for), and another one from the Scared People 7" all found their way into the set as well. However, at one point Farrar said (paraphrasing here), "You should all know this one, so come up and sing along," and busted out a fitting cover of Negative Approach's "Ready to Fight." Don't worry, the reaction was awesome.
Last time I'd seen Blacklisted here, the show was dampened by crappy NYHC openers and their crappy bros. Here, it was a totally different atmosphere. The mo$h was still in effect, but with a little more respect and consideration for others. And not that Blacklisted are turning into Flipper or anything, but their noisy guitar-meandering interludes between songs set up a weird, interesting atmosphere too. Their set consisted almost entirely of songs off their recent full-length, Heavier Than Heaven, Lonelier Than God, and the one song that didn't was off its preceding release, 2007's Peace on Earth, War on Stage 7". Far preferring their newer stuff, this was A-OK with me, though I'd imagine fans of the old material were sorely disappointed.
All the best jams off that album were played at least, and with a quality flair. "I Am Weighing Me Down" had plenty of fists thrown in the air for the "HEY!"s, and the sad revelations by frontman George Hirsch caused frequent pile-ons to wallow in the self- and shared hatred. More monkey bars were swung from during closer "Wish," too. Despite the brevity of such a headlining set, it was definitely one of the better times I'd seen the band, and they definitely retained a few common qualities, matching average previous lengths and finding Hirsch barefoot as usual. Must be a Philly thing.
Set list (9:31-9:54):
- Circuit Breaker
- Ivory Tower
- I Am Weighing Me Down
- Always -----
- Self Explosive -----
- Memory Layne -----