Circa Survive / Dredg - live in New York (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Circa Survive / Dredg

live in New York (2010)

live show

Interestingly, it was the venue fucking up my guestlist spots and not a publicist, so I missed Codeseven completely. I'd be more disappointed about it if I hadn't been dismissing the band for the last seven years as fourth-rate Jupiter worship. And while I'd apologize for not giving the band the chance to challenge that, I couldn't even get in the place.

When I did, Dredg was setting things up. Dredg is an interesting band to me not necessarily for their take on spacey, progressive and mildly operatic/metallic alternative rock, but because they occupy this really bizarre space between "cult alt-metal faves" and "scene essential." It's just so hard to place them, but it's pretty clear they've been an influence on more scene-oriented acts like the Dear Hunter, and, the very headliners of this tour, Circa Survive.

Outside of being kind of bored by Catch Without Arms, I'm not totally familiar with the band's recorded output, but they were pretty enjoyable live with lowered expectations. Gavin Hayes was an enigmatic character for a frontman, casting wild eyes and gestures at the front of the stage. (Plus, he reminded me of a whiter Dileep Rao.) It helps that they played some pretty hooky stuff that kept my attention for the 41 minutes they were allotted.

Set list (8:35-9:16):

  1. Ode to the Sun
  2. Same Ol' Road
  3. Pariah
  4. Triangle
  5. Upon Returning [new]
  6. Bug Eyes
  7. Saviour
  8. Lightswitch

Circa Survive is one of those rare bands who can basically play whatever they want and I'll be (mostly) satisfied. Maybe I'm alone, but there's no one album of theirs that rises highly above the rest, and as a result I view their discography as a linear, incredibly solid collection of great songs spanning the space between groundbreaking, atmospheric post-hardcore and melodic, emotional rock. And they delivered just that this Saturday night in expert form.

The new songs have this melodic prowess that understandably worked fantastically in this setting, but to hear the sorely heartbroken desperation of their older stuff littered in was a greatly contrasting treat. The only thing was, no "Act Appalled"? Come on! They played it the next night, but I wasn't there. Sad face emoticon.

Anthony Green had the crowd in the palm of his proverbial hand the entire night. His subtextual requests for "YEAH!"s between songs bordered on Billie Joe obnoxiousness, but he limited it to a point that made it merely amusing. He tugged and pulled at his half-buttoned dress shirt while storming across the stage and raising his hand to a height his voice often far surpassed (in metaphorical theory, anyway).

Multi-colored light racks on stage added an indescribable aesthetic to the entire thing. Guitarist Brendan Ekstrom would be carefully picking or wailing away and a flitter of green would suddenly illuminate behind him, like an exterior, eerie flash to the aural building.

The band was gracious enough to bring out their fan club, the Creature Club, out on stage to sing some backing vocals for "Spirit of the Stairwell," with some dude proposing to his girlfriend just before the set. Seems terrifying.

One final bonus was a transition to At the Drive-In's "Invalid Litter Dept." during "Oh, Hello"--at least, its bridge and conclusion, which was awesome in any regard. The few of us who knew it seemed elated.

Actually, that wasn't even the final bonus. Explosions of confetti every few songs erupting over the crowd's heads, they tried to one-up it by launching monstrouly sized balloons over us as well. It was quite an interesting visual component to the entire scene, which ended in a lightly cathartic manner with Blue Sky Noise's best track, "I Felt Free."

Set list (9:46-10:58):
  1. Strange Terrain
  2. Get Out
  3. Glass Arrows
  4. Mandala
  5. In the Morning and Amazing...
  6. Holding Someone's Hair Back
  7. Frozen Creek
  8. In Fear and Faith
  9. The Difference Between Medicine and Poison Is in the Dose
  10. Spirit of the Stairwell
  11. Imaginary Enemy
  12. Through the Desert Alone
  13. Oh, Hello [w/ At the Drive-In's "Invalid Litter Dept." bridge and close]
  14. Stop the Fuckin' Car
    Encore (11:00?-11:15):
  15. Compendium
  16. Dyed in the Wool
  17. I Felt Free