“I know with Thursday we’re supposed to be this sad emo band, but we want you guys to have fun at our concerts so we bring out bands like Converge,” a paraphrased Geoff Rickly said to the crowd in Philadelphia’s Trocadero Theatre on a warm April night. It wasn’t just Converge, though, that Rickly was referring to; openers Lewd Acts and Touche Amore both play a style of music not readily associated to that of Thursday.
Lewd Acts kicked off the evening with a twenty-minute blast of non-stop intensity. The California four-piece tore through hardcore song after hardcore song, with frontman Tyler Densley spending half of the set jumping into the crowd, opening pits on the floor, or climbing onto the upper-level balcony. Clearly interested in exciting the small audience — only about a hundred people made it in time for their 7PM start — the band succeeded in pumping up the crowd for the next few acts.
Touche Amore played next, sticking heavily to 2009′s To the Beat of a Dead Horse during their brief twenty-minute set. “Cadence” was particularly solid, and a brand new song from an upcoming split with La Dispute sounded promising. Closing with “Honest Sleep”, frontman Jeremy Bolm came into the crowd to sing along with a passionate group of fans who knew every word. It’s hard to imagine Touche Amore remaining a well-kept secret for long; expect them to be a household name in underground music fairly soon.
Hardcore/metal legends Converge took the stage at 8:30PM, with drummer Ben Koller laying down pummeling metal drums for the next hour. Despite a back-catalog that spans two decades, the Massachusetts natives stuck entirely to their post-millennium output, beginning with the excellent Jane Doe leadoff, “Concubine”. “Dark Horse” was punishing, but the string of No Heroes cuts including “Heartache” directly into “Hellbound” was exceptional. Axe to Fall contributed a bulk of the setlist, including the title track and “Wishing Well” into “Damages”.
Frontman Jacob Bannon raced around the stage for the duration of Converge’s hour-long set, encouraging anyone who knew the words to sing along, often offering the microphone out to those who got close enough. You Fail Me‘s “First Light” intro began the last part of Converge’s excellent setlist, with the commanding “The Broken Vow” from Jane Doe tossed into a mix of other You Fail Me cuts. “Last Light”, featuring pounding guitars and bass from Kurt Ballou and Nate Newton, respectively, closed out Converge’s solid performance.
Reap What You Sow
Axe to Fall
Eagles Become Vultures
The Broken Vow
Beginning with the brash “At this Velocity”, Thursday kicked off their setlist at 9:50PM. On drummer Tucker Rule’s cue, “Division St.” followed, with the entire crowd singing along. “Friends in the Armed Forces” was particularly urgent and well-performed, with Geoff Rickly passionately singing his pacifist beliefs. “For the Workforce, Drowning” — normally a rock-solid staple to the band’s live show — was disappointingly sloppy, with Rickly even skipping the song’s entire bridge.
Full Collapse favorite “Paris in Flames” gave touring-bassist Lukas Previn his first bass solo of the tour; Previn more-than-adequately filled in for Tim Payne on bass, even adding a welcomed youthful demeanor to a band that often finds its guitarists stationary on stage. Thursday’s two “car crash songs” went back-to-back, an interesting but, after five years, totally predictable moment.
“Beyond the Visible Spectrum” was a very welcomed addition to the setlist, and the band nailed the rarely performed song. Anchored by guitarist Steve Pedulla’s excellent hammering riffs, “Signals Over the Air” sounded great. Common Existence lead-off, “Resuscitation of a Dead Man”, was executed excellently and works much better in a live setting than it does in the studio.
The next ten minutes found Thursday slowing things down, with keyboardist Andrew Everding leading the way on “Sugar in the Sacrament” and current single “Circuits of Fever”. Neither song is particularly worthwhile in a live setting, and it would have been a much more redeeming experience to have a different Common Existence track — “Subway Funeral”, originally on the printed setlist — instead of “Circuits of Fever”.
Touche Amore’s Jeremy Bolm shared vocal duties with Rickly on “Jet Black New Year”; Thursday extended the song with Prince’s “1999″, as they have been doing for the last half-decade. “Autobiography of a Nation” wrapped up Thursday’s setlist with Rickly coming into the crowd and letting anyone within arms reach of the microphone sing along.
At this Velocity
Friends in the Armed Forces
For the Workforce, Drowning
Paris in Flames
Understanding in a Car Crash
Other Side of the Crash/Over and Out (of Control)
Beyond the Visible Spectrum
Signals Over the Air
Resuscitation of a Dead Man
Sugar in the Sacrament
Circuits of Fever
Jet Black New Year
Autobiography of a Nation
With the last-minute removal of the rarely seen “Subway Funeral”, Thursday’s song selection was as predictable as ever; the band has stuck to a similar setlist for each of their tours since the release of A City by the Light Divided in 2006. It hurts not to see more songs from Common Existence, such as the aforementioned “Subway Funeral” or “You Were the Cancer”, the latter of which is arguably one of the band’s best songs to date. A few missteps aside (such as guitarist Tom Keeley slipping off-key or Rickly leaving out blocks of lyrics), Thursday was fantastic and an absolute must-see live show for anyone who has yet to see the New Brunswick six-piece. For fans who catch the band on their routine trips around the New Jersey area, though, Thursday’s setlist is becoming stale. The band is set to hit the studio in June to record a followup to Common Existence with producer Dave Fridmann. Before they tour on that album, though, it would be great to see Thursday toss a handful of the rarely seen Common Existence cuts into a show somewhere along the way.