Honestly, there are very few times that I have walked away from a show inspired. There are few times when I am completely awed by the performances of the night, where, I felt chills down the back of my spine and an overall numbing effect to what I was witnessing. Going into the night, on the expectation of seeing one of the best post-hardcore bands of the past decade (one that's been around longer than that), the bar was set high and completely met at the end of the night.
For those of you who do not know who Envy is (besides the other side of a split with Thursday), they are one of the most influential hardcore/screamo/post-hardcore bands from the East. Hailing from Japan and only matched in greatness to that of the likes of Mono, the band has constantly pushed their hardcore roots into a more post-rock vibe over the last few years. Along with La Quiete and Diatro, they're one of the bands form overseas that you should be aware of.
After four years of not releasing a full length and touring the United States, the band just went on a run with Ireland's And So I Watched You From Afar and our country's best hardcore acts: Trash Talk, La Dispute and Touche Amore.
While Trash Talk was not part of this run, the rest of the leg for the night was absolutely flawless. Ireland's And So I Watched You From Afar was heavy and powerful. A great opener to wake up anyone in the crowd. It would seem tough to tour the States for the first time and have to open the night on a bill like this every night, but the band absolutely held a solid opening slot.
Within the first song, kids were climbing the stage for Touche Amore's set. Passionate and commanding, the band's half hour was crammed with crowd chants and plenty of stage diving. The band's new songs off of their splits with Make Do and Mend and tourmates La Dispute were even more engaging live - and of course Jordan from La Dispute joined the stage and vice versa.
There isn't much more praise that I can give La Dispute that I already haven't given at this point. Along with Touche and Trash Talk and Native, they are part of the bands that were necessary to get kids excited about creative hardcore again. Besides hearing their new material off their latest split, the band has been closing their set with the thirteen minute "The Last Lost Continent" - something I'd been asking the guys to play every time they're in town - and it came off remarkably.
Every band on this tour were just as in awe to be touring with Envy on their first headlining North American tour as I was in awe of being able to see the band play an intimate sold out show. I've always said Envy is like the Thursday of Japan, but for the amount of releases and the time the band has been around, they're even more comparable to that of Converge. As far as the show goes, it's just as passionate. A completely even mix of songs from not only their new album, but also from 2001's All the Footprints You've Ever Left And Fear Expecting Ahead and my personal favorite, 2003's A Dead Sinking Story. Sure, none of us could understand the words, but it goes back to discussions of breaking past that and capturing an audience's mood and aura that is the experience of Envy. It's beautiful and crushing in every sense. Through all of it is a small lantern of hope as you walk away from the hour and a half set to close the night.
Hands down, this is one of the best tours to have come through the U.S. this year. Not only did attendees get to see the new class of hardcore and true "screamo" in the sense of Orchid or Funeral Diner or Portraits of Past, but they got to see a legend from the East absolutely blow an audience away in an intimate club setting we don't normally experience as much these days.