Thrice + Circa Survive + Balance and Composure @ MTelus – 28th November 2017

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Thrice Mtelus Montreal

Going to a Thrice show is like joining a secret club.  As a new member, I noticed that everyone knows the whole repertoire of songs.  There are a lot of bands that I consider to be the Junk Food of the music industry.  They play shallow songs that entertain but don’t have any sustenance.  Thrice is more of the organic whole foods of the industry, music that is deep with meaning and delicious.  With the fan base that I saw tonight, I can see why even a hiatus will not keep the fans away from digesting some Thrice morsels tonight.

Circa Survive Mtelus Montreal

Before that though, there are two opening bands that have solid fanbases of their own. Pennsylvania alt-emo-rockers (yeah that’s a thing right?) Balance and Composure are celebrating a decade of making music and open proceedings in a no-frills, just-play-the-songs style. But they have some great songs. Frontman Jon Simmons’ swaying Morrissey-esque movements are somewhat mesmerising and he seems constantly lost in the music as his bandmates competently lay down the music alongside him. There’s little in the way of chatter from the stage save for a “thanks for being so nice to us” before they shyly make their way backstage.

Circa Survive Mtelus Montreal 2017

Also hailing from Pennsylvania are tonight’s co-headliners Circa Survive. Anticipation is high as the lights dim and five shadowy figures take their place on the MTelus stage. Anthony Green’s unique voice is something that some people are not keen on but tonight he sounds impressive as he confidently moves from soaring falsetto to energetic screams and back again. Child Of The Desert shows the band at their involving best, with layers of instrumentation complemented by emotional vocals before the song suddenly explodes and band members fling themselves in every direction. It’s an impressive opening that suggests we’re in for something special but somehow Circa Survive struggle to hold the attention of the room for the duration of their 65 minute set. Many of their songs are complex yet leave me wanting something more to latch onto. The pace of the set begins to drag after 30 minutes or so and it’s left to their fellow headliners to inject some excitement and energy back into the evening.

Circa Survive Montreal

I was introduced to Thrice via the Vheissu album back in 2005, and they started off their set with “The Earth Will Shake” from that release.  Right away, I could see that the crowd was into it, this secret club all soaking in this first song.  Eddie Breckenridge doing the honors of being the screaming secondary voice that added intensity to the song.

Of course, I was impressed by the solid drumming of Riley Breckenridge whom I interviewed two weeks prior.

They next played “The Window” from the latest album which would delight us with 5 tracks tonight.  As they sing “there’s something in the way the light comes shining through”, I notice the light show tonight.  Although the lights might be simple, in comparison to some other shows, they were highly effective in emitting rays of light from the performers as if they were glowing and energy was flowing out of them in the form of multicolored light.

They next went back to 2003’s “The Artist in the Ambulance” which was heavier than the album version and really got the crowd going, the beginnings of a mosh pit started to form.  Unlike some of the punk shows I’ve attended in the past, this crowd was respectful and just enjoying the show, but with a wild abandon that showed they were simply enjoying themselves and joining Thrice in their journey through time and past albums.

Thrice Mtelus Montreal bassist

“Hurricane” was next from the latest release with a great balance of intensity and soft breaks.  This was one of my favorite tracks from the new release and seeing it live gave it a new life.  There is something about live music, combined with lights and being surrounded by likeminded fans that makes such a show a success.

Dustin Kensrue thanked the crowd for coming and mentioned that they did a concept album called The Alchemy and there were going to play a mini version of that four-volume set.  They started with “Firebreather” and “Open Water” from Volume I & II, followed by “Broken Lungs” and “Come All You Weary” form Volume III & IV.  While concept albums are usually placed on the lower shelf and rarely taken out, it seems that the crowd appreciated these gems that spoke to the hardcore followers of Thrice, of which MTelus was filled with tonight.

Thrice Mtelus Montreal 2017

One of the participants of the mosh pit had a GoPro strapped to his helmet as he body surfed his way to the front on several occasions.  That’s footage that I would like to see, even if it will probably cause me to be seasick with the bobbing of the head.

There was a Tip Jar at the merch booth that said that tips would cause Thrice to play “Deadbolt” from The Illusion of Safety (2002).  I guess the tips came in because as they played it and the crowd went insane.

While the crowd would sing along to many of the songs tonight, “Black Honey” was one that really got them to sing at the top of their lungs.

The last song of the night, “The Long Defeat” would also be one that all sang along tonight.  When a band has such a hardcore following, one sometimes wonders if the new material will resonate.  Tonight, the newer songs were just as well received as the old favorites, cementing Thrice as a band that continues to innovate and please.

As the last notes rang through the MTelus tonight, Dustin warned us that there would not be any encores because of the full program of opening bands.

The lights came back on and people scattered, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the performance tonight.  I might be new to Thrice, really enjoying my conversation with Riley, but I was impressed at the whole production.  The lights added an intensity to the songs and projected Dustin’s voice throughout the venue.  Teppei crushed it, as well as Riley & Eddie.  It’s rare to see a band continually improve over the years and Thrice has shown that it still has it, both delighting the crowd with the old and new songs.

 

SetList

Setlist:
The Earth Will Shake
The Window
The Artist in the Ambulance
Hurricane
Blood on the Sand
Firebreather
Open Water
Broken Lungs
Come All You Weary
Deadbolt
Silhouette
Red Telephone
Black Honey
Of Dust and Nations
The Long Defeat

Review – Randal Wark (Thrice) & Steve Gerrard (Circa Survive & Balance and Composure)
Photos – Steve Gerrard

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Randal Wark is a Professional Speaker and Business coach with a passion for live music. You can follow him on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

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