Venue: Beachland Ballroom
Source: Yours truly (with help from some videos I took and the bands in question)
My friend and I arrived at the venue just in time for the beginning of TWIABP's set. The first thing I noticed was that even though the Beachland has a pretty decent sized stage, it was crowded up there because this band has seven people in it - a drummer, a keyboard player, a lead vocalist, a bassist and no less than three guitar players. On top of that, as if having seven members weren't enough (I learned later that there were actually nine people who performed on their latest album), I noticed that there were at least four mics on stage - and all of them got used frequently - plus several band members whipped out auxiliary instruments (such as a trumpet in one song) from time to time. Based on this description, one might think they would sound a lot like GY!BE or a band of that ilk, but that's not the case. TWIABP's music is much more straightforward than that. It moves at a pretty decent pace, and there aren't much atmospherics or anything like that. I'd say that they sound like a more post-rock version of Fang Island (but not quite so poppy and upbeat). Anyway, they were pretty good.
The one thing I didn't care for is how the different vocal styles were used. The lead vocalist has a kind of squeaky singing style, whereas one of the guitarists come in every now and then with some screamy vox (sometimes at the same time as the lead), and the whole vocal mix was just a bit much in a live setting. I also noticed that the various instruments are much more controlled and balanced on CD, but on stage their music sounds a bit more messy and noisy. Still, they were a pretty decent opener for this bill. They played:
This World Is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die
Heartbeat in the Brain
I Will Be OK. Everything.
Picture of a Tree That Doesn't Look Okay
You Will Never Go to Space
Next up was the inimitable Caspian. This show marks the fourth time I've seen them, and I think I'd have to say they just keep getting better every time. They didn't play any surprises, but then again their catalog isn't exactly huge yet and all of their stuff is good, so they really can't play a "shocker" of a set. Quite a few songs were from their latest CD, but then again it's probably their best work so no problem there. Their sound was tight and huge, as always. They played for a solid hour, and like every other time I've seen them, it was intense. Their set was:
Fire Made Flesh
Moksha (got video)
Quovis / Further Up / Further In
Gone in Bloom and Bough (got video)
Halls of the Summer
"Fire Made Flesh" was a killer opener. They wasted no time fucking around with soft intros - they just got up there and punched us all in our collective faces and then kept it coming the whole way through until their classic closer "Sycamore", which was as awesome as ever. I swear they slow that song down more every time they play it, and it just keeps getting better. This was a truly great set by a veteran post-rock outfit, and in my opinion, one of the best in the business.
Finally, the electronic post-rock juggernauts from the UK 65daysofstatic took the stage. I'd not seen them before, as they don't tour in the U.S. all that often. I have all of their albums, though, and I've been a fan for a while so I was really looking forward to this. In short, 65 did not disappoint. They started the set with the intro track from their new album (a predictable but very fitting move), but then they went old school right away and played a quintessential 65 favorite "Retreat! Retreat!", which was awesome. After a few more older tracks, they returned to the new album with "Prisms" and "The Undertow", which are both great tracks (really, the whole album is great). After playing a track from their previous album, they played a few more new ones ("Unmake the Wild Light" and "Taipei", which are both killer), and then...their grand finale, the stone cold classic "Radio Protector". I was ecstatic. I'd wanted to hear them play that track in particular for about five or six years now, and they didn't disappoint. The shit was awesome.
65's full set was:
Heat Death Infinity Splitter
Install a Beak in the Heart That Clucks Time in Arabic
Prisms (got video)
Unmake the Wild Light
Neither 65 nor Caspian played encores, but with the set closers that they played, it would have felt almost wrong for them to come back out on stage and start playing again. Each band played for at least an hour (I think 65's set may have been about 1:15), and they both slayed. Overall, this was a fantastic show. If you've not seen any of these bands, I highly suggest that you remedy that unfortunate situation ASAP.