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Words & Stills : Jake Rabin
Touring in celebration of the 15th Anniversary of their incredible fourth studio-album Vheissu. Thrice was on the docket tonight at Emo’s, along with tour mates mewithoutYou, Drug Church, and Holy Fawn. Released in October 2005, Vheissu helped launch Thrice even further into the mainstream realm, peaking at Number 15 on the Billboard 200 chart. This album’s sound is a slight departure from the band’s previous work, which was more rooted in post-hardcore and punk. By contrast, Vheissu felt more experimental and artistic, pushing the band’s instrumentation and sound forward. Upon its release, Vheissu received wide critical acclaim. They have even been called Thrice’s best record (I personally think Artist in the Ambulance is hands down their best record, but I digress…) The energy at Emo’s leading up to Thrice’s set felt electric, the swelling crowd all clearly present for one reason…
Opening the night were Holy Fawn, a 4-piece combining elements of electronic, doom, rock and post-hardcore (with a little heady acid to boot). Full disclosure – I never heard of this band prior to this show. My mind was completely blown, and I instantaneously became a fan. Their mix of beautiful, airy synth parts with crunchy guitars and an incredibly powerful screamer made for a unique sound and performance. If you haven’t listened to this band yet, their most recent release is “Death Spells” and it is 61 minutes of post-hardcore experimental amazingness. I really can’t emphasize enough how good this band is.
How Did Drug Church Stack On Austin Crowd At Emos
Up next were Drug Church, a 5-piece alternative punk/hardcore band out of Albany, New York. This was a band I had a little more familiarity with. I certainly was excited to finally get a chance to see them live. Problem was, there is a huge cultural difference. Namely, in the way live music is consumed in Austin versus the rest of the world, and this can either completely make the show, or break it.
Simply put: Austin audiences are spoiled and expect to be entertained. They will sit (or stand) in the crowd, arms crossed, silently watching. Even if and when they are having a great time. Maybe they will clap at the end of a song. Maybe they won’t. Maybe they’ll scream on command like you ask, but probably they won’t. This is just what it is; with so many amazing musical options in this city every single night, many Austin music consumers have become jaded, easily taking for granted the talent that comes through this city to perform.
As an Austin musician, you get used to this. Quickly, actually. As a touring band coming through this city, especially a punk(ish) band, I can certainly empathize with that band’s struggle to read and react to an Austin audience. And this was unfortunately what befell Drug Church: a band playing high-energy, made-to-mosh bangers to a largely motionless crowd. This was clearly a confusing audience to the band, and I can understand why. Regardless, Drug Church powered through and ended their set strong, making way for the legendary mewithoutYou.
mewithoutYou Shows The Fans What Hardcore Is About
Led by vocalist Aaron Weiss, mewithoutYou took the stage and immediately plunged into their heady, post-hardcore set. Opening song “Julia (or, ‘Holy to the LORD’ on the Bells of Horses)” quickly set the pace for the rest of their show, and the band sounded as tight and strong as ever. Playing tracks from all across their discography. The die-hard fans came out in full force, screaming back every lyric and air drumming the iconic parts. After 11 songs, the band thanked the audience and exited the stage. Next up: the real reason we were all here…
Thrice Takes Emos By Storm
The moment that Thrice front man Dustin Kensrue took the stage, all of Emo’s erupted. As if the pent up energy saved during the first performers could now finally be excised into the music universe. There is a reason that Vheissu opens up with the track “Image of the Invisible,” (the song is absolute fire, and is one of Thrice’s strongest and most objectively well-written pieces of music). This is exactly why they opened the set that way too.
From the moment that the immediately-recognizable Morse Code section begins the track. The entire crowd became activated, and the energy and intensity did not stop once. (fun fact: the Morse Code at the beginning of the song spells out the albums’ title. Thanks, Wikipedia!) Screaming or moshing or simply staring in awe, the Emo’s audience was enraptured, and the energy was palpable. The nearly sold-out venue was packed with a crowd as diverse as Thrice’s songs. Filled with fans of all ages were crammed tightly into the pit, swaying and jumping and screaming and loving every moment of it. The band performed a total of 18 songs. Finishing out their incredible set with “Words in the Water” off 2011’s “Major / Minor” album.
How Did Thrice And Support Talent Fare Up?
Overall, Thrice does not disappoint. Period. This was my 5th or 6th time seeing them live over the last 16 years or so, and I’m just as impressed now as I was as a teenager. Musicality, instrumentation, song quality, performance. They are solid in every way. Thrice mastered their own sound and uniquely carved out their own space within a growing, homogenizing scene. The fact they now can celebrate a 15th Anniversary by touring this record to sold-out crowds all over the country is a huge testament to just how important and impactful this band is, and will continue to be.