Two great bands, landmarks of their respective genres, teamed up to fill the Trocadero on Friday night. From the outside, a Thursday/Converge tour sounds crazy. From the inside, it was oh, so right.
As people continued to file in, the hardcore devotees lined the front of the room for Lewd Acts. Less annoying chuggy parts and Metallica t-shirts proved that they were more than just another one of “those” bands. The actual sound was unreasonably loud during Lewd Acts, proved by listening to their recorded material after the fact (and enjoying it way more), but that didn’t stop them from being a little bit underwhelming, even if Tyler Densley did climb into the balcony.
Touché Amore is hands down one of the most interesting up-and-coming hardcore bands currently playing. Forgetting the brutal heaviness of most of their peers, TA carries the torch of 90s screamo better than some actual 90s screamo bands did. Reminiscent of the newer Blacklisted releases, TA has a pure, unbridled and unchecked intensity. Like Blacklisted, they will likely be ignored by many but completely fucking adored by few. And all of those kids will go on to start bands and the cycle will continue once again.
For a band that’s most recent Philadelphia show was a North Philly house show, the pile on during the set-closing “Honest Sleep” rivaled anything the two headlining bands would have all night. There’s a special feeling that comes along with a band like Touche Amore. This primal release that only comes once in a while. This feeling that sticks around, days after the physical experience. It’s how you know you found something that understands you.
Originally their headlining tour, Converge played main support on this night—not that you would have known from looking at the crowd, a definite Converge audience. From the start of “Concubine,” bodies flew through the air and piled on top of each other, barricade be damned. Converge’s intensity is a known fact, but you’d be hard pressed to find a band as heavy and chaotic as Converge that sounds this completely perfect live.
Kurt Ballou’s guitar sounds like it could literally saw your head off but watching Ben Koller play drums is comparable to sitting in on a masterclass. The pure fact that he’s able to pull all of his tricks off without being repetitive is kind of staggering. Frontman Jake Bannon is the focal point of the band, shredding his vocal chords night in and night out while looking like a man possessed.
While Thursday still puts out good records, their live shows have kind of dropped off in recent years. The songs are still strong, but stagnant setlists have made things a little boring. As a band with a well documented on/off relationship with their career path, the past few years have also seen Thursday lack a little enthusiasm on stage and off.
On this Friday night, maybe it was the addition of stand-in bassist Lukas Previn (Acid Tiger and United Nations)—whose youthful enthusiasm seemed to trick the rest of the band into smiling—or the different kind of audience, but Thursday was as good as they’ve ever been. A perfect example of the synergistic relationship between audience and performer, everything the fans gave, the band gave back.
The highlight of the set wasn’t a song, but Rickly’s casual announcement that the band would be going into the studio, only 14 months after the release of Common Existence. “Understanding (In A Car Crash)”, “At This Velocity” and all of the other Thursday staples were as good as usual, but it’s Common Existence songs that really shine. “Beyond the Visible Spectrum” and “Circuits of Fever” are miles more intense live than their recorded counterparts, making the prospect of more songs like this all the better.
As the night winded down and Thursday came back out for their encore, Rickly jumped down from the stage to sing with the crowd. Tom Keeley and Steve Pedulla played the classic opening of “Autobiography of a Nation,” as the band followed suit behind them. As the instruments dropped out, signaling Rickly’s first line of the song, every voice in the building joined in singing “write these words back down.”
The song might have ended and the crowd might have eventually dispersed, but for that moment…well, I guess you had to be there.