May 5, 2017 Thursday Tear Up Irving Plaza, NYC 4-29-17
After a six year hiatus, the Post-Hardcore legends Thursday announced their reunion tour at the dawn of 2017. Long overdue in the eyes of fans, it all kicked off up in Boston, Massachusetts back on March 28th, leading into a string of shows that saw the band visiting cities coast to coast. Coming a few months after their December 30, 2016 surprise hometown show at Starland Ballroom in New Jersey, after some time apart of one another, the members of Thursday have seemingly rekindle their passion for playing music together.
Elated to see the band’s return, the initial April 30th New York City show sold out so quickly, a second show was added for the night prior. The bookend to an amazing tour, the two sold out back-to-back nights at New York City’s Irving Plaza would include an unparalleled lineup consisting of Cities Aviv, Basement, and Touche Amore. Marking the band’s first New York City shows in quite some time, their long overdue return to The Big Apple would come on Saturday, April 29th.
First to kick things off that evening was experimental Rap Artist known as Cities Aviv. Memphis, Tennessee-based Gavin Mays made a name for himself after the release of his 2011 mixtape, Digital Lows, prior to his two studio albums, 2014’s Come to Life and 2015’s Your Discretion is Trust. With several of his tracks receiving hundreds of thousands of plays on streaming sites such as Spotify, later in the night, Thursday’s Frontman Geoff Rickly cited Cities Aviv as one of his favorite artists.
Although Cities Aviv arrived on stage just as Irving Plaza began to fill out, he asked the dedicated few who showed up early to gather close to the stage to share in his music. Early in the night, the platform was packed with instruments set up for Touche Amore, Basement, and, yes, Thursday. As for Cities Aviv, only a microphone and a soundboard were necessary as he recited his lyrics over intricately produced tracks like “Survival Fit” and “URL IRL.” Unfortunately, beyond the artist’s control, the sound setup made his voice sound a bit muffled and difficult to understand, but even so, watching Cities Aviv own the packed stage was exhilarating.
Dancing along to his tracks in front of Thursday’s massive banner backdrop emblazoned with the words “Refugees Welcome Here” and “Protect Immigrant Communities” aside Thursday’s classic stylized dove, Cities Aviv proved to be a worthy opening act. While Rap music may seem like a far cry from the Post-Punk of the other three bands on the bill, there was a similar theme of belonging and acceptance that weaved each of them together. That said, spectators seemed to be open to Cities Aviv’s passionate music, and chances are, he found some new supporters during his set.
Vocalist Jeremy Bolm, Bassist Tyler Kirby, Drummer Elliot Babin, along with Guitarists Nick Steinhardt and Clayton Stevens began the performance with “Flowers and You,” the opening track from the aforementioned Stage Four. At this point, a decent portion of the growing crowd moshed and sang along to the emotionally-charged track as each song on Stage Four processes the loss of Bolm’s mother to cancer.
Following the intense start, the band kicked things up a notch, rolling through older tracks like “Pathfinder,” “The Great Repetition,” and “Art Official,” from 2011’s Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me. Paying close attention, Bolm’s on-stage relationship with fans was inspiring to both watch and be a part of. Holding his microphone out to crowd-surfers who sang the lyrics as they flew over the barricade, all were making efforts to get closer to Touche Amore’s music.
A band that is outstanding musically, they were able to recreate the brilliance of their recordings and translate that freneticism in songs like “Benediction,” “Home Away From Here,” and fan-favorite “~.” Bolm also made sure to thank Thursday for taking the band on their first tour in 2009 and credited the headliners for allowing Touche Amore to be where they are today. Though they only played for thirty minutes, Touche Amore managed to cram thirteen songs into their too-short set, much to the joy of the crowd.
Fortunate for Basement, they had the benefit of the penultimate set as Irving Plaza was packed to near capacity as they took the stage. As the band kicked things off with two older tracks, “Whole” and “Fading,” Basement fans immediately began moshing, crowd-surfing, and singing along to the band’s hard-hitting mix of Grunge, Emo, and Punk. Vocalist Andrew Fisher never stopped moving as he bounced around the crowded stage while Guitarists Alex Henery and Ronan Crix, Drummer James Fisher, and Bassist Duncan Stewart led the charge through newer songs such as “Aquasun” and “For You The Moon.”
Moving forward, Fisher made sure to thank those fans who were ‘dancing in the pit’ through “Earl Grey,” “Crickets Throw Their Voice,” and the heavy closer “Covet.” Even though a great portion of the crowd may have only made the journey to Irving Plaza to see Thursday, Basement’s brand of hazy Rock and atmospheric stage lighting gave them a bonus jolt of excitement.
Overjoyed to see Thursday perform again, when the band did finally file on to the stage at Irving Plaza, the noise level inside the walls was deafening. With cheers and applause pouring down, the band began their set as they so often do, with 2003’s War All The Time explosive opener “For the Workforce Drowning.” Sacrificing their bodies, fans flung themselves toward the stage and screamed along to every word, actions that would continue all set long. This in mind, from the get-go, it was clear that Rickly and company could still bring to the stage that fierceness, raw feeling, and immediacy that defines each of their records.
Following that, “The Other Side of the Crash” gave the crowd a taste of the stellar 2006 LP, A City By The Light Divided, but the house exploded as soon as the words “Full Collapse” escaped Rickly’s mouth. The 16-year-old album sent Thursday into the limelight and separated them as one of the best bands lyrically, vocally, and musically in a genre full of lesser imitations. Speaking of which, 2001’s Full Collapse favorite “Cross Out the Eyes,” one of Thursday’s hardest-hitting tracks, sent the crowd into a full-fledged frenzy, but then became much less mobile as the band went into “Beyond the Visible Spectrum,” which was the only track off of 2009’s Common Existence featured during the set.
Going into “Autobiography of a Nation,” prior to the track, Rickly commented on the two banners that flanked the band’s signature dove. They read “refugees welcome here” and “protect immigrant communities,” two messages that are especially relevant in the melting pot of New York City. He stated that, “If what I’m saying offends you, then you haven’t been paying attention,” after which the crowd cheered. Thursday’s music has always had a political slant, and the messages in tracks like “Autobiography of a Nation” remain just as poignant today as they did years ago.
From here, continuing their mix of newer and older tracks, Touche Amore’s Jeremy Bolm joined Thursday on stage to scream the chorus of “Counting 5-4-3-2-1” before the band rolled through “A Hole in the World” and “Signals Over the Air.” After that, red confetti rained over the crowd during Thursday’s “party” song, “Jet Black New Year,” which is one of their darkest, heaviest tracks often saved for last. Rickley swung his mic over the crowd as they counted down to the song’s grisly bridge.
Then, completely shifting the mood, the band filed off stage and left Rickly kneeling on the stage backed by Everding’s keyboard for “This Song Brought to You by a Falling Bomb.” Here, Rickly showed off his incredible vocal ability and proved that he his still one of the best in the business. Following that, the band rejoined Rickly to finish off their set with “Division St,” “Sparks Against the Sun,” and their most recognizable track, “Understanding in a Car Crash.” Of course, enthusiastic chants of “one more song” began to ring through the venue, and in response, Thursday returned to play “War All The Time” and “Turnpike Divides” to finish off their incredible set.
Each member of Thursday, especially Rickly, seemed genuinely excited to be playing together once again. That in mind, the fans were even more overjoyed to be able to hear some of their favorite tracks live after so long. While the band made no mention of creating any new music together, they did not need to, simply being a part of and celebrating Thursday’s legacy was enough. The band’s musicianship is impeccable and fascinating to watch, and thankfully they will be continue touring through June. Now, all there is left to do is hope Thursday continues to keep at it because the passion put into their live show is something that should not be missed.Photos by: Andrew Fiero Photography