To begin with I will admit my extreme bias in this review because when this tour was announced I was pretty sure it was the best tour announced in years.
mewithoutYou is such a fun band. It is wonderful to have seen them at The Mason Jar just a few years ago, and now here they are as an opening act at The Dodge Theater. Granted, it was much nicer to see them at The Mason Jar, where they invited everyone out to dinner as they left the stage (about half the audience did leave to catch dinner with the band), it is still a tribute to what a hard-working and good band they are that they have progressed so quickly. In the time since that first show, this band has gotten a little bit flashier, but they still stick to the simple but energetic show they have mastered for the most part. Not many fancy light tricks, this band relies on the power of their music and the energy of their band to involve and speak to the crowd, and it seems to work quite well for them. Aaron has evolved from the shy frontman with a shirt over his head into a more confident leader on stage, though some shyness does remain (that's a good thing). The only bad part of their set was the length: 30 minutes.
Thrice is my favorite band, ever. So obviously I loved their show. I have seen them several times and this might have been my favorite show they've ever put on. Perhaps it was the superior sound quality and stage set-up (I'm not a fan of arena-style shows but there are admittedly some perks, like a good soundboard), but I think a large part of it was their fantastic set list. Although nothing from Identity Crisis slipped into the mix (as expected, unfortunately), a couple songs from all of their other albums slipped into the set list along with more recent music from their just-released album and, if each disc from The Alchemy Index is taken as a seperate disc, I think one of the most remarkable things about their set list was its incorporation of an approximately equal amount of material from all of their discs except for Identity Crisis. That sort of balance is rarely seen in bands which have just released an album and in fact has not even been characteristic of Thrice at other shows I have seen them play. As a fan of all of their material though, it was a welcomed aspect of their show. Songs from the Water disc seemed to fall into the same trap songs from Vheissu fell into when it was released, which is a more awkward incorporation of the songs into he set due to their more comparitively mellow nature. The songs from Vheissu sound great by now though and I expect that Water songs will integrate better with time.
Brand New was the only band on this tour I had not yet had the pleasure of seeing live. Perhaps because they were headlining over my favorite band, or perhaps due to the rave reviews of my friends who have seen them, I had very high expectations for their live show. As they started out I was initially wary. Jesse is an incredibly passionate vocalist live, but in the first song he sang, his preference for screaming parts normally sung began to worry me that their live renditions would be too different for me. Add to that the 7 or 8 people on stage for several songs throughout the evening and I was starting to feel an impending disaster. But then it turned around in the course of a song. I don't even recall which song it was, but all of a sudden the live music clicked with me, and I really got into it. Their stage setup was surprisingly spartan and mellow. The use of fairly dim white lights was the only lighting for their entire set and kept a more laid-back mood in place, which was further accented by their choice to play The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me in its entirety (though not in order). In fact, the only songs they performed that were not on that album were Sic Transit Gloria and Good to Know That If I Ever Need Attention All I Have to Do Is Die. Jesse also played one cover song by himself on an acoustic, which was surprisingly good, coming from a music fan who rarely enjoys the singer/acoustic guitar soloist approach. The most disappointing part of their set was not actually part of the set but rather the encore. Having closed the set with Sowing Season and Degausser (excellent choices) the band chose to come out and jam for about 10 minutes and then leave. Although it was a good jam and enjoyable in itself, it is usually wiser to close the night with your strongest material, so as not to leave audiences complaining as they walk out the door (which I heard plenty of). Otherwise this show was fantastic and I wish I were able to follow it around and see it a few more times, because it completely met the high expectations I laid out for such an impressive band line-up.