Monday, September 10, 2012

Live Review: Joyce Manor & Algernon Cadwallader, The Black Cat (8/19/12)

Punk rock is a genre of many feelings. It's one of intensity and forcefulness, of progress and change, and of sadness and despair. The combination of these traits fuels the energy behind the music and the emotions created by it. Joyce Manor's coheadliner with Algernon Cadwallader may very well be proof of this, as every second of the show was powered by all of these feelings, creating an atmosphere that wasn't simply just about the music, but the personal lives of the bands and crowd as well.

The Max Levine Ensemble fully encapsulated the the true spirit of punk with their performance. They weren't great singers or great musicians, but it was obvious that they made music simply to give a message. Backstories behind songs were sometimes given, such as with the anti-homophobic and anti-misogynic "Last Of The Assholes." With other song topics such as politics and simple life issues, they came off as a band that simply did whatever the fuck they wanted to. One of the new songs they played was a ska song, written simply because they wanted to make a ska song, and succeeded in making it solid enough to be a big hit in the audience. The Max Levine Ensemble don't get close to breaking new ground, but they're enjoyable enough performers to be a solid opening act, and an energetic beginning to an intense night.

While no official announcement had been made, word on the street was that the show was going to be Algernon Cadwallader's last. The band was fairly quiet on the issue throughout the show, only stating that we "may have heard rumors on the internet" that the drummer was having a baby, and never stated that they were actually breaking up. No effort was made to spice up the show more than anything would usually be, playing a short 30 minute set with their usual setlists. But even as they seemed not to care about the crowd actually knowing the future status of the band, they still put together an extremely passionate performance. On tracks such as "Spit Fountain", vocalist Peter Helmis pushed his voice to an emotional shriek, while guitarist Joe Reinhart showed why he was generally thought of as one of the strongest emo guitarists. The band was on spot for the entire night, showcasing a band that was at the top of their game, and a fantastic sight to see. But the moment of the night came when Joyce Manor joined the band on stage for the last minute of "Some Kind Of Cadwallader," a bittersweet end to a fantastic performance. In a scene focused on a DIY lifestyle, friendship between bands is important, and the invitation for some of Algernon's closest friends to join them for their final bow felt extremely uplifting. Algernon may be over, but based on reactions amongst many bands and fans, their influence will not be forgotten.

Even with the night's show rumored to be Algernon Cadwallader's final performance, Joyce Manor still easily was the most highly received performance of the night, as the crowd went insane from the band's first powerful riff. Even though their set was very short for a headliner, their short songs allowed them to blast through a large amount of their discography, including the majority of their 2011 self-titled album. While it was a tad surprising to hear that they stayed away from their more recent material from Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired, that material is harder to bring to a live setting due to the different arrangements, and the band stuck to what they felt they could perform to its fullest. Of All Things wasn't entirely ignored, as "Comfortable Clothes" was one of the night's highlights, while midtempo track "Violent Inside" showed the band's ability to move from their more normal uptempo pace to a slower one without ruining the crowd's forceful energy.

The band's longest track "Constant Headache" was also an enormous hit, inciting herds of crowdsurfers to hit the air during one of the band's best tracks. Crowdsurfing and moshing were a huge part of the show, as the band even encouraged a circle pit to start, although they suggested it be a "nice, Millencolin-like pit," which the crowd happily complied to. Participation exploded in final track "5 Beer Plan" where the crowd took over nearly half the song as Barry Johnson gave his mic to the crowd and then jumped into the crowd, followed by a stage dive fest by the band's devoted fans. It was an unforgettable moment where the difference between crowd and band disappeared, and instead was just a large group of people enjoying punk. That's a feeling that has become more and more scarce in recent years, as the sense of community has faded in some crowds. But during great moments like these, it's just worth basking in the glory what punk was originally meant to be.

Joyce Manor Facebook
Algernon Cadwallader Facebook
The Max Levine Ensemble Facebook

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