Buddy Nielsen of Senses Fail screaming his heart out to the amped up crowd. Photo: Matt Brunk
In The Venue
Major League, Real Friends, Such Gold
It was a night destined for the history books. Anyone who has ever been to In The Venue knows that parking is usually pretty spotty, so managing to score a spot across the street from the venue, and being able to walk across the tracks was unprecedented. Obviously, I was more excited than ever to get inside and embrace more of my good fortune.
Despite my own zeal for Senses Fail and the once-in-a-lifetime parking job, this particular show ended up being located inside of Club Sound, In The Venue's absorbed-in-the-womb twin-fetus brother. The sound sucks, the lighting sucks, walling off the bar sucks, and every show I've ever been to at Club Sound is packed too full for their shitty ventilation. Buy some A/C, you cheapskates.
I got into the venue just as the opener, Major League, started their set. Before hearing about this show, I'd never heard of any of the supporting acts, but a quick Spotify search gave me the cliffnotes. These guys killed it, and I guarantee that they'll be around for awhile if they stick with it. A regular banter theme throughout the night was also started here, thanking the fans for supporting these younger bands in living their dreams. The crowd ate it up, giving their all from moment one and I hope the amazing crowd response from SLC brings them back sooner rather than later.
Real Friends gave another killer set, one that highlighted one of my favorite parts of live shows. I've been to all sorts of shows, but there's something about hardcore/emo/pop-punk bands that rarely gets repeated anywhere else. There aren't any boundaries—the amount of crowd participation and the back and forth between bands and fans is phenomenal. I know a lot of people hate crowd-surfers, and they've got fair points about how reckless and dangerous it is, but there's something about seeing the face of a kid that loves a band getting to share the stage with his idols for those five seconds before jumping back in the crowd that makes it worth it. An amazingly good sport that clearly loves his job, I even managed to snag a shot of a tender moment between lead singer Dan Lambton and one such adventurous fan. That's what it's really all about, kids: hugs and hardcore.
Similarly, Such Gold embraced their own fair share of crowd-pleasing. Another solid set, another constantly rotating parade of crowd-surfers, and more gratitude and well-deserved cheering from the fans. My personal favorite from my Spotify research, Such Gold gives it just as hard as their recordings. I can't say anything more than that—I love them and I'd be down to see them again in a heartbeat, same as everyone else on this bill.
After an already kick-ass night, Senses Fail took the stage and punched everyone in the audience in the face. "Renacer," the title track of their new release, is the hardest song that they've ever written and it's exactly as amazing live as I was hoping it would be. It's so good it hurts, and it hurts so good. If you've ever had the slightest tingle of excitement or pleasure from a Senses Fail song, their live shows sound amazing, and seeing Buddy Nielsen stomping around the stage is one of my favorite sights. Especially after sticking with them so long and through two mediocre albums, it's great seeing them back on top. Energetic as hell and incredibly difficult to photograph, the cheering crowd ate up every note.
One thing they never fail at is mixing the old with the new, and there were plenty of both. Most of the classic singles made it to the setlist, including “Buried A Lie” and “Can't Be Saved”, but I noted a distinct and disappointing lack of songs taken out of From Depths of Dreams. “One Eight Seven” used to be one of their heaviest songs and I was excited to see it paired with the new stuff, but no dice. It's supposedly been on other setlists for this tour off and on, but it seems like kind of a shitty one to miss out on. I know I wasn't the only old-school fan disappointed, but it didn't seem like the rest of the crowd noticed right away.
Considering that Senses Fail apparently hates SLC, it shouldn't be a surprise that we weren't one of the lucky nights to get old songs. I was hoping that this new sound meant they were going to be excited to tour their new album, but that excitement didn't show itself here, no matter how loud the audience cheered. Usually, Buddy's stage banter is hilarious and earnest enough that I can forgive that single most annoying habit of any band, but between songs the band just seemed... bored, and the audience definitely noticed the awkward energy in the room. I can't fault their musical talent, and damn if they don't sound and play better than ever, but a little fucking gratitude goes a long way for a crowd full of people ready and willing to worship you. Instead, we get openers gushing with appreciation followed by uninterested headliners, and then we get post-show awkward shuffling until the techs started dismantling microphones instead of an encore. I don't know what's going on behind the scenes, but leaving the crowd confused and frustrated was a real downer way to end an excellent show, and that room full of let-down fans didn't deserve that.