Bad Copy

Show Review

Thrice, Circa Survive, Chon, Balance and Composure in Chicago, IL

'Member the days when everything was radical and you were young and full of hope. I 'member.

Photo: Mat Stokes

Nostalgia is a powerful thing. It’s why Full House is back on Netflix as the fucking terrible but I can’t stop watching it Fuller House. It’s why the new Star Wars is posed to be the biggest movie of 2017. It’s  why anyone wants to see old, fat Danzig play with The Misfits. The present and future fucking suck, but ‘member the good ol’ days when you had no worries and everything was fucking radical and you were young and so full of hope and the Power Rangers were definitely not super corny and lame but Mighty and Morphing? Nostalgia. It’s the reason I hopped a train to see Thrice and Circa Survive at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago on a Thursday night to relive the early 2000’s with when I could do something like that and not regret it the next morning. Nostalgia fucking sucks.

The Red Line train was being weird. It was tilting hard to the left and going really fucking slow, stopping for every other train that passed it in the opposite direction. On top of that, it smelled like someone very recently shit themselves and almost every seat was covered in Swisher Sweet tobacco. Someone had a good time. Unfortunately for my own good time, I got to the venue late and missed Balance and Composure, a band I’m sure I would have hated, but now I guess we will never know for sure (except I’m listening to them as I write this and I do in fact hate them). That’s the good news. The bad news is that as I walked up the stairs to the main room of the Aragon, I was greeted with what basically sounded like a mix between someone practicing scales on a guitar and a kid who got his first guitar for Christmas. On stage were four dudes, perfectly splitting the stage into quarters (the drummer was over on the side instead of behind the band) gently swaying to the noise they were making. And then they stayed exactly like that for half an hour. I was waiting for vocals to kick in, but they never came. Chon was basically a shitty jam band updated for 2017. The guy dressed totally in maroon said thanks at one point, as the smoke machine continued to be the most interesting thing on stage.

I was never the biggest Circa Survive fan, but I still think to this day that Juturna is a near perfect album. I drifted away from the band after On Letting Go, but apparently Anthony Green and Circa Survive have been busy, putting out four records since 2007. And a lot of people in Chicago must have liked those albums because the venue was suddenly packed. It felt like an eternity waiting for the guitar techs to tune and sound check; I kind of zoned out until the house music started playing Hot Water Music. I must have literally been the only person in the venue stoked because about 30 seconds into “Trusty Chords,” Circa Survive finally decided to come out and play. I watched one song. Then another. Then another. Eventually five songs went by and I still didn’t recognize a single fucking one. The crowd was going ape shit. The lighting was seizure inducing. Anthony Green sounded great but ended every song with “fuck yeah.” My old man back was hurting and I was so fucking bored. The set was half over and I still hadn’t heard a song I was even vaguely familiar with so I went and sat down in the back, aimlessly Googling things like “why do people pretend to like Kendrick Lamar?” That’s when I thought I heard a song I knew and sprang up to watch them play it. It was really weird, because unlike the newer stuff they have been playing for the last 45 minutes, the two songs they played off Juturna both sounded like absolute dog shit. I had a hard time even figuring out if I knew what songs they were, but after a quick Google search of the few lyrics I could make out, found out it was in fact “In Fear and Faith” and “Stop the Fuckin’ Car.” And just like that it was over, eight or so minutes out of an hour set sort of enjoyed!

Unlike Circa Survive, I was/still am a huge fan of Thrice. Their first two albums are amazing. The Artist in the Ambulance is one of my favorite albums of all time. I even liked the radical departure of Vheissu. They lost me at The Alchemy Index (that fucking Air album suuuuuuuuucked. Fucking soft rock pile of shit) and I stayed lost after that. I didn’t hate Thrice’s later albums, I just didn’t care. But tonight Thrice didn’t fuck around and came out strong with a track off Vheissu, “The Earth Will Shake.” They stuck mostly to songs off their latest album, the long winded To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere, which actually sounded a ton better live because Eddie Breckenridge had that dirty fucking metal tone to his bass that was reminiscent of the way it sounded on The Alchemy Index Vol. I: Fire. Speaking of that album, they off-handedly mentioned it has been ten years since those records came out and played a song off each one. I was hoping they would skip the song of that piece of shit Air album, but of course they didn’t. What they did do though was play “Deadbolt” mid-set, which I found odd until they said they were not playing an encore since it was a co-headlining show and it wouldn’t be fair. Plus encores are fucking lame as shit and should be outlawed. I might have added that last part.

Lucky me, no encore meant as soon as they said they were playing whatever song off their new album as the last song meant I could just fucking leave. I will say, while I get that these bands don’t want to still play the same fucking songs for fifteen years straight, I do appreciate that a band like Thrice will at least attempt to rearrange and change their older songs a bit to make them not only relevant to their current sound, but still a little bit interesting after all this time. And I also appreciate Mat Stokes telling me about the heaters on the train platform to keep you warm while you wait for the damn train to take you home in the middle of winter.


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