The Taste of Chaos Tour began in 2005 as the winter brother of Kevin Lyman’s Warped tour. The first year featured about ten bands on multiple stages, including strong acts such as My Chemical Romance, Underoath, Gratitude, Atreyu, Unearth, and Saosin. The second year featured another solid lineup of bands including Thrice, Story of the Year, Silvestein, and The Receiving End of Sirens. In years since, however, the tour has been unbearable, focusing mainly on trendy bands with little substance.
For 2009, Lyman shrunk his tour down to just five acts, with a local opener each night. I arrived late, unfortunately missing Cancer Bats; I did, however, catch the three rotating support acts: Pierce the Veil, Four Year Strong, and Bring Me the Horizon. None of the bands are very good, and Bring Me the Horizon may be one of the worst bands presently touring. A set filled with hate speech and an awful Michael Jackson cover, Bring Me the Horizon should be missed at all costs.
Even so, I could not miss an opportunity to catch one of the best live bands, Thursday. As it was the band’s first tour since the release of their new album, Common Existence, I jumped on the chance to hear some of the new songs live.
Thursday opened with A City by the Light Divided‘s “At This Velocity”, an incredible way to start a show and a first-song staple for quite some time. Inspired by the band’s near plane-crash while on tour in Australia, the song is immediate and doesn’t waste time grabbing the audience. The cacophonous drum blasts and blaring guitars climax with vocalist Geoff Rickly screaming at the top of his lungs: “No time left! Just keep moving!”
Lead single from Common Existence “Resuscitation of a Dead Man” followed, my first chance to hear the song live. Not one of the album’s strongest tracks, the song is still exciting live. Sandwiched between “At this Velocity” and the next song, “Understanding in a Car Crash”, however, it just does not stack up to the extremely high bar the band sets. “Understanding in a Car Crash” broke the band onto MTV in 2001, and it clearly received the warmest response all evening–a rare song that is a favorite of both longtime and mainstream fans alike.
Dedicated to the songwriting of Bruce Springsteen, “Counting 5-4-3-2-1” was the fourth song, and indeed the fourth straight single, in the set. Despite being A City by the Light Divided‘s first single, the song has been noticeably absent from setlists since 2007–likely due to poor mainstream response, and poor fan response. The song simply lacks the Thursday punch that turns a good song into a great song.
“Beyond a Visible Spectrum” and “Friends in the Armed Forces” followed immediately after; both were songs I had not yet heard live. The two Common Existence cuts sounded very good, and it was clear that the band was excited to be playing new material live. “Friends in the Armed Forces” was introduced as a song for all the true pacifists who feel strongly against war.
Two singles from War All the Time followed. “Signals Over the Air” received it’s standard live treatment, making it much better than its studio counterpart. “For the Workforce, Drowning”–one of the band’s best songs–sounded incredible, with frontman Geoff Rickly pouring his heart into every word and finding the crowd just as engrossed. In 2003, Bassist Tim Payne described the song as precisely capturing the band’s sound to a new listener, and indeed, if there is one song that captures Thursday’s live energy, this is it.
During the comparatively mellow “Circuits of Fever” giant black balloons were tossed into the crowd. In context of the song’s mood, the balloons hardly seemed like a gimmick and more like part of the song’s atmosphere. Likely not coincidentally, “Jet Black New Year” followed and the remaining balloons suddenly became celebratory ornaments. Rickly timidly introduced the song as from an EP that “you may not have”, but most of the crowd was ready for it. The band’s standard way of ending the song live mixes Prince’s “1999” into the outro, with Rickly repeatedly singing: “And we’ll party like it’s 1999”.
The fifth new song was “Last Call”, a good song but not one of the album’s strongest tracks, especially in a live context. Luckily the band came right back with “Cross Out the Eyes”, a great live song. Rickly promised to close with “an old song, and then an even older song”; after the previous Full Collapse cut I was wholeheartedly expecting a Waiting song. Perhaps referring to the fact that it has been absent on national tours for five years, “War All the Time” closed the evening, however.
The setlist featured thirteen songs, all singles except for the Common Existence cuts–appropriate for the particular tour that found most of the crowd in attendance not for the headliner Thursday but for one of the three support acts. The full set:
At This Velocity
Resuscitation of a Dead Man
Understanding in a Car Crash
Friends in the Armed Forces
Beyond a Visible Spectrum
Signals Over the Air
For the Workforce, Drowning
Circuits of Fever
Jet Black New Year
Cross Out the Eyes
War All the Time
The brief, single-loaded setlist left much to be desired. The band also managed to skip out on most of Common Existence‘s best songs (“You Were the Cancer”, “Love Has Led Us Astray”, “Subway Funeral”, “As He Climbed the Dark Mountain”). I’ve seen Thursday many times over the last decade, and although it was not one of the best Thursday shows, the band’s performance was very good, and I would certainly recommend making it out to the tour. The band sounded great, putting the opening acts to shame and indeed setting the bar extremely high for all of their peers that will tour through New York City in the coming months.
Please note all photos are credit to Blood and Shutter, an incredible photographer. Please check out his other work, you will not be disappointed.