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Review Fri Oct 28 2011

Review: Thrice/La Dispute @ the Metro

Chicago set a gloomy stage for last night's sold-out Thrice show at the Metro. Just as the night's first opening act O'Brother prepared to take the stage, a nagging drizzle began to douse the bearded and plaid-clad 20-somethings that flocked through Wrigleyville towards the venue's doors. As a whole, the night's entire lineup--O'Brother, Moving Mountains, La Dispute and illustrious headliners Thrice--could be tossed into several genres: melodic hardcore, prog rock, heck, some might even tag this bill as "emo," but I feel like we should just agree on "rock." Last night was a rock show, and this should come as no surprise to anyone who has seen any of these bands before.

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Dustin Kensrue of Thrice (Photo by Katie Karpowicz)

Last night was undoubtedly a Thrice show, however it would be an injustice to go without mentioning La Dispute's overwhelming representation in the crowd. Two weeks off the release of their second album Wildlife, this five-piece from the nearby Grand Rapids, Michigan has been developing a following in Chicago at an unbelievable rate over the past several years. Their last Chicago appearance in May was a sold-out headlining show at the Beat Kitchen and a hint that this band will only continue to gain momentum.

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La Dispute (Photo by Katie Karpowicz)

La Dispute's success is undoubtedly owed to their ability to pack more energy into each song than most of their contemporaries are doing in entire albums. Frontman Jordan Dreyer literally had to run in place during last night's performance to keep up with his own blistering lyrical spouts. For anyone who has ever seen or heard this band before, it should be clear that while the sounds are heavy and almost spastic at points, there is an unquestionable attention to the aesthetic quality of them as well. For Dreyer and his instrumental cohorts, these aren't just songs. They're poetry set to music.

Some 30 minutes after La Dispute cleared the stage, the four members of Thrice descended upon it in a notably modest fashion. For a band that typically yearns to highlight the cinematic qualities of its music via LED walls, lasers or neon light towers, the sole use of Metro's house lights did seem a little out of character for these Californians.

However, any fan of this band should know that acting out of character is actually quite in character for Thrice. The band's 13-year career can be described as nothing less than polarizing. In their early years, Thrice ruled the realms of aggressive guitar licks, crunchy palm mutes and rapid fire bass drum. Frontman Dustin Kensrue helped pioneer the sing-scream vocal technique that dominated punk and hardcore scenes throughout the mid-2000s. By 2005, Thrice hinted at a departure from their heavier roots with the release of their fourth album Vheissu and their following project--a four EP collection that paid tributes to the natural elements of earth, wind, fire and water--Kensrue and his crew had all but reinvented themselves as a softer, more electronic and keyboard-based unit. It was reinvention that carried a lukewarm response from fans through their 2009 release Beggars.

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Thrice (Photo by Katie Karpowicz)

Last month Major/Minor, Thrice's seventh studio album, hit shelves and surprised many of the band's older fans with a return to their more rock-heavy past. Last night's show kicked off with the grungy album opener "Yellow Belly" and only went up from there. Thrice's headlining slot played out like a theatrical production: the early portion of the set weighed heavily upon the more well-received cuts off Beggars and continued to build the crowd's momentum until a three-song climax that summoned three of the band's earlier and more searing hits (including "Silhouette" off 2003's The Artist in the Ambulance, yay!). The set wound out with a musical falling action, pulling mostly from the softer, more soulful sounding tracks off Major/Minor such as "Words in the Water."

Overall, the band's set was as tight as its ever been and sonically spot-on. Guitarist Teppei Teranishi's fingers were as nimble as ever when it came to fretboard dabblings and the additional vocals he provided made for a more wholesome sound on the mics. Brothers Eddie and Riley Breckenridge (bass and drum, respectively) laid an incredibly solid base for Thrice's live sound. What's most notable though--and what has been for much of Thrice's career--is the versatility of Kensrue's voice. The 30-year-old frontman can cut through soaring choruses with ease and still produce the same guttural screams most often heard on Thrice's earliest records within seconds of each other.

It's been a long, diverse road for Thrice. No one doubts their ups and their downs. But with a promising new record under their belt and a sold-out crowd that was earnestly into each song that passed through the speakers last night, you can't help that Thrice hasn't abandoned their roots as so many rockers do. They've simply grown up.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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