Many tours tend to be strung together by booking agents and random connections, but not this one. The Anthony Green solo tour was a three-act extravaganza of good friends and good times, a bunch of Philadelphia natives coming together to showcase their new (or in Green's case, side) projects. This was the last day of the tour, at the Crazy Donkey in Long Island, a venue that nicely chose to forgo putting up a barrier that night (a pretty rare occurrence for its bigger shows, of which this was definitely one).
First up was the Westchester, NY-based Looking Glass Wars who fit in really well. They were already most of the way through their set, but they seemed to be an outfit adept in melodic indie pop/rock somewhere in the Forgive Durden / Gatsbys American Dream camp, with super busy guitar and drum work. (As a side note, my cousin bought their full-length and those comparisons were oddly nowhere to be heard. Oh well.) Speaking of drums, they had two percussionists up there and it made for a strong and full backbone. Definitely some good stuff live, and they played tight as well.
Person L, the newest outlet for former Starting Line frontman Kenneth Vasoli, came up with his band 15 minutes later. It's a musical project that's really free of any major label push or pressure, and consequently Vasoli flexes his creative muscle generously on their recent self-released album, Initial, a strong eight-song debut that you'll probably dig if you like Days Away or the aforementioned Gatsbys. Although opener "Holy Hell" and, later on "Born in the Rainy Days of May," both sounded thin, a bit sloppy and overall really raw, the band otherwise managed a really fluid, dynamic and compelling set. Their second song was one I'd never heard -- maybe it's on their demo, maybe it's new, who knows. The fact was, it was damn impressive and actually sorta post-rock-ish, sometimes akin to This Will Destroy You's more subtle moments, with an extended instrumental closing. They played another unfamiliar one after that, which rode a really cool, Band-esque riff most of the way through; after some research I noticed it was written back in April 2007, but didn't make Initial. Why, I have no clue; Vasoli's rising and falling vocal yelps ("And...IIIIIIII! I was going through a cha-ange!") are awesome and totally make the song. It probably wouldn't have killed the band to make Initial a nine-song disc, but oh well. Playing a surprisingly long, 50-minute set, they offered all but one song off Initial, including the heartbreaking "Sunshine," probably my favorite of theirs. Closer "Goodness Gracious" involved a drum party, with plenty of members from the other bands coming up to collaborate on the last few songs.
Set list (8:05-8:55):
- Holy Hell
- untitled [as of April 2007]
- Born in the Rainy Days of May
- We're Gonna Run Out of Road
- Help Yourself
- Wooden Soldiers
- Goodness Gracious
I remember seeing Days Away at The Downtown several years prior and being absolutely blown away by drummer Tim Arnold; apparently, the dude still has it. His fills are just lightning-quick and absolutely mind-boggling to watch. He just doesn't miss a beat.
Part of that helped contribute to an enjoyable set that surprisingly retained my interest all the way through. "Window" perfectly placed Keith Goodwin and Dan Schwartz's dreamy harmonizing over fast-paced folk arrangements. But when things slowed down, it was well-done too. Anthony Green came out for his guest vocal part and some general harmonies on "Weak Man" and it predictably garnered plenty of excited gushing and screams from the crowd.
Schwartz whipped out a 12-string for "We've Come a Long Way." What a meticulous and ridiculous looking instrument, one that he assuredly played well enough though.
Throughout the set, touring guitar tech Nick Beard (a member of Circa Survive) had been tuning Schwartz's guitar in between every song. When the amused Schwartz asked for an explanation, Beard responded something along the lines of, "End of tour prank, buddy!" The camaraderie was heartwarming.
Set list (9:14-9:50):
- Coney Island
- Just Another Day
- I'm Not for You
- Weak Man
- That's What's Wrong
- We've Come a Long Way
- Tell Me
- Looking for Shelter
Having seen Circa Survive around a half-dozen times, Green continues to blow me away. His voice is just undeniably phenomenal. The slight strain applied to his vocals live puts a pinch of gravel to his yell and it only makes it thicker and more mesmerizing; when he screamed the repetitive, desperate ending to "Plays Ugly for Daddy" (a track from the unreleased four-song EP by his short-lived High and Driving project, which was officially amended to Green's recent solo debut, Avalon), it was just brutal. He clenched his own and shouted "Your eyes are so therrrre" until his cords were likely scorched and dry.
As the set went on, I realized it was getting longer and longer. When all was said and done, Green had played nearly an hour and a half. I can't even remember if Circa played that long when I last saw them headline the area.
But that's not really a complaint. Green managed to get through all but one song off Avalon, throwing in the aforementioned High and Driving number, a few songs I wasn't familiar with that I had to Google to figure out, a Good Old War "cover" (I think it was just him and Schwartz playing this one) and a couple Circa Survive tracks -- including a full-band "Semi-Constructive Criticism," which was more groove-oriented and psychedelic than Circa's version.
When the explosive single "Dear Child (I've Been Dying to Reach You)" was played just about at the end, a small number in the crowd finally gave in and bum-rushed the stage for some closer encounters with Green, who leaned into them and probably made for lots of MySpace bulletins later that night likely looking something like "OMG i touched antony green!!!1"
The song came to a halt and members started filing off the stage, but the audience wanted more. The "ONE MORE SONG!!" chant began in unifying form, and Green responded. He came back onto the stage for a pitch-perfect and completely true-to-disc version of Circa Survive's "Meet Me in Montauk." Everyone was clearly stoked.
During one song, the band busted into a fast tempo version, poppy melodic hardcore style. "I used to love that shit," Green mentioned afterwards. I resisted the urge to shout out multiple Kid Dynamite song titles.
The set's focus on both full band junctures and more soul-baring material from Green (who played an adept harmonica solo on one song) resulted in a rather versatile and simply awesome set from the singer/songwriter and company. You gotta hope he does at least a few more tours like this in the future in between Circa's activity.
Set list (10:04-11:33):
- She Loves Me So
- The First Day of Work at the Microscope Store
- Plays Ugly for Daddy [High and Driving]
- Devils Song (This Feels Like a Nightmare)
- Stonehearted Man
- Miracle Sun
- The More You Get, The Less You Are [new-ish song]
- Rips You Apart
- Lullaby [Good Old War cover]
- Slowing Down (Long Time Coming)
- Untitled (Lesbian Twins)
- Semi-Constructive Criticism [Circa Survive]
- Dear Child (I've Been Dying to Reach You)
set ends 11:28
- Meet Me in Montauk [Circa Survive]