Last Tuesday, Thrice turned in a typically stellar live set at the Mayan in Los Angeles. They played a set mostly comprised of material from this year's amazing Major/Minor and 2009's Beggars, with some nice surprises thrown in for good measure.
Support for the show came in the form of Moving Mountains, O'Brother and La Dispute. It would be accurate to say that each band turned in a better performance than the previous.
Moving Mountains were okay, but it was hard to really get a feel for their overall sound; perhaps it was due to the acoustics at the big and (at that point) moderately empty Mayan. At any rate, they were a warm-up for the rest of the night's festivities, and played some songs from this year's album Waves.
O' Brother, an experimental/ambient rock band whose album Garden Window will be released this Tuesday, were up next. They were a challenging band, honestly. It seemed as if each song started out with atmospherics and melodic guitar work, only to end in a gloomy and rather intense metal-inspired jam. It was pretty mesmerizing, but a lot of their sound was drowned out by the Mayan's cavernous walls. They're worth a listen if you're into dark, ambient rock noise in the same vein as Isis and, to a certain degree, Russian Circles.
La Dispute were direct support for Thrice, and apparently they have quite a loving fan base here in LA. Despite being from the Midwest, they had a dedicated following scattered among the flanneled dudes in the pit. Vocalist Jordan Dreyer completely dominated the stage, despite being barefoot. He stomped around, ran in place, and screamed his passionate and wordy vocals along with the rest of the band's melodic hardcore-ish songs.
It takes a certain type of front man to be as active onstage as Dreyer, and his showmanship elevated the band's set from "impressive" to "really great". Along with their blistering performance, the music they played was an impressive blend of urgency, energy, and hardcore-infused aggression. Based on the quality of their live show and their new album Wildlife, the future should be pretty bright for La Dispute.
Thrice capped off the night with a 17-song, career-defining set list. Kicking off with Yellow Belly and The Weight, the first half was comprised mainly of songs from Major/Minor and Beggars, but around the midway point Dustin Kensrue, Teppei Teranishi, Riley Breckenridge and Eddie Breckenridge dove back into their back catalog, much to the delight of many of the fans up close in the pit.
From Major/Minor, Call It In the Air and Anthology were easily two of the set's highlights, with Kensrue introducing Anthology as a "thank you" to the fans who have stuck with the band for so long. Judging by the enthusiasm displayed by the band throughout their set, it was apparent that they really enjoy doing what they do for a living.
In the spirit of "giving back", the band reached far into their early material for a few tunes that pleased longtime fans: Silhouette (from The Artist in the Ambulance) and Cold Cash and Colder Hearts (also from The Artist in the Ambulance) served as a nostalgic look back, while the two-song encore of Phoenix Ignition (Identity Crisis) and To Awake and Avenge the Dead gave many in the crowd their first opportunity to see either song played live.
It was wild to see Kensrue go out in the pit and act as the "hardcore front man", especially considering I'm a relatively new convert to the Church of Thrice. I wasn't into them back in the early 2000s, so I missed out on years of "old school Thrice" shows. Getting to see them delve back into their earlier material at this show was pretty awesome.
In the end, this show really helped me appreciate Thrice even more. They have endured far longer than a lot of music fans probably expected them to back in 2002: many bands that were already established or formed after Thrice have already disbanded, as their respective genres shifted and trends changed. Despite a similar musical landscape, Thrice have been able to do one of the rarest things possible for a band: adapt and shift their sound in such a way that morphs into a truly unique and identifiable sound. Their newer output may not have the same fury and metal-tinged aggression as the songs on Identity Crisis or The Illusion of Safety, but that isn't to say their songs have changed much thematically. The passion and energy are still there, but the metal riffs have been replaced by a focus on melody and Kensrue's affecting lyrics.
It's rare that I can see a band that seems to outdo themselves with each album and each live show, but Thrice are easily among that group. I'm ready for the next tour already.
Thrice set list:
All the World Is Mad
Call It in the Air
Cold Cash and Colder Hearts
Words in the Water
Of Dust and Nations
The Earth Will Shake
To Awake and Avenge the Dead
Below, enjoy two more videos and some (mostly) blurry photos from the gig.