When a hard rock show is done right it should resemble the plot of Apocalypse Now. Each stop along the way should be a little more chaotic and frenzied and when you get to the end, even though you think you knew what you came for, you should leave exhausted and a little confused about yourself. “A Tour with No Name” delivered on this outline… sort of.
The crowd size wasn’t too large, but (and I hate to be critical about my new city that I really like, but facts are facts) we’re talking about a city and a venue that couldn’t sell out a Converge show in a rumored 280 capacity room (though, I think they’ll fit more). Even smaller was the audience who chose to move up front for local opener Orphans. Before entering I was curious how they were going to look performing at a larger venue without their light set up, but to my surprise they brought it with them. This was my third time seeing this band and I imagine most in this city who enjoy hardcore have seen them more. Orphans are a good band, but they also play at DIY venues and people who see them at warehouses and co-ops for 5 bucks aren’t going to hit up a national tour if their only interest is the local act. Nevertheless you can tell the fortitude of a band by how they play for smaller crowds because anybody can be energized by a large audience. If anything, Orphans performed just as they had each previous time I’ve seen them: impassioned vocalist and stage left guitarist, a really tight drummer… and then a bass player and 2nd guitarist sharing the other side of the stage. An interesting thing I noticed about the guitars is that one was heavily distorted and another had a cleaner tone. It might have made for an interesting mix further back, and, admittedly I could have been too close, but it was a little distracting. Regardless, I dug the performance because it reminded me of mid-late 90’s metalcore back before the breakdowns and sung choruses. They also made me think of the bands I would see when I used to go to house shows and DIY venues in South Florida, specifically Jiyuna and Merkit. Orphans have some kinks to work out, but when they go out on tour it’s a band I feel people should definitely check out. Make sure to stand up close during “If Ghosts Could Talk” so you can yell back at the singer “I’m not your friend!” (Also below is a show poster screen printed by Orphans’ vocalist).
Up next was I the Mighty. This was their second to last night on the tour and they brought the energy level up a bit with their brand of Warped Tour rock. It kind of had that Tides of Man indie rock mixed with heavy post-hardcore feel like a slew of other bands that came out with records last year. I’ve only recently been introduced to this style of poppy post-whatever, but already I’m exhausted with it and feel that it’s quickly become over saturated. However, I the Mighty had some well executed harmonized vocals that helped fuel the catchy choruses.
Just Like Vinyl is the new band from Thomas Erak, former frontman/guitarist of The Fall of Troy. I never got the chance to see The Fall of Troy, but my expectations of Erak’s performance were kind of high considering the amount of frantic and schizophrenic pandemonium his past band had displayed on record. Certainly, this is unfair, but Just Like Vinyl surpassed my expectations. The three members not hindered by a drum kit came out like cyclones and never stopped spinning. This was before, during, and after criticizing the crowd for not being very active (which some might see as a dick move, but they were right and were just being honest). Towards the end of the set, Thomas did take a moment to sincerely thank the crowd for coming out to see some bands that not very many people had heard of. Fans of The Fall of Troy will dig Just Like Vinyl, too. They bring a lot of the same elements: high pitched singing/screaming, fretboard tap dancing, and the aforementioned schizophrenic songwriting. What seems to be different is that with the added guitar player JLV is thicker sounding than Troy. I was very impressed with their performance and it instilled in me the belief that no matter what Thomas puts his acrobatic A.D.D. hands on it will be worth checking out.
If Just Like Vinyl was the entering of Colonel Kurtz’s den then A Lot Like Birds was the cast party. This was easily the most fun set of the night; lots of smiles, crowd interaction, and even a guest appearance from the I the Mighty vocalist. One of the vocalists for Birds was the replacement for that mess, Jonny Craig, in Dance Gavin Dance between his departure and subsequent return, but Birds doesn’t sound much like DGD. On record, Birds sound like the missing link between the last 2 Fear Before the March of Flames records The Always Open Mouth and Fear Before. Live, They’re a little more sloppy and sound like The Number Twelve Looks Like You and The Blood Brothers. This may seem like too obvious a comparison or even lazy because all parties have 2 vocalists, but I assure you it’s accurate. The band had an air of spontaneous natural innocence about them and this more than made up for them flying a little loose.