For fans of hardcore, experimental, alternative rock and emo music, seeing two of the most influential and loved bands of the scene — Circa Survive and Thrice — was a thrill. The two bands headlined two sold-out performances the Shrine Expo Hall on Friday, November 3 and on Saturday, November 4. Adding to that dynamic, potent mix were brief performances by Balanced and Composure and CHON.
CHON and Balanced and Composure co-opened the bill, but made a memorable impression. CHON is an American math rock band. Their music is known for being primarily instrumental-based with some songs offering vocal performances. At this particular show, they only performed instrumentals. They take inspiration from many sources; in the early days of the band, they were more metal and shred-based. But as time wore on, their style changed with subsequent new releases of music, with The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Rush in particular influencing their later music. As a result, progressive rock figured prominently into CHON’s sound.
CHON make a strong use of seventh chords and inversions in their songwriting. CHON also incorporate odd time signatures, a hallmark of progressive rock. Despite the great virtuosity on display, CHON’s set lagged and felt drawn out in not the most interesting way because there were no vocals to break up the strong concentration on pure instrumentation.
The American alternative rock act Balance and Composure has been compared to Title Fight, Brand New and Nirvana. Their set was a bit under the radar, but likable. They are definitely not a band big on grand, sweeping gesturing or theatrics; it seems Balance and Composure want to keep the focus on the music.
Thrice followed the openers. Thrice is known for making music that features a lot of heavy distorted guitars, prominent lead guitar lines and frequent changes in complex time signatures. The band encompasses is the post-hardcore, alternative rock, melodic hardcore, experimental rock and skater rock music genres. They wowed the enthusiastic and vocal audience with an intense onslaught of hard-hitting tracks from their back catalog up to their current date material.
Thrice isn’t big on fan interaction, but vocalist/guitar Dustin Kensrue occasionally spoke simply, with feeling and sincerity, about the band’s output of material — although he mentioned that they weren’t particularly prolific. He talked about liking their B-sides very much and that the band was excited to perform them on this night. Kensrue also spoke about the fans in attendance, acknowledging that there was a mix of new fans along with loyal ones that have followed Thrice for years. The crowd sang along to the songs and the most moving moment came when Kensrue introduced “The Long Defeat” and encouraged the fans to hang in there, remain positive and stay strong.
The mere presence of the night’s headliner Circa Survive onstage caused fan hysteria. It was amped up further when singer Anthony Green basically egged on the audience to go “fucking insane.” Pandemonium ensued as fans threw their shoes up in the air and tried to cross the barricades to reach the stage with the potential of a mosh pit scene. The presence of security was strong and held people back, although a few managed to jumped over the barricades.
Anthony Green was in constant motion onstage and lifted his mic stand several times up in the air and over his head. Circa Survive draws its influences from soft rock, post-hardcore, experimental rock, emo and progressive rock and art rock. The show had a defiant punk rock energy/vibe to it and all the intensity of going for broke live.
Circa Survive Set List:
Child of the Desert
The Glorious Nosebleed
Rites of Investiture
The Difference Between Medicine and Poison is the Dose
At Night It Gets Worse
In Fear and Faith
Stop the Fuckin’ Car
Flesh and Bone
Thrice Set List:
The Earth will Shake
The Artist in the Ambulance
Blood on the Sand
Come All You Weary
Of Dust and Nations
The Long Defeat