For this review, we stopped by the Chicago date of Circa Survive’s fall headline U.S. tour at the legendary Vic Theatre. The tour featured supporting acts: Touché Amore, Balance and Composure, and O’Brother. You can check out our review after the break.
My brother and his girlfriend came over 700 miles to see Circa Survive. Well, she didn’t know that since he was planning on surprising her for her birthday by planning a trip to Chicago so they could see one of their favorite bands. Since the lineup looked pretty great, I agreed to come along, being a rather big Circa fan myself. We arrived at the Vic in Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago about halfway through Balance and Composure’s set. I think my brother summed it up best when he said that if Nirvana were still around, this is probably what they would sound like. The maturity in B&C since they released their four-song EP Only Boundaries several years ago is really evident in their newer material, though they did seem to have a tough time getting the crowd going. Maybe it was the anticipation for the one-two punch of Touché Amore followed by Circa Survive, but I got a sense of restlessness from everyone at the Vic and although the boys in B&C did an admirable job pulling off the spacey-grunge tunes from their latest album, Separation, it just felt like the room was a little flat. That feeling didn’t last long.
Los Angeles’ Touché Amore is hard-charging ball of frayed nerve endings that explodes in the live setting. I had never seen these guys before and only recently started listening to them but they remind me of the records that got me into the hardcore scene almost ten years ago. They take the raw power and emotion of bands like Envy, Modern Life is War, and Shai Hulud, and carve it into two minute slabs of emotional punk rock that pulls at your heart while insisting that you pump your first. Their set was a mixture of songs from their two full-length records, and their set created a pulsing sea of people in front of the stage. Lead singer Jeremy Bolm looked like he was leading a political revolution from a pulpit as he begged the crowd to sing every song with him. And everyone was treated to something special when Anthony Green from Circa Survive jumped onstage during “History Reshits itself” to sing the portion of the song that is handled by Geoff Rickly from Thursday on the album; even more appropriate given that Rickly contributed vocals to the Circa track “The Lottery” on their most recent record, Violent Waves. Despite all the energy that was wrapped up in the first three-quarters of the set, the track “Amends” followed shortly after by “Condolences” to close was something I don’t think I will ever forget. Bolm’s arms stretched to the microphone and his neck was pulled taut as he rocked back and forth and screamed lyrics over a solo piano. An incredibly moving finale to an excellent set; this band is absolutely worth seeing live.
And finally, there was Circa Survive. I really wasn’t sure how they could top Touché Amore, but I have seen Anthony Green and company before and they know how to deliver. They literally exploded onto the stage to fan favorite “Act Appalled” from their debut record, Juturna. Green wasted no time as he launched himself straight at the crowd, climbing into the waiting arms of the band’s quite rabid fans, walking on their palms and shoulders as he belted the song. Confetti shot from cannons side stage. Hundreds of fans sang at the top of their lungs. In all my years covering shows and taking pictures in photo pits, I have never stopped shooting and just joined in with the crowd; this time, I couldn’t help myself. Anthony just has an intensity and a way about him that demands your attention and I got caught up in it as the giant multi-colored screens behind the band flashed a rainbow of colors, confetti flying everywhere, voices raised as high as they could be; it was simply awesome and one of the most incredible openings to a show I have ever experienced.
Unfortunately, somewhere between the opening and third song “In the Morning and Amazing…”, Anthony injured himself. The lights came up and guitarist Colin Frangicetto informed everyone to sit tight a bit as Anthony hurried off stage. It would turn out later that Green had cracked one of his ribs. If this has ever happened to you, I’m sure you know how difficult it can be to breathe, let alone sing and scream the way that Anthony does for Circa. The band came back out after about fifteen minutes and then resumed, obviously changing the set list around between songs in order to give Anthony a breather from time to time. Several new songs were played, including the melancholy and beautiful “Suitcase”, which I hope will become a live staple. “We’re All Thieves” was the emotional high point of the show as an obviously pained Green pushed his voice to some stunning peaks during the chorus. Even despite his injury, Green was unable to completely control himself, heading back into the crowd during “Living Together”, disregarding his injuries. As the night wound down, it became clear that the Chicago crowd was going to get a much shorter set than the band had been playing throughout the tour; a quick but immensely satisfying twelve songs as opposed to the sixteen or seventeen that they had been playing up to Saturday’s date. And it is important to note that as Anthony, who is a wild performer onstage, took it easy on some songs, the rest of the band did not; they played with more energy and passion than I have ever seen them, obviously channeling some of their fallen comrade’s stage presence. It was truly inspiring to see such a gutsy performance from a band facing unexpected adversity. And to think that even on a night as tough as this one must have been for all of them, they played better than just about any other band out there. Get well and hurry back to Chicago boys; we want to see you at full strength.
Information about the review…
Tour: Circa Survive Fall Headline Tour
Bands: Circa Survive, Touché Amore, Balance and Composure, O’Brother
Reviewer: Ian Lashbrook
Date: October 20, 2012
Venue: Vic Theatre in Chicago, IL