Nothing can threaten the liveliness of an evening more than a sobering reminder of a beautiful life being taken from this world to soon—I’m refering to that of actor Paul Walker (She’s All That, The Fast and the Furious). On February 7, Drug Church played the first set of the evening, with songs from their latest album, titled Paul Walker. While some may have felt it was too soon to show any signs of jubilation in the middle of our country’s six-month mourning period, others decided to celebrate our departed angel by way of fist pumping and stage diving.
Drug Church is something of an anomaly to me. They have managed to tour with some of my favorite bands, yet have fully escaped my playlist for years. They almost continued to evade me once more, as they started while I was trying to figure out how I had managed to buy a $10 beer. I sat in the bar, watching them and waiting for a few friends. Opening bands have always had to compete for my attention with my phone and (not so) cheap booze. By the time they finished, I, at the very least, had made a mental note to give them a more committed effort when I got home.
As things switched over, I snuck outside to pollute my lungs. I noticed that half of the people doing the same didn’t look old enough to have bought cigarettes legally. I was trying to decide if I had an opinion on it when I heard Seahaven sound-checking and headed back in. Inside, the scene seemed to have changed completely. The audience took on a whole new image. It reminded me of the old nudie pens with pin-up girls who lost their blouses depending on which angle you viewed it. As Seahaven prepared to start, I hated them. I was sure by their clean-cut, smooth skin, perfectly dressed attitudes that I was going to be sick simply by them talking. They looked like the younger brothers of Calvin Klein models and I hated them for it. I like my artists to look like what they sing. The second they started playing, I found myself suddenly wishing I could contract anything they were willing to give me. I was hoping I wouldn’t be able to look myself in the eyes the next morning. While it was true that they didn’t appear to have the capacity to be the ones singing pessimistic sweet nothings to me, I could find no evidence of voice dubbing or an instrumental tape. Their song “Silhouette (Latin Skin)” sealed the deal for me. I vowed to pick up any merchandise I could get my grubby hands on. I even managed to talk myself into finding guitarist Michael Craver’s uncomfortable head bob endearing.
Enough about the mistress of the evening, though—my side chick quickly left the stage and the true reason for my arrival, mewithoutYou, entered. It was about this time that my suspicions of severely underage smokers were confirmed, as one of the members of security approached me and asked if my name was Amber. When I corrected him and explained my name was Andy, he gave me a confused look and asked, “Is your mom supposed to be picking you up out front?” No, no, she most certainly was not.
While Seahaven may be given the swoon award for the evening, true showmanship goes to mewithoutYou. Their opening song “My Exit” started with lead singer Aaron Weiss contorting like a schoolgirl singing aloud to Shakira in the mirror. Tugging at his jacket, eventually taking it off and putting it on several times through out their set further conveyed the eccentric mindset. After several songs there was pause for commentary to the audience. Weiss began by stating that in no way was mewithoutYou “endorsed by the taco stand just across the street,” and continued a short diatribe discussing the narcotics so easily found in Salt Lake. The correlation was irrelevant, but the message of staying sober and proliferating the consumption of tacos was followed by a chorus of “fuck yeah”s and wolf calls. The final three songs were preluded by a message of “kinship” between the band and Salt Lake with the song The Angel of Death Came to David’s Room and with Weiss proclaiming an “affinity for all manners of strange beliefs.”
Then there was Touché Amoré. I remembered Touché Amoré not only toured with but also collaboratively composed with one of my favorite bands La Dispute. I had moved myself back into the bar area before I made this realization, but I couldn’t have been more glad, because the scene that followed was perhaps more poetic from afar than being in the midst of it. As the night had continued, each band that left the stage equated to their niche following leaving or dispelling through out the venue. This resulted in the remaining audience to be 100% loyal and passionate Touché Amoré fans. The moment the first song kicked on, the entire room exploded into heavy thrashing—flash mobs could not have timed it better. I sat for the remainder, wishing I had the energy of my once-spry past self to join in. Instead, I got to enjoy the spectacle of true fandom transpire. Touché Amoré showcased songs from their latest album Is Survived By, which to me felt more hardcore than post-hardcore, but when it comes to genre splitting, I realized “It’s hard to write content.” Similar to Drug Church at the beginning of the night, the vocals were shot under the heavy instruments, but it never distracted from the momentum. I recognized the power of refusing to be bothered with what’s being said during a performance, and simply letting the song rip through me.
The night left me pumped for this year’s music scene in Salt Lake, and desperately needing to update my music folders. The tour will continue through March 6, 2014, and was a strong, promising start for Salt Lake City’s music year.