Thursday / Envy on the Coast / Innerpartysystem / God Fires Man @ Poughkeepsie 4/24

April 28, 2008

In early April, Thursday announced that they would be recording a split with Envy, a Japanese hardcore outfit on Temporary Residence Records. I got a chance to speak with Geoff Rickly, Steve Pedulla, and Tom Keely, who shed some light on that record:

Unlike A City by the Light Divided, the band recorded the split completely analog, working with tapes instead of ones and zeros. Three songs were recorded and mixed at Big Blue Meenie Studios, a familiar location for Thursday in their home state of New Jersey. Steve hinted that one more song may be recorded, but that for now they’ll be playing a new track live for the first time (which Geoff would later call “As He Climbed the Dark Mountain”, inspired in part by Cormac McCarthy’s The Road).

I spoke to Tom about the Requiem for a Dream soundtrack, a recommendation he made a few months ago to me; he followed it up with recommending The Fountain‘s soundtrack. It’s something I’ll need to check out for sure, as Clint Mansell’s work is remarkable. Geoff’s recommendation of Beirut certainly paid off well, and I can only recommend Beirut right back to anyone who is reading this. We talked briefly about the differences between Beirut’s two albums, agreeing that the first one is probably better.

I got a chance to talk to Steve about record labels and the art of releasing music; we spoke about the NIN and Radiohead method, and it being something the band would be interested in if they had the giant fanbase/audience that those bands have. It will be interesting to see what the band does for their next full-length, as Steve said they are “exploring many possibilities”. After mentioning the leak of their good friends’ Thrice’s Alchemy Index, Steve mentioned his disgust for the demos leaking from A City by the Light Divided, an emotion I can certainly understand, though we both agreed we do listen to album leaks from our favorite bands.

For anyone wondering about the band’s Bamboozle chances (Bearfort?), the answer is a resounding “no”, straight from the band’s mouth. I was interested in talking to Andrew Everding about his role in the upcoming split, but he and Tim weren’t around at the time.

God Fires Man, an alternative rock band from New York City, opened the evening. The band certainly had the energy to keep on pace with their good friends in Thursday, but the live act didn’t do much to convince me that the band really stands out. The band’s drummer really sets the pace for their sound, but they try to merge too many styles without really doing anything particularly memorable. They certainly have their punk and hardcore influences, but they never fully embrace them, instead straddling multiple genres and never really defining their own sound. Their debut record, A Billion Balconies Facing the Sun, was just released in February; I haven’t had a chance to check that out yet, but maybe it will open my eyes to what the band is trying to accomplish.

Philadelphia’s Innerpartysystem set up their equipment next, with a rig including lights and lasers. A band I was first introduced to on New Year’s Even (again, opening for Thursday), they blend a handful of styles together that most closely resembles Men Women & Children mixed with mainstream dance. The band comes off strongly as a novelty; they seem to enjoy what they’re doing, but it’s nothing I’d want to see again, already tired of their act from earlier in the year. It’s something I’d recommend checking out once–you really should see their lighting/lasers–but the band seems more suited to opening for a crowd that is ready to dance. They would define the experience I’d love at a club (see what AFI-side project Blaqk Audio is prying at), but they are extremely out of place opening for Thursday.

Envy on the Coast, from Long Island, New York, directly supported Thursday this evening and opened with”Artist and Repertoire”. Vocalist Ryan Hunter sounds like a watered-down Daryl Palumbo, which is nearly a metaphor for the entire band — a watered down version of some sound they are striving to create. They’re trying, which is more that can be said for a lot of other bands that sound similar, but they constantly fall short. That isn’t to say their efforts aren’t good anyway; they write some solid songs with hooks you’d only expect from a band with a lot more experience. On the flip side, the band tries to incorporate effects and keyboard (and for that matter, a level of technical guitar playing), but the result is never quite as strong as the band will lead you to believe.

Nonetheless, the band played well, with Hunter’s voice sound remarkably close to the their debut album Lucy Gray. In fact, most of the instrumentation is recreated near-perfectly, a good indication that the band isn’t drowning in studio magic. Lucy Gray (and consequently their live show, which consists entirely of material from that debut on Photo Finish Records) is so promising, that you can’t help feeling excited that their follow-up has serious potential, as long as the band decides to move away from their sugary pop elements and more towards the technical side they keep hinting at.

The band closed the evening with “Gift Of Paralysis”, probably my favorite song by the band (if not “Tell Them That She’s Not Scared” or “Sugar Skulls” even). The full set is as follows

Artist and Repertoire
Sugar Skulls
(X) Amount Of Truth
Tell Them That She’s Not Scared
Gift Of Paralysis

Thursday took the stage near 10PM, opening with “Into the Blinding Light” (the first time I’ve seen the band open with this track). Upon first inspection, the band sounds like any local post-hardcore band with tight instruments but with a vocalist struggling to keep up. Luckily for Thursday, this was only the case due to how low Geoff’s vocals were mixed; in this instance, he was completely drowned out by the dueling guitars of Steve and Tom. With the lack of vocals, the song failed to capture the audience.

Geoff stepped down into the crowd for “At This Velocity”, and all doubts of Thursday’s live abilities were immediately put to rest. “Division St.” followed, and Geoff’s vocals were finally more prominently mixed, and the crowd responded appropriately. It’s clear that most fans still prefers Full Collapse and War All the Time, so cuts from those albums definitely got the crowd moving.

Introduced as a song about being forced to write pop-rock songs for a major label, “Dead Songs” was next. Probably the strongest cut on Kill the House Lights, the song interestingly has elements in the chorus that are easily the poppiest Thursday has ever sounded. Even so, their message isn’t convoluted in the least, with Geoff’s delivery as honest as it is passionate.

The car crash pair of songs followed, and though I’ve seen these songs live (especially “Understanding”) many, many times, it’s clear that they are two of Thursday’s strongest live tracks and will remain in rotation for a long time. I was hoping to possibly hear “Panic On The Streets Of Health Care City” (a partial demo of “Other Side of the Crash”) at some point live, but it looks unlikely, and it doesn’t really matter considering how good the A City by the Light product is.

Two more from War All the Time (“Signals Over the Air”, “For The Workforce, Drowning”) were next. Both were performed exceptionally well live, much better than their album counterparts which themselves are great anyway. My favorite live Thursday song, “How Long is the Night?” was next, though this was clearly one of the band’s worst performances of the song. Geoff just didn’t click with the band throughout the song as he normally does. It was nice to see the song reintroduced into the set, however.

The most exciting part of the evening was easily Thursday’s first-ever performance of “As He Climbed the Dark Mountain”. One part The Road and one part a dream Geoff had about the helplessness and sheer terror of losing his father, the song was exactly what you would expect on a split with Envy. The band showcased a side they’ve only hinted at, writing technical, speedy riffs. Tucker pummeled the drums in perfect time, and somehow Geoff managed to sound completely different yet familiar at the same time. The song was dedicated to Geoff’s father who was in attendance.

“Jet Black New Year”, a crowd favorite, rocked The Chance. The band followed up with “The Lovesong Writer”, a great song that unfortunately didn’t appeal to much of the crowd hoping for more older material to close the set. The band walked off stage and came back with an encore of “Autobiography of a Nation” and “Sugar in the Sacrament”, the former being a great way to end a show while the latter not so much so.

A great song live on its own merits, “Sugar in the Sacrament” doesn’t pack the intensity I think the band feels it does, and it’s kind of disappointing to hear them close a show with it, especially when Geoff hinted at the possibility that they would play “A Hole in the World” (a cut I haven’t heard live since War All the Times was released in 2003) after being offered ten dollars to do so by some fans before the show. The full set list:

Into the Blinding Light
At This Velocity
Division St.
Dead Songs
Other Side of the Crash/Over and Out (of Control)
Understanding in a Car Crash
Signals Over the Air
For the Workforce, Drowning
How Long is the Night?
As He Climbed the Dark Mountain
Jet Black New Year
The Lovesong Writer
Autobiography of a Nation
Sugar in the Sacrament

Despite early vocal issues, the band played extremely well the entire evening, especially on the new track, which only excites me more for their upcoming split. There are a few bootlegs of the song from The Chance on Google Video.