In my last review I complained about people complaining about shows who don’t even bother to attend them. On Friday night I was proven wrong. The first band, Ireland’s And So I Watch You From Afar, played to a packed and eager crowd. Their spazzy, technical instrumental sound wowed the rest of the audience, but it personally bored me. I just don’t get the whole “math rock” thing. Their songs seemed to lack any sort of flow or theme, jumping haphazardly from one part to the next. Every time the band would latch onto an interesting part they’d jump to another without giving the part time to build and develop. The band themselves were incredibly tight, with great, active stage presence. They all looked really happy to be there, no matter how bored I was.
Once ASIWYFA finished and tore down, it was Touché Amoré’s turn to set up. From the first note TA’s set resonated with energy and passion, vocalist Jeremy Bolm throwing himself and the mic into the crowd. He was amicable between songs, joking that the Scion car company (responsible for free hardcore and metal shows around the country) should give Trash Talk health insurance because they’re “a safety hazard.” The crowd transformed into a pit, crowding around the band and singing along to every word. Only a couple times did security intervene to throw out crowd surfers. Much to my disappointment, the Lily’s Pad has yet to have a single window casualty.
As the last notes of “Cadence” died out and TA broke down, the crowd was more than ready for Envy. Although sometimes compared to Mogwai, Isis and their own countrymen Mono, Envy’s screamo-tinged post-rock has a sound all its own. As the band set up I took the time to go outside to see friends and hand out flyers. This was quickly interrupted by the first notes of “Chain Wandering Deeply” off 2003’s A Dead Sinking Story. I was so excited I almost fell up the stairs rushing to get back in.
This is Envy’s first U.S. tour since 2006 and it was worth the wait. The band played a variety of music from their catalog, including songs off of 2001’s raging screamo opus All the Footprints You’ve Ever Left and the Fear Expecting Ahead. This surprised me as I expected more material off the upcoming Recitation (which the band had for sale on vinyl). Instead the band offered a broad overview of their catalog, only skipping From Here to Eternity and the split with Thursday.
After TA’s visceral set the audience didn’t really know how to react to Envy, instead calmly basking in a state of awe (or boredom, depending on the individual). While TA used brute force and raw emotion to bring the crowd to a state of catharsis, Envy gently nurtured it using slow-building, cinematic crescendos. Badfish, the touring tribute band to Sublime, was actually playing downstairs at the same time, making for some interesting jokes. In fact, there were times during Envy’s set where Sublime covers were audible through the floor, leading to speculation about all sorts of mash-ups.
Despite a language barrier and the slow-building nature of their music Envy coaxed a cathartic experience out of the attentive crowd. It was worth the four year wait to finally get to see the band and their friends deliver a breathtaking and memorable night to all who came out.