The first time I saw ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, I was 18 years old and had employed an Ontario ID to sneak into a massive, 400+ venue in Toronto. (By the way, Stavroula Michaelopoulos, thanks a whole lot whoever and wherever you may be. And Canada, thanks for always printing the height in metric. That ID lasted me a long time.) They were on the Source Tags and Codes supporting tour, and they were riding a wave of success and recognition like I rode the weak Canadian dollar and even weaker well drinks. They definitely smashed some shit. I couldn't tell you much else.
I certainly wouldn't have been able to tell you who the opening bands were that night. This was not the case last night. The evening started with Wry who play a style of music that I don't personally care for, but with a military precision. These guys are disciplined and clearly practice all the time. The band can be melodramatic like whoa (like yea? I'm not even sure what the kids are saying these days) but they were at their best when they abandoned drop-d tuning and political ballyhoo in favor of simple power anthems that evoked a stripped-down Rocket from the Crypt.
Wry was followed by Wess Meets West, who offer all the orchestration of Explosions in the Sky with all the choreography of Kiss. The music goes beyond anthemic -- it soars, it crescendos, it breaks the wall of sound. When they interacted with one another onstage, it was to recharge themselves for the next onslaught. The set climaxed with all three members playing the drums in a furious style of improvisation that approached Amon Duul's Yeti. These guys don't just practice together, they must take all the right drugs together, too.
Both Wry and Wess Meets West were an apt prelude to ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead. If the opening acts played with military precision, Trail of Dead engaged in all-out sonic warfare. Last night featured the full current lineup, but original members Conrad Keely and Jason Reece have been playing a few one-off shows in New York as a duo. At one point the rest of the band bowed out, leaving Reece and Keely to shred away on "Another Morning Stoner"'s ritualistic call-and-response. Audience members reported "losing their shit" and generally getting wet at this time. Instruments remained intact, but they were smashed in spirit.
Finally, not related to reviewing music and definitely not taken by the official photographer of the evening (Eric Linsley), I give you this: