Thrice and a Bazillion Other Bands @ Saltair 11.1

Posted November 4, 2011 in
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Thrice's frontman, Dustin Kensrue at the Saltair on Nov. 1. Photo: Adam Metcalf (facebook.com/transcendentproductions)
Thrice is my favorite band. If I was allowed to post a video of me just saying that, it’d probably be a sufficient review"that’s how much love would exude from me. Alas, my job isn’t to make creepy videos of myself, so I must describe it all to you with words.

Let’s start from the beginning. I finished my shift at SLUG just in time to make it to Dustin Kensrue’s (vocalist for Thrice, duh) in-store acoustic performance at the Graywhale on Redwood Road. I’ve never been to one of these before, and it was pretty fucking rad. It was so packed, I had to watch him play from someone’s iPhone held up to record in front of me, but I didn’t even care. For being in a rock band for ten or so years, Kensrue really shines as an acoustic soloist. He got up on stage and effortlessly played “Yellowbelly,” “Promises” and one more song that I can’t recall right now off of their newest release, Major/Minor. The people in front must have been making requests because as he was wrapping up, he decided to play a song off his solo album, Please Come Home. The audience was screaming for both the title track and “Blood and Wine,” but after a cheering vote, “Blood and Wine” won. It was pretty easy to tell Kensrue’s stoked on his solo stuff, and so were his fans. He stood up for this song and everyone was singing along, shit-eating grins on their faces. After the performance, we all lined up to say hi and get his autograph"about 200 kids were packed into the record store and overflowing out the door. I’ve interviewed Kensrue twice now, once for an online feature and the last time for print, but I’d never met him in person, so I was pretty nervous. Lately I’ve been trying to avoid meeting “celebrities” that I admire because last year I went to New York and met a bunch of the actors in my favorite TV show, 30 Rock, and they were kind of douchey, which inadvertently made me like the show less. Kensrue was really nice, though, and even though I was super awkward about it, signed my SLUG mag and told me he’d check out the extra copy I’d brought for him. Yeah, I’m a fan girl.

On to the show! It’s important to note (because after overhearing conversations around me, it seems only a handful of people knew) that Thrice is currently on a headlining tour and so is Manchester Orchestra. I guess they’re all best friends so both tours decided to meet up in Salt Lake. I usually have the pleasure of seeing Thrice at In The Venue, where the 21+ section rocks, but since there were so many bands playing, they probably expected more people and booked the show at the Saltair. I could go on forever about how much I hate that venue, but I have a shit ton of bands to cover, so all I’ll say is that only Thrice could get me to go back. Also, I spent my last $5 for the week on parking, so fuck you Saltair.

I missed Moving Mountains, but I got there just in time to see O’Brother play their last song, which made me kind of sad because I could’ve watched them headbang with that luscious hair for at least two more songs. It’s kind of hard to describe their sound … they get heavy and metal at times, and more ambient and melodic at others. Pretty good stuff, actually, plus that beautiful hair …

Next up was The Dear Hunter. I’d seen them open for Thrice before, and I remember liking them, but I liked them enough this time to look them up after the show. Their songs have a narrative style to them, and are a little more straightforward indie rock than some of the other heavier, experimental bands that played that night.

La Dispute took the stage next, and the moment their vocalist started his staccato, hardcore-style singing, I knew I liked them. They were young and energetic, and had a small group of fans up front singing along to the lyrics. I think they appealed to me because they sound a little like Thursday, which is another one of my favorite bands, mixed with Against Me and Brand New. The guys next to me kept making smart-ass comments about their lack of talent, and I’ll admit they were nowhere near the level of their tour-mates. Their songs were simple and juvenile, but they were a refreshing change in genres, and made me feel nostalgic for those days when I’d lock myself in my room, put on some whiny emo music and mope.

At this point, since no one else seemed to know there were a bazillion bands playing, I kept hearing people around me say Manchester Orchestra would be next, followed by Thrice. This got my hopes up that perhaps I’d missed more than just Moving Mountains, and would get to see Thrice sooner than later. Not that I didn’t appreciate getting a taste of some good new music, but standing in such close proximity to a bunch of smelly, sweaty boys for nearly five hours (I’m not exaggerating here, I arrived around 6:30pm and didn’t get home until midnight) wasn’t the ideal way to do that. Plus, I’m old and I’d worked all day and was getting sleepy.

This is one of the reasons why I didn’t enjoy White Denim. Maybe it’s just me, but jam bands absolutely bore me. White Denim was like a heavy Pink Floyd mixed with Dave Matthews Band. I know, the Pink Floyd part sounds awesome, but I can’t even handle their jammy parts unless I’m watching the laser show at the Planetarium or in a substance-induced daze. And I have zero tolerance for Dave Matthews Band. I’m not going to rag on White Denim too hard, because there’s no doubt those guys are talented, but it just wasn’t my thing. Maybe if they had played earlier in the night, when I was feeling more awake, their music would’ve appealed to me more … At one point during their set, the vocalist took off running laps around the stage, and I turned to my boyfriend and said, “I need whatever he’s on to get through this.”

Finally, co-headliners Manchester Orchestra got on stage, and it became clear there were probably equal parts MO fans and Thrice fans present. I’d never heard Manchester Orchestra before, but I had a feeling I’d like them once their burly, red-headed vocalist came on stage with a big, full beard. He looked like a big teddy bear I wanted to hug. His voice was more high-pitched than I expected, but it seems like the bigger the singer, the higher the notes (Coheed and Cambria, anyone?). Manchester Orchestra remind me of a more rock n’ roll version of Mumford and Sons … though that might just be the abundance of beards and plaid in the band. Their songs were also a bit narrative, like The Dear Hunter, but a little heavier. The only thing that turned me off were the lyrics, which were a little too Rock Church-y for my taste. That’s something that I’ve also had to ignore about Thrice lately, as I feel the lyrics are getting less and less subtle in that area, but as long as the music stays top-notch, I’m okay with pretending it’s not about Jesus.

Thrice. The last couple of times I’ve seen Thrice, they’ve played an amazing show, as always, but perhaps because they’ve grown older and their music isn’t as heavy, there’s been a slight deterioration in the band’s energy on stage. I was curious to see if this would be the case today, because unlike what was happening to me, as the night wore on, the bands seemed to be getting more and more enthusiastic. Maybe this would inspire Thrice a little to keep up the vibe, I thought. That’s exactly what happened, and the minute “Yellowbelly” started up, all thoughts of my warm bed waiting for me at home disappeared. I haven’t stood in the middle of GA pretty much since I turned 21 a few years ago, but I’m so happy the 21+ section at the Saltair sucked enough to lead me there. As Thrice continued on with “The Weight,” my favorite song off of 2009’s Beggars, I was waving my arms and screaming, “Come what may!” along with all the little high school kids I’m usually looking down on. After playing a few more off Major/Minor, Beggars and Alchemy Index, we got a double dose of classic Thrice with back-to-back “Silhouette” and “Cold Cash and Colder Hearts.” The crowd went insane, and so did I. These were the true fans, those who had been with Thrice through every single one of their genre tweaks and listened to every new release over and over until they’d grown to love it. The new stuff is great, but nothing can beat our First Impressions. After playing “The Earth Will Shake” off Vheissu and a few more, mostly from Major/Minor, a sound tech came on stage for a minute and talked to Kensrue, who then relayed to us that they were out of time, but they were still going to play the song he’d just introduced as a thank you to all of us: “Anthology.” It’s a lyrical mash-up of a bunch of other Thrice songs, which Kensrue actually told me in his interview was a love song for his wife, but he must’ve been feeling that positive energy strong enough to gift it to his fans as well. It’s a wonderfully poppy ballad, which I thought was a perfect set up for their final song (as an encore), “To Awake and Avenge the Dead.” We all went bananas over that one, and Kensrue leaned into the crowd as we all pushed forward to meet him, screaming, “TO … AWAKE … AND … AVENGE THE DEAD!” I spent the whole ride home hoarsely recounting my concert stories and fell asleep with that final, epic breakdown playing over and over in my head.
Photos:
Thrice's frontman, Dustin Kensrue at the Saltair on Nov. 1. Photo: Adam Metcalf (facebook.com/transcendentproductions) Thrice's Dustin Kensrue. Photo: Adam Metcalf (facebook.com/transcendentproductions) Andy Hull, vocalist for Manchester Orchestra, and his big, red beard. Photo: Adam Metcalf (facebook.com/transcendentproductions) James Petralli of White Denim before he started doing laps. Photo: Adam Metcalf (facebook.com/transcendentproductions)