Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Live Review: RVIVR, The Pinhook (10/22/2013)

I have one tattoo on my body, and it’s a Latterman tattoo. I got it the second I turned 18 (since the law in North Carolina makes you wait until then, in hopes of avoiding some bad teenage decisions), and to this day, I still wear the Latterman hoodie I purchased for myself when I was a sophomore in high school. I am, of course, sure my devotion for Mattie Canino’s old band is probably the last thing any member of RVIVR wants to hear romanticized yet again, but needless to say, I was ridiculously excited to see one of my favorite musical idols perform in a small, intimate setting on Tuesday night.

The Pinhook is a relatively compact space and generally hosts local bands, so I was pretty surprised to see a national act like RVIVR choosing to book there as opposed to something a bit larger, like Motorco, but the location ultimately proved to be the perfect spot for these Olympia, Washington natives and their infectious brand of passionate, catchy punk rock. RVIVR’s set was sandwiched between two locals, The Radio Reds and Almost People, with the latter getting the extremely short end of the stick, as they were forced to follow the power of Canino and Erica Freas' well-refined dual vocal deliveries.  Almost People played very well, though, in spite of most of the crowd leaving as soon as RVIVR finished, and as a very active local Durham band, chances are you’ll get to experience their fun style of old-school pop punk with dual songwriters very soon if you’re from the area.

Still, it was no secret that RVIVR was the main act of the night, despite their odd set time, and as soon as the first notes of “The Seam” resonated from Canino’s telecaster, the conventional crowd of unconventionally dressed PBR enthusiasts immediately rushed to the stage to shout along. Together, Canino and Freas' guitar tones sounded fantastic live, with neither one overpowering the other and every lead riff cutting through audibly. The prog nerd in me wanted to nitpick the drummer’s sloppy playing, as he drastically sped up and slowed down the tempo multiple times during songs throughout the set, but the lack of precision really didn’t hinder the success and energy of the show by any means.

Simply put, everyone in the crowd was having an absolute blast, probably just as much fun as the band was having, if not even more. I can confirm that not once did Freas stop smiling, even when singing, and some of the more androgynous attendees seemed to be having the time of their lives, as if they were bathing in a giant, welcoming punk rock pool of acceptance. “Wrong Way/One Way” claimed the biggest crowd response of the night as Canino introduced it as a song “celebrating queerness” and not letting other people define your identity for you. Old favorites like “Cut the Cord” and “Change On Me” snuck their way into the set, too, giving the audience a welcomed mix between tracks from The Beauty Between and the previous records.

While RVIVR has certainly caught some flack in the past for their outspoken beliefs on gender politics, that certainly hasn’t stopped them from speaking their minds on stage, and they were definitely in their element this time around in Durham. The crowd rejoiced at the band’s self-proclaimed “toilet dedication,” as Canino and Freas continuously referenced the positive influences underlying the Pinhook’s gender neutral bathroom during the breaks in their set. Adorned with a ponytail and short shorts, Canino seemed as comfortable as ever, and there was nothing but acceptance brewing in the room.  While I may not have as articulate or well-defined beliefs as these musicians do, I was pleasantly surprised by their well-intentioned, non-confrontational social commentary, meant to inform rather than incite, and after leaving the venue, nearly all of my negative preconceived notions I had formed in the past from reading secondhand stories of the "righteous dbags" (Source) fronting this band had completely evaporated.  Latterman was all about getting the boys to stop being so aggressive, and if anyone's going to be able to keep that legendary torch lit, it's RVIVR.  They've got about a month left of their tour, with legs down in Florida for FEST and then some shows through Texas, so if you're around, do yourself a great favor and check them out.  Maybe you'll learn something, too.


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