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.
Oh, nu-metal. Where have you been lately? I've longed for your bastardization of shoegazing 90's alternative with your hip-hop rhythms and abrasive "daddy" issues bled across your less than poetic Top 40 hits. I need another Family Values Tour 99' and a Hybrid Theory to fall upon my ears again.
Alas, I have another issue (not the kind KORN were talking about): it lies here. It's an existence that pokes needles at my spine and wears heavy on my head. I've even grown for a distaste of Kraft's individually wrapped cheese over the years. As I feel some relief with bands like Muse and Foo Fighters still holding great rock music together on a main stream front off the beaches of Normandy, I can't help but think there's still a sound worthy for the masses that's not as cheap as the local store's own individually sliced bread loafs.
Enter my week with Circa Survive's Blue Sky Noise already. With a jump to a major label, I think the boys have grown to make audible nuances of alternative growth ready for the masses without losing any integrity or recognizable stance of their beginnings. It will have some fans stand off to the side, scratching their heads for a few listens, while hopefully newer fans will embrace what the radio has delayed them from listening to for so long.
But aren't we the cool kids who knew first?
With a new class ready to take the rock radio reins -alliteration cheese- the community is about to lay their ears onto two bands who have already made their mark. One who have held attention and fans for some years now, and one that disappeared and are looking to return.
Deftones will release their highly anticipated return, Diamond Eyes, next month. From the first two tracks, it is, well, Deftones material. The vocals are feathering to fingernails scratching at chalkboards at a collegiate level. It's what we wanted, and for the most part, people seem pleased.
Then we have Far, returning to music after skipping a decade, with At Night We Live. Highly reminiscent of how I still feel about Filter's Short Bus, there's a sonic blast of guitar and vocals. As I'm brought back to what Far were known for, I wonder if kids will understand that now. If a band called The Smashing Pumpkins came along and released Siamese Dream today, is it the tree in the forest that falls and no one gives a shit, or is it still a necessity to fall and plug the oversupplying flood like a dam?
Like I felt a lot of the past few years' indie implements have been a revitalization of 80's synth and pop, it seems there are bands that still care about the songwriting and arrangements of mid-90's alternative sirens and to-the-point choruses. Maybe this is what we need right now. Maybe we need someone to show us that rock music isn't dead on a mass level -- maybe we just shot it in the face with all our high priced bullshit glam and what-thefuck-ever "artistic creativity."
It's just music. For so long I wanted the masses to hear it. Finally, I think they'll get their chance with Circa Survive and take in their past loves of Far and Deftones. At least they can have something with substance, and not substance abuse.