A music blog, established 2010. My name is Chris Cappello and I'm a Yale student from New Haven, Connecticut.

"Pianos Become The Teeth"
Thursday, November 29, 2012

Interview: Jamie Rhoden of Title Fight (11.28.12)

I may never be able to get into Joyce Manor, but when it comes to hyped-up “org-core” (the name used to describe bands that receive consistent praise on the punk website PunkNews.org), I can definitely get down to Title Fight. Their new record Floral Green is a shockingly mature followup to 2011’s Shed, expanding their aggressive emocore sound into territory that is more refined and yet much more dense and experimental. It’s in stores now via SideOneDummy

I got a chance to talk to Jamie Rhoden, one of the group’s dual frontmen, before they played a sold out show at The Space in Hamden on Wednesday. We talked about the new record, the power of nostalgia, and annoying kids on the internet. Feel free to stream an audio recording of the interview at the embedded link below. The full interview has been transcribed as well for your reading pleasure.

Chris Cappello: Hi — For the purpose of the audience listening, could you introduce yourself, say your name and what you do in the band?

Jamie Rhoden: I’m Jamie Rhoden and I play guitar in a band called Title Fight.

CC: Title Fight, of course, is a rising punk rock band from Kingston, Pennsylvania whose new full length record Floral Green is out now on SideOneDummy Records. They are playing a show tonight at The Space, which sold out in advance. Thanks for sitting down and talking to me.

JR: Thank you.

CC: So, first off — you’re currently on tour with two bands that I really enjoy and one of whom I’ve seen a number of times, Pianos Become the Teeth and Single Mothers. Together I think your three bands kind of form this interesting trifecta that sort of covers everything that’s really big and happening right now in punk rock. All these different styles.. I think you all come at it from a different angle. How did you link up with these bands?

JR: We do make a conscious effort to tour with bands that don’t sound the same with respect to the way we approach the song. We just thought it would be interesting to make the lineup dynamic and diverse. We knew Pianos for a minute because they played a show with us in Kingston, and we asked them to just jump on this because they’re nice dudes and their band’s cool, and our friend Jeremy showed us that band Single Mothers. We just liked them a lot, and we just figured we’d ask them to do this tour. We’d never really talked to them or hung out with them before, but they’re really cool. 

Pianos Become The Teeth

CC: You mentioned this desire to always tour with bands that don’t necessarily sound like you, and yet there is this kind of scene that exists despite these differences in style. I would point to a number of bands that have attempted to revive or at least evoke some of the styles of ’90s emocore in the past five or so years, a lot of whom have gone the Cap’n Jazz influence route and taken twinkly guitars and complicated math rock time signatures. Title Fight, to me, seems to come to a similar conclusion but through a different angle. Are you trying to make revivalist music, or do you constantly strive to be progressive and contemporary but through the lens of that style. Would you say it’s as direct an influence as some people have alleged?

JR: You know, I’m not entirely sure because we all write songs from a different perspective — Shane [Moran] and I — and then Ben [Russin] will put his own thing on the drums and come up with a line here and there… My approach generally is just that I hear a few chords that I enjoy and I’ll try to make a song how I would like to hear it. I like a lot of ’90s music and alt music, and so I try to approach my interest in specific chord structures, specific styles of riffs, and pedals and delays and whatever, but I try to approach it from a style that I guess would be relatively similar to a ’90s grunge/emo approach. It’s not like I really try to do it; it just happens. 

CC: If you could name one band or artist that has influenced your work, particularly in Title Fight, what would that be?

JR: Jawbreaker. When I started listening to that band, my idea of music changed a little bit more, and that definitely is a really important moment in my life. 

CC: Well, you can definitely hear it in the music. I want to talk about this new record Floral Green, which, like I said, is out now on SideOneDummy Records. To me, the new album seems to represent a departure of sorts from the more aggressive, hardcore-influenced sound of some of your previous material including last year’s Shed into this sonic territory that is simultaneously more mature, but also more accessible. That’s an interesting balance, because a lot of bands can’t really reach that. I guess the real question is: Did you guys make a conscious decision to change up your sound or does the sound of the new record indicate a natural development or maturation?

JR: I think it was very natural, but in the same respect, we made a few faster songs and a few songs that sounded a little more like Shed unintentionally, but when we evaluated the songs we had for the record, we decided that the record itself would make a stronger statement in our minds if we put on the songs that we ended up putting onto it. It was a little bit of a conscious effort, but only after the fact we had already made all the songs, we decided which ones made the record the way we like it. 

CC: You were talking about Jawbreaker, and the extent to which a lot of these ’90s bands have influenced your work. There’s definitely an element of nostalgia for that time period that I think comes through particularly on the new record. Also, I think that nostalgia is corroborated by some of the ways that you guys have worked to promote it, both the album artworks and also the music videos that you have released in advance of the album.  The video for “Secret Society” in particular is a lot of fun. It’s one of the more creative videos I’ve seen this year and really in a long time. Does nostalgia play a role in your creative process both when you were making the video or when you were writing the record and recording it?

JR: Well, when we made the music videos, we realized that a lot of our contemporaries were using high-definition cameras and things of that nature and we weren’t as interested in that. We thought that VHS just had a cooler vibe — it wasn’t so much that it was a ’90s vibe, but we just thought it looked more interesting. Approaching the videos, we just wanted all our friends to be a part of it so we asked Ned [Russin’s] girlfriend Hannah to help with the “Secret Society” video and Shane came up with the idea. He just said, “Hey, let’s make a video where there’s this girl who’s obsessed and ends up cutting the face off of someone.” We thought that was pretty crazy, but with the help of our friends, it came out the way I like it. 

Title Fight - “Secret Society” (Official music video)

CC: You were talking about your usage of pedals and stuff… There’s a lot of sonic variation on the new album. It seems like there was a lot of experimentation going on and you guys do everything from Jawbreaker-inspired pop punk with an edge to something like “Head In The Ceiling Fan” which is this really heavy, drawn-out, shoegaze inspired thing. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where the sounds on this record come from. What were you guys listening to when you were writing and recording these songs?

JR: Shane was listening to a lot of Hum. Ned was probably listening to a lot of Youth of Today, and I guess I just flip between a lot of ’90s grunge and emo in general. Moreso, I kind of just got interested in pedals, and so as the record was being developed, I had this craving to add more texture to it, so I experimented a lot with a lot of different things, but I guess overall, a lot of ’90s music again was what we were listening to. 

CC: That’s really interesting. It definitely covers a certain spectrum of indie rock and punk music that I don’t think many records can catch in one sweep. 

JR: Thanks.

CC: Alright, the last thing I want to talk to you about is something that has always fascinated me ever since I developed a presence on the internet. I have a blog on tumblr, a radio show which runs through the internet as well as on the actual radio, and one thing that I’ve noticed since getting into your music a while ago is that you guys have a really supportive — I would almost say ‘aggressively supportive’ — internet fanbase. They reblog pictures, they buy records, and maybe most importantly, they buy tickets to shows at places like The Space. I feel like in pop music, there’s this pressure that a lot of artists feel either from their label or their press team to pander to their audience, but I get the sense that in punk and independent music, there’s less of that. Do you guys feel any pressure to conform or pander to your audience ever? Do you think it’s annoying ever, when you see stuff like that?

JR: I mean, to each their own regarding when I see it going for other people, but Title Fight has always been very serious about making it exactly what we want and not caring about the outside world in a sense of anything that would affect our artistic approach. It’s super flattering having all these people appreciate what we’re doing, but when it comes to songwriting, talking to specific press, or this or that, we’ll only do it if we want to. 

CC: That’s good to hear. Classic punk morals, I guess.

JR: I think they’re important.

CC: They are important! Alright, that’s about all I have to ask you, but thank you Jamie, it’s been really nice talking to you.

JR: Likewise, thank you. 

Setlist from last night’s show.

________________________

Title Fight’s new album Floral Green is out now on vinyl & CD via SideOneDummy Records.

Saturday, November 24, 2012
manic-productions:

Don’t miss out on your chance to see Title Fight on tour with Pianos Become the Teeth and Single Mothers at The Space. There are fewer than 50 tickets left for this show and it WILL sell out in advance. 
___________________
Tickets available NOW
Facebook event page

I’m also happy to say that I’ll be interviewing Title Fight at this show and subsequently posting the interview on here/airing it on my radio show. Their new record Floral Green is out now on SideOneDummy, and it’s stellar. 
This is going to be one of the bigger shows in Connecticut this year. Get a ticket in advance before it sells out!

manic-productions:

Don’t miss out on your chance to see Title Fight on tour with Pianos Become the Teeth and Single Mothers at The Space. There are fewer than 50 tickets left for this show and it WILL sell out in advance. 

___________________

Tickets available NOW

Facebook event page

I’m also happy to say that I’ll be interviewing Title Fight at this show and subsequently posting the interview on here/airing it on my radio show. Their new record Floral Green is out now on SideOneDummy, and it’s stellar. 

This is going to be one of the bigger shows in Connecticut this year. Get a ticket in advance before it sells out!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Video: The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die - “Victim Kin Seek Suit” (Live at The Space. Hamden CT. 2/25/12)

Here’s a video of my other favorite moment from the show last night. At the very end of the band’s set, TWIABP’s frontman Tom Diaz, who in my experience has always seemed really shy and introverted, unexpectedly pulled a rockstar move and launched himself into the crowd for the anthemic end of “Victim Kin Seek Suit.” I was right in the front and I got to hold on to Tom and sing along with everyone else. It was so inspiring and wonderful to have so many of my friends in one place, shouting those words at the top of our lungs. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. 

Check out my full review of this show, which Pianos Become The Teeth headlined, HERE

(Source: theworldisa)

Video: Pianos Become The Teeth - “I’ll Get By” (Live at The Space. Hamden CT. 2/25/12)

It just so happens that the two videos that I’ve seen surface from the Pianos Become The Teeth show last night captured my two absolute favorite moments of the whole night. This video captures the true highlight of the show for me, which was when Pianos Become The Teeth performed “I’ll Get By,” the closing track from their excellent 2011 LP The Lack Long After. They closed their set with it, and it was a really powerful moment.

I wrote about this particular performance and the show as a whole (which also featured four other great bands) HERE. Check out the review. I’ll reblog the second video right after this.

(Source: unsignedunleashed)

Photos: Pianos Become The Teeth w/ Xerxes, The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die, The Saddest Landscape, and Wess Meets West live at The Space. Hamden CT. 2/25/12

Check out some photos I took from the show last night in Hamden. I reviewed this show in full HERE, and I would really appreciate it if you read the review. 

More photos from last night’s show are up now at the Lewis and his Blog facebook page

PIANOS BECOME THE TEETH live at The Space. Hamden CT. 2.25.12

Shows like the one I saw last night don’t happen every day in Connecticut. Actually, shows like last night probably don’t happen every day anywhere. But every once in a while — maybe only a handful of times in a given year — the punk stars align and the necessary pieces fall into place for a truly stacked punk rock show here in the Nutmeg State. The show last night wasn’t particularly momentous on paper — no bands on the bill were breaking up or reuniting, no major records were being released that night — but with the energy in the room and the musical powerhouses on stage, it certainly felt like a big deal. To strengthen my point, the last ‘normal’ local show I can point to that held the same sort of atmosphere happened almost a full year ago, when My Heart To Joy played in New Haven with Pianos Become The Teeth, TransitThe World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die and Fugue. Incidentally, two of those same bands were featured on the bill last night. 

After some uncertainty about bands arriving on time and a slight beginning delay, the new haven group Wess Meets West came onstage and opened the show. Readers of this blog should be familiar with their relentless and aggressive brand of mostly instrumental post-rock, as I’ve covered them extensively in the past, but for those of you who aren’t, I highly suggest listening to their newest record Chevaliers, which took the #14 spot on my Top Albums of 2011 list. This show was the second of theirs that I’ve seen since the release of that record, and although they lacked the manpower that they displayed at their record release show back in December, they still worked fairly well with their traditional 3-piece lineup. The performances were a little sloppy, and the largely hardcore-prone audience didn’t seem to totally understand what the band was doing, but to me, the songs themselves were good enough to make the experience worthwhile.

Next up were The Saddest Landscape, a veteran screamo group that seemed decidedly more aligned with the crowd’s general music tastes. Despite the band’s unequivocally hardcore musical aesthetic, frontman Andy Maddox surprisingly revealed himself to be quite an indie rock nerd before their set, humming the opening bars of Weezer's “My Name Is Jonas” during soundcheck and complimenting a crowd member on his new Cursive t-shirt. From the beginning of the set, however, The Saddest Landscape were all business. Their performance was incredibly tight and energetic, revealing a dedication to performing and a musical prowess that was impossible to overlook. It was a powerful reminder of just how long this band has been active (nearly a full decade, which is practically a lifetime in punk years), which is something that many probably don’t realize, given the amount of hype that exclusively surrounded their past two records exclusively. Their highlight performances bookended the set; You Will Not Survive's opener “Declaring War On Nostalgia” got things off to an energetic start, while “Eternity Is Lost On The Dying” provided a vocal chord-shredding singalong closer. Songs from their stellar new record After The Lights also sounded excellent in the live setting, especially the opening track “In Love With The Sound,” which Maddox dedicated to the headlining band that night. 

With two bands down and three more to go, I was pleasantly reminded of the fact that The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die were on the bill last night. I’ve seen this band so many times at this point that I’ve actually started relying on their live shows the way that someone less musically-inclined might rely on comfort food. Their shows are consistently very good, almost never truly ‘great’, but that’s just fine for me because I know that there will almost always be another one on the horizon in the coming months. Case in point: they’re playing this exact same venue midway through April with Into It. Over It., and I’m actually scheduled to open for it. The issues that consistently plague their shows are entirely forgivable and almost exclusively technical. I predicted prior to their set that something would go wrong, and sure enough, something did; their bass head completely died very early on in the set at perhaps the most inopportune moment imaginable.

The band had just begun playing an extended ambient intro when Flaming Tsunamis/Swear Jar member Chris Zizzamia took the stage and began reciting a poem, which, according to Greg Horbal, he had written just hours before the performance. His moving spoken word piece ended with a direct reference to one of TWIABP’s songs — "I will be okay. Everything will be okay." Zizzamia said, "I will be okay. Everything…"

With that, the band launched into “Eyjafjallajokull Dance,” nailing the first two verses and inciting the crowd in a way that I had never seen them do before. It was utterly beautiful and overwhelmingly powerful… and then the bass cut out. It was a tremendously depressing moment for everyone in attendance. Thankfully, the band made up for it once they switched out the bass head, performing a handful of other great tracks from their discography. It seems that every time I see them, the crowd is more and more engaged, and last night was no exception. “Gordon Paul” unsurprisingly elicited the greatest response from the crowd, but the highlight for me came at the very end. As “Victim Kin Seek Suit” exploded into its anthemic second half, the preternaturally shy frontman Tom Diaz launched himself into the crowd and sang the last few words with the audience. I wrapped my arms around him and shouted into the mic with a crowd of equally devoted TWIABP fans, and at that moment I felt at home. I never expected that level of comfort from him, and I’m actually quite proud. 

At the time, I would have been content with the night ending after TWIABP’s set. Thankfully, it didn’t. In accordance with the laws of punk rock, Pianos’ tourmates Xerxes were slated for the sub-headliner spot, despite not having garnered much of a following up here in the north. As I quickly learned, the Louisville, KY-based band plays a strain of emotive hardcore in line with such groups as Touché Amoré. Like many of the attendees that night, I didn’t go in with great expectations of Xerxes, but I soon learned that I should have been paying more attention when people recommended them to me in the past.

Although looks certainly don’t account for everything, there is definitely something to be said for Xerxes’ visual aesthetic. Whether it was intended or not, the band members all came onstage wearing color-coded black and white clothes with starkly matching instruments. I won’t mince words here; they looked fucking badass. Fortunately, they had a sound to match it. Although their vocalist looked like he was practically seventeen, he screamed and shouted with all the aggression of the most grizzled hardcore frontman. Furthermore, although I initially scoffed at the band bringing in their own bass head and cab for the show, it turned out to be absolutely essential; the bass guitar rumbled with doom-metal intensity, while the two guitarists provided a searing underpinning for the band’s brief hardcore anthems. 

The only real problem I had with Xerxes’ set actually had little to do with the band itself. It was a problem that plagued the sets of most of the bands that night, but one that was especially bothersome during this one. Some kid — I don’t know who he was, but I know it was one particular person — was instigating an incredibly obnoxious forced circle pit in the middle of the room, and throwing himself around inside it evidently just for the fun of it, at the expense of almost everyone else in attendance. If you’ve ever been to The Space, you probably understand that this is not the venue for those kind of moshpits, nor is this music the kind that warrants them. Xerxes is not a ‘tough guy hardcore’ band. This wasn’t a ‘tough guy hardcore’ show. This kid wasn’t even a ‘tough guy,’ so there was absolutely no legitimate reason for him to disrupt the somber and emotional atmosphere of the show with his bullshit antics. I’m not sure if it was the aggressiveness of the music or just the level of obnoxiousness, but I was very angry by the end of Xerxes’ set. Thankfully, that only enhanced the power of the group’s music. 

The set change provided me with some time to cool off, as many of the other attendees and I prepared ourselves for what was sure to be an emotionally draining headlining set from Pianos Become The Teeth. The last time I saw Pianos was over a year ago, at the previously mentioned New Haven show. Since then, they have matured a lot as a band, both in the studio and, as I found out, in the live setting. Their 2011 record The Lack Long After, which placed at #40 on my Top Albums list, has been getting a lot of plays from me recently, as the album is generally centered around the universal theme of loss. I was pleased to hear plenty of the newer material during their set because of all the attention I’ve been giving that record lately, and I found that I was able to engage with the band on a more personal and active level than I was last year. 

It was clear that most of the crowd shared my sentiments, as the Pianos crowd last night was as energetic and engaged as almost any audience I’ve seen. It was also evident that the band recognized the level of engagement; Kyle Durfey even took the opportunity to thank the crowd for being so great at multiple times throughout the set. 

The band itself sounded excellent, with a particularly propulsive rhythm section that really highlighted the post-rock aspects of their sound; however, the best part of the show for me was not how tight they sounded, but how much the emotions expressed in the lyrics and music resonated with me in the live atmosphere. I’m not going to suggest that the loss I experienced recently even comes close to Durfey’s loss of his own father, but at that time and place, as I shouted Durfey’s words back into his face, I felt for the first time that someone genuinely understood how I felt and recognized that my pain was valid. It’s a sentiment that, to me, represents this style of music at its very best. When someone can capture the intensity of his or her emotions with such efficiency, and then convey it via brilliant art, that’s when that person has truly succeeded in his or her artistic pursuits. I hope that Durfey felt validated by his performance last night, and by the rest of his performances on this tour, because he certainly deserves to. As a listener and concert-goer, I personally felt validated in a way that I haven’t in a long time, and for that, I think that Pianos Become The Teeth deserve my sincere personal thanks. As a critic, I believe that they deserve similarly high praise, but for slightly different reasons. From any perspective, it’s hard to fault this band’s performance last night. I’ll just close by saying that at no point in this year have I felt so right as I did singing along last night to their closing song “I’ll Get By,” in which everyone in the room (and seemingly everyone in the world) raised his/her hands to the sky and shouted out that same sentiment that we’ve all felt to some degree at one point or another: "I still feel the lack long after." Now that the show’s over, I’m feeling a slightly different lack, but at least in this case, the memories haven’t gone sour. 

8/10

Check out Rider’s blog for what are sure to be some great photos of tonight’s show. It was an intense and exhilirating experience, and this shot of Pianos Become The Teeth's bassist Josh Regensberg certainly captures that. A full review of the show is coming tomorrow morning, but right now I'm about to go to bed with Kyle Durfey's voice in my mind and a powerful ringing in my ears. 
Thanks to everyone who came out to the show and said hello to me. It seems like I get more new people coming up and saying hi at every local show I attend. 

Check out Rider’s blog for what are sure to be some great photos of tonight’s show. It was an intense and exhilirating experience, and this shot of Pianos Become The Teeth's bassist Josh Regensberg certainly captures that. A full review of the show is coming tomorrow morning, but right now I'm about to go to bed with Kyle Durfey's voice in my mind and a powerful ringing in my ears. 

Thanks to everyone who came out to the show and said hello to me. It seems like I get more new people coming up and saying hi at every local show I attend. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012
xkylexcorex:

tobonics:

braindrained:

allagesct:

THIS IS TONIGHT! MORE INFORMATION HERE!

ill be here tonight

good gig is good

good gig was good

Can’t get over how good the gig was. The end of Pianos’ set nearly had me in tears. 
Full review + pictures coming tomorrow. 

xkylexcorex:

tobonics:

braindrained:

allagesct:

THIS IS TONIGHT! MORE INFORMATION HERE!

ill be here tonight

good gig is good

good gig was good

Can’t get over how good the gig was. The end of Pianos’ set nearly had me in tears. 

Full review + pictures coming tomorrow. 

(Source: lewisandhisblog)

I’m going to this tonight and reviewing it tomorrow. It should be a great time. If you see me there, say hi; I’ll be wearing an Andrew Jackson Jihad shirt and probably hanging out with Jack. 
FYI, tickets are still available if you want to go. Find out more information about this show HERE. 

I’m going to this tonight and reviewing it tomorrow. It should be a great time. If you see me there, say hi; I’ll be wearing an Andrew Jackson Jihad shirt and probably hanging out with Jack

FYI, tickets are still available if you want to go. Find out more information about this show HERE

Friday, December 2, 2011
Left of the Dial Radio Show: 6-8 PM On WNHU

Tune in now!

Click the link above to tune in to my radio show Left of the Dial live on WNHU. I’m in studio right now with my friend Jared, who’s going to be helping with my show tonight. We didn’t have a show last Friday at this time because I was away for Thanksgiving, which means that there is going to be a ton of new music on the playlist tonight. Expect new material from Pianos Become The Teeth, Sharon Van Etten, Holy Ghost! and many more!

The show will air live for the next two hours, from 6 to 8 PM. Feel free to leave a request for us in my ask box. The playlist will be posted tomorrow. Thanks for tuning in!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

topshelfrecords:

Some of Pianos Become The Teeth’s set during My Heart To Joy’s EP release show last night at The Lilly Pad in New Haven, CT. (Thanks to s4mmich!).

More video from Pianos Become The Teeth's set last night… Awesome! “Filial” was huge.

MY HEART TO JOY Live at Lily’s Pad. New Haven CT. 3.4.11

(photo by Tyson Luneau)

Last night, a massive crowd packed into Lily’s Pad upstairs at Toad’s Place in New Haven to see the near-legendary Connecticut emotive hardcore band My Heart to Joy play. The sold-out show had been announced months in advance by Manic Productions in collaboration with The Arc Agency, who billed it as the release party for My Heart To Joy’s new Reasons to Be 7”. But for the dedicated fans at Lily’s Pad last night, the show was much more than that. 

On February 14th, the band announced on their official blog that they were planning to break up. Accompanying this announcement, they posted only two tour dates — one on March 4th in New Haven, and a final one on May 14th — thus making the New Haven show their second to last show ever. For many of the show’s attendees, this would be the last time they would be able to see the group perform live. Understandably, the show took on a deeper significance even before it happened. The burden was on My Heart to Joy to make the show incredible and unforgettable.

Given the stunning quality of the four opening bands’ sets, one may have thought this would be more difficult than it appears to have been in retrospect. Local math rock band Fugue played first, and set a high bar with their enormous-sounding instrumental music, which recalled 3rd wave post-rock bands such as Explosions in the Sky in terms of harmony and melody. My jaw definitely dropped at at least three points during their set when they threw the instrumental focus to the wind and each member began maniacally screaming into his or her respective microphone, adding a raw, primal aspect to their already overpowering sound. 

The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die played second, and after their set was over I was sure that I had already witnessed the highlight of the night. Having seen [long band name] three times now, I can confidently say that this was their best show yet. While their performance wasn’t as note-perfect as their set at BAR back in February, the venue and the crowd perfectly suited their music. The combination of those things, plus a new setlist made it amazing. 

After an energetic and rousing set from TWIABP, Topshelf’s premier post-hardcore band Pianos Become The Teeth came on, and nobody was ready. Their set was easily the most intense thing I’d ever experienced in a live music venue, and even having only familiarized myself with their music — a mix of authentic screamo, post-hardcore, and elements of post-rock — fairly recently, I found myself truly swept up by the madness of it all. 

Bruised and battered, my friend and I took refuge behind the glass that separated the floor from the bar to hydrate and safely observe the next act, a pop-punk band named Transit, from a distance. I wasn’t really familiar with them, and I wasn’t hugely into their music, but we both agreed that it would certainly be fun to be in a band like that. The members seemed to really enjoy themselves throughout their set, and I suppose it was good to know that at least some people in this scene were not only genuinely happy but could make music that reflected that.

As great as the opening bands were, everyone knew by the time My Heart to Joy took the stage that the best part of the night was still ahead. For those who hadn’t seen a My Heart to Joy show before (myself included), their setup was immediately striking. The band’s two drummers were positioned directly across from each other, while guitarists Chris Teti and Greg Horbal stood at opposite ends of the stage, with the group’s bassist positioned between them. In the center of it all was singer Ryan Nelson, whose tremendous height and shocking blonde hair made him appear as intimidating as he was indomitable. 

The band started without warning, and opened with a track from their debut EP called “That Ungodly Arch-Villain Voltaire Is Dead”. In addition to being one of my favorite My Heart to Joy songs, it was a perfect choice for an opener. After a couple minutes of buildup, the song exploded with energy that surpassed the studio version by far. When the song reached its climax, I was instantly brought back to when I saw Titus Andronicus at the very same venue over the summer. But while screaming the lyrics to “Titus Andronicus Forever” was an amazing experience, shouting the repeated line in “Voltaire” was on an entirely different level. Forgive me if it’s cliche to relate my experience to the lyrics of the song, but at that moment, I really did feel as though not even a god damn mountain could stop us. It was a huge musical moment for me, and countless others in Lily’s Pad that night.

They then proceeded to rocket through an amazing, career-spanning setlist that brought out the very best material from each of the band’s four albums. In the intense live environment, My Heart To Joy’s newer material gained a rawness that is not present on the studio versions, making songs like “Steady Habits” and “Farewell to a Raincloud” — both from Reasons to Be — flow together seamlessly with more aggressive tracks such as “The Hours Change So We Don’t Have To” and “Virgin Sails.” 

Perhaps the most impressive thing about the show was the incredible range of emotions that the group expressed through their music. Whether it was anger, sadness, or uninhibited joy, these incredible songs conveyed the most extreme feelings conceivable. While “Voltaire” may have filled me with more anger and aggression than is probably healthy, I can’t remember being as filled with happiness as I was when I heard that gorgeous opening riff to “All of Life Is Coming Home” live. Similarly, I don’t think any live show has given me feelings of such urgency as I had when singing along to “Giving My Hands Away”

The setlist was also geared towards audience participation, and featured many of My Heart To Joy’s most sing-along-ready songs. Incidentally, the crowd was more engaged than pretty much any crowd I’ve ever seen at a show. It was really something to behold, but also something that I’m proud to consider myself a part of.

Before I knew it, the show was over, but not before the band pulled out its most rewarding song at the very end. With that instantly-recognizable, absolutely sinister sounding opening riff, they began to play “Ethics”, the opening track from Heavenly Bodies. Fittingly, the band finished one of their last shows ever with their first song ever, a fifty second rager that quickly explodes and then implodes just as quickly into a gang-shout of awesome proportions before the instruments come back in for one last fifteen second stand. In concert, they expanded the shout-along part, but not by much. Nevertheless, those last thirty to forty seconds of the show packed enough catharsis to last a lifetime. 

I can only imagine what their last show is going to be like…

9/10

Setlist:

  1. That Ungodly Arch-Villain Voltaire Is Dead
  2. Empty Homes
  3. Steady Habits
  4. The Hours Change So We Don’t Have To
  5. Virgin Sails
  6. Seasons in Verse
  7. All of Life Is Coming Home
  8. Farewell to a Raincloud
  9. Giving My Hands Away
  10. Ethics

Video: Pianos Become the Teeth - “Cripples Can’t Shiver” (Live at Lilly’s Pad - New Haven, CT 3.4.11)

This was the most intense moment of the whole show last night. It was a really incredible, heavy performance. Also you can see me and my best buddy at 1:24!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

MHTJ (EP Release), Transit, Pianos Become The Teeth, The World is, Fugue

allagesct:

This Friday, gonna have a good time.

Follow AllAgesCT for the best local all-ages music news. Also this show is going to be amazing. 

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