We caught one of the lesser known openers, Bad Veins halfway through their set. My first impressions were that they came off as the stereotypical indie band: obviously influenced by uncolored indie rock like The Strokes and Tokyo Police Club, but with one glaring gimmick: they throw a telephone microphone into their live set.
They’re still a young band, and they weren’t offensive to the ears, so they’ve definitely got potential to grow past the reputation as “that band with the telephone microphone.”
Kevin Devine, besides being a great singer/songwriter, has a sense of authenticity in person that you can’t fake. That may be exactly why his music, usually narratives from his personal life, or his personal views on politics, works so well. He seemed almost too easy-going; in what had to be the quickest soundchecks we’ve ever sat through, Kevin checked his microphone one time and muttered, “Hm. Alright.” He played the bulk of his set from his latest album Brother’s Blood (closing with the almost 8-minute centerpiece, “Brother’s Blood,” below), but there were some old songs (“Buried By The Buzz”, “Just Stay”, and fan favorite “Cotton Crush”) thrown in too. One major advantage of his live sound over the studio sound, is the way that his backing touring band, called The Goddamn Band, fleshes out the songs with spurts of guitar noise jamming.
Thrice were in top form that night. One of the great challenges of being a band this great is having to curate your live set from a catalog that contains no weak songs from a career spanning over a decade long. I think at this stage of the game, they are carving out certain staples of their live sets. You just know they will play songs like “Silhouette” (below), “A Song For Milly Michaelson,” “Image of the Invisible.” Vocalist Dustin Kensrue joked that one of their most popular songs “Deadbolt” would be “sleeping for a while.”
To get a feel of Thrice’s live sound, just imagine an uncompromising mix of loud and quiet. They don’t shy away from playing some of the hardest songs they’ve made, yet they don’t mind playing much of their softer songs either (songs from their 2005 album Vheissu, repeatedly mixed loud and quiet in the same song flawlessly). But their greatest strength is how they grab hold of you. It is impossible to stand with your arms folded at a Thrice show.