Thrice with Circa Survive, CHON, and Balance and Composure
Uptown Theater – Kansas City, MO – 5 December 2017
A relatively mild December night in Kansas City found me slightly out of my element, as the usual death/doom metal was set aside in order to check out an evening of alternative rock at the Uptown Theater. Bringing together equal parts east coast and west coast, the night’s bill was made up of two bands out of the Philly area, and two bands representing SoCal – both Balance and Composure and Circa Survive are from the Doylestown, Pennsylvania area, while CHON and Thrice are from San Diego and Irvine, respectively.
The Doylestown quintet Balance and Composure have toured with Circa Survive on several occasions in the past, and tonight the alt-rockers offered up a short, yet emotive set of tunes that started off with “Void” from their 2011 album Separation. The remainder of the set was split between tracks from The Things We Think We’re Missing (2013) and Light We Made (2016), with crowd favorites like “When I Come Undone” and “Postcard”. The group ended their 30-minute set with “Tiny Raindrop” from the aforementioned, The Things We Think We’re Missing.
Being a guitar aficionado, it’s always a pleasure to watch the guys in CHON perform. The young SoCal quartet has a dedicated fanbase, and this would mark my fourth time seeing them live. While it did seem like an odd pairing at first, as the previous times I had seen them perform were on tours supporting the likes of Animals As Leaders or Between The Buried And Me, it is still great to see them any chance I get and I would recommend checking them out if the opportunity is presented. The majority of their setlist was comprised of selections from their two full-length Sumerian Records releases, Grow (2015) and Homey (2017). However, they did dip into their 2013 self-released EP, Newborn Sun with “Bubble Dream”, a definite fan-favorite, judging from the crowd’s reaction.
The empty pockets of space in the General Admission area of the Uptown began to fill up as Philly rockers Circa Survive kicked-off a set that would reach into every studio album from their discography – from the 2005 debut album, Juturna, to the most recent 2017 release, The Amulet. Opening with “Child of the Desert” from their 2014 album Descensus, charismatic frontman, Anthony Green, led a captivating performance through the band’s hits, including recent singles like “Lustration” and “Rites of Investiture” off of The Amulet (2017), all the while taking time in between songs to engage the audience in some lighthearted banter. The driving groove of “Tunnel Vision” offers a counterpoint to the atmospheric instrumentation of “At Night It Gets Worse” as the band weaves a sonic tapestry of vibrant colors, while Green’s soaring falsetto on songs like “The Difference Between Medicine And Poison Is In The Dose”, “Frozen Creek”, and “Stop the Fuckin’ Car” covers the full spectrum of emotions. The varied setlist that took the audience on a journey through their back catalog highlights the stylistic range and craftsmanship in songwriting and storytelling that Circa Survive have mastered over the years.
After a brief intermission, headliners Thrice took the stage and opened with the slow burn of “The Earth Will Shake” from 2005’s Vheissu, as the crowd erupted with a roar of approval welcoming the southern California quartet to Kansas City. I spoke to several audience members who were excited to see the band perform this evening, and judging from the crowd’s reactions throughout the set, they were not disappointed by what Thrice delivered. Frontman Dustin Kensrue and Thrice reached into the band’s back catalog and pulled out the title track from 2003’s The Artist in the Ambulance, a definite crowd favorite. Touring in support of their ninth full-length release, To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere, the current co-headlining tour with Circa Survive will be the band’s last set of shows before returning to the studio to start work on their tenth album. The fifteen song setlist was a mix of old and new tracks, with five songs from TBEITBN including “The Window”, “Hurricane”, “Blood on the Sand”, “Black Honey”, and closing the evening with “The Long Defeat”.
2. The Window – To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere (2016)
3. The Artist in the Ambulance – The Artist in the Ambulance (2003)
4. Hurricane – To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere (2016)
5. Blood on the Sand – To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere (2016)
6. Firebreather – The Alchemy Index Vols. I & II (2007)
7. Open Water – The Alchemy Index Vols. I & II (2007)
8. Broken Lungs – The Alchemy Index Vols. III & IV (2008)
9. Come All You Weary – The Alchemy Index Vols. III & IV (2008)
10. Deadbolt – The Illusion of Safety (2002)
11. Silhouette – The Artist in the Ambulance (2003)
12. Red Telephone – Beggars (2009) B-side
13. Black Honey – To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere (2016)
14. Of Dust and Nations – Vheissu (2005)
15. The Long Defeat – To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere (2016)
All photos © Thomas Woroniak Photography