Underoath @ In the Venue

Posted February 9, 2011 in
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In The Venue
w/ Thursday, A Skylit Drive and Animals As Leaders

I’m not the type to attend high school reunions or reminisce about the “good times” passed, but when I saw that two of my favorite bands from back in the day were playing on the same bill, I couldn’t help but don my undersized black band tee and Macbeths for a night of nostalgia. Of course, there’s no way I was going to stand in GA and get pushed around by some sweaty 15-year-olds now that I’m nearly 24, especially not after the “I Caught Fire” incident of ’03 (my hair burst into flame as stray ash from the balcony fell during The Used, true story), so I joined all the bores upstairs at In The Venue.

Animals As Leaders started the show, and I was eager to hear them as I’d been told by a few friends that they were the shit. Turns out my friends have good musical tastes. The trio filled the venue with unexpected sound and energy. Flanked on both sides by music visualizers, the band made it easy to zone out and focus on their long, purely instrumental tracks of intricate guitar riffs, complicated rhythm changes and heavy metal undertones. I had no idea what to expect, but their unique performance couldn’t have been anticipated. I hate to sum them up in an equation because they were so unlike anything I’ve ever heard, but think of the math rock aspect of Fall Of Troy, combined with the instrumental post-rock of Red Sparrowes and a lot of some good dark and heavy metal band (I’m not really a metal-head) and you’ve got a taste of Animals As Leaders. Apparently the band visited Salt Lake three times last year, and I hope they keep coming back. I wish I had joined the handful of audience calling for an encore, it would’ve been nice to hear more.

Lights, Camera, MySpace! A Skylit Drive entered the stage with all the pomp and circumcision of an obnoxious 13-year-old’s profile page and for a split-second, I fell for it, thinking, “Oh neat! They have girls in the band!” It wasn’t until a few falsetto squeals in that I realized there were no female parts among them, not visibly anyway. I get David Bowie, I love Freddie Mercury, but the whole androgynous emo-core thing? Hot Topic must’ve had a sale on ripped jeggings and bad haircuts … Okay, okay, I’m done. I would’ve bashed on these scene kids whether they had blown me away with talent or not, but unfortunately, aside from some catchy beats, they didn’t redeem themselves of their ridiculous outfits. I got bored with their generic, over-the-counter screamo really fast, unable to tell one song from the other, wondering how this band had survived the hipsterpocalypse and lived to swing their low-hanging guitars over their shoulders and jump up and down on amps another day. For more jokes, visit myspace.com/askylitdrive and click on “photos” and “play.”

Thank the almighty Purple Spaghetti Monster for Thursday. I’ll be honest and disclose that the thought of Geoff Rickly’s gap-toothed smile and the promise of hearing their album, Full Collapse, in its entirety is what drew me to the show in the first place, and Rickly and his bandmates did not disappoint … Mostly. Thursday, I love you sooo much I’ve got a dive-bombing dove tattoo, but you are evolving in entirely the wrong direction. While Full Collapse was as great as it has been since its release 10 years ago, and the aging (and widening―I’d still fuck you, but time to retire those form-fitting tees, Rickly) musicians brought more energy to the stage without all the glam required of their tween predecessors, the sampling of their upcoming release, No Devolucion, was dull and disappointing, especially as a way to end their set. Either go the experimental Thrice route and expand your musical horizons or settle down, my darlings. You should NOT be opening for Underoath.

Not that I have anything against Underoath. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised and thoroughly satisfied with the headliner’s performance. Not having seen or really heard much of their stuff for about five years, and knowing drummer/vocalist Aaron Gillespie was no longer a part of the band, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Their set started rather dramatically, with a crazy light show and images and video projecting behind them on a big screen while they jumped right into “In Regards To Myself” off their album, Define The Great Line. Not bad, not bad. It’s the second song, “It’s Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door” from They’re Only Chasing Safety that brought the memories flooding back of getting my jeans ripped in the pit and almost passing out from the heat at Warped the last time I saw them and I turned to my friend and screamed, “YES!” Vocalist/screamer Spencer Chamberlain took over Gillespie’s parts flawlessly and the crowd went crazy as he tossed his long dreads and raised his arms―they definitely deserved to headline this show with that kind of fan base. The set list was perfect, a taste of every album, including their newest and heaviest, Disambiguation, of which they played one of my favorites, “In Division.”

Overall, a great show, with a sampling of what screamo has been, will always be, and is moving into for the past decade.