Written by Mike Moger
‘Juturna’ 10 Year Anniversary Show @ the ‘House of Blues’ Boston, MA (October 25th, 2015)
The trip to Boston this past Sunday evening proved to be an interesting one. It marked a few firsts in my life: getting picked up by an Uber, being so close to Fenway Park that I could literally lean against the wall surrounding it, and witnessing a band I’ve held very dear to me in a venue I have never been to before. Of all the things to do in a vast city like Boston, I think I successfully knocked off three of the biggest ones in one night. Being so used to Cambridge shows all the time (quite frequently going to the Sinclair and the Middle East), it was a quite a treat to actually be in Boston for one. And the stage was set for a night of epic proportions. The House of Blues is, of course, a historic venue for the city and did not disappoint in scope and promise of entertainment. The floor space alone was about twice the size of the Sinclair, but not nearly as big as the Royale, which ended up being perfect for a show that promised a little bit of everything. You have Citizen with their not-so-hardcore-ish days behind them, Rx Bandits providing more groove and rhythm, and Circa Survive for all of your feels and angelic melodies.
Citizen came out heavily, full of fuzz, and ready to make their mark on the right. The mere fact that Circa asked them to open for this tour is huge for the still young band, Nick Hamm noting that most of them were 10 when Juturna first was released and calling it an honor to perform alongside it. Of the three times I’ve seen them live, this set felt different. It almost was like a new direction was being taken, something that has likely come from their recent LP ‘Everybody Is Going to Heaven.’ Mat, a frequently cited fan of Brand New, has definitely taken that influence into consideration, with “Cement” sounding like 2015′s “Gasoline” along with the rest of the album bearing similarities to the wild and weird ‘Daisy.’ My biggest realization during their set is how much intensity Mat gives in the few heavy songs they still play (ie. “Stain,” Numb Yourself”). He’s legitimately yelling/screaming up there, which I felt was great. While I wasn’t a huge fan of EIGTH as an album, the new songs sounded amazing live. Despite having a short 30 minute set and mostly still crowd aside from the closing of “The Summer,” Citizen provided an awesome start to the show.
I never really listened to Rx Bandits aside from my brief stint of absolutely killing their song “It’s Only Another Parsec” during my Guitar Hero days, but nevertheless I was excited to be properly introduced with absolutely no bias factor. Perhaps it was my inner desire to maybe, just maybe witness even the smallest acknowledgement to a supergroup known as The Sound of Animals Fighting. For those of you unaware, TSOAF was a supergroup of about 11 rotation members, but the core of the band was rooted in Rx Bandits’ trademark technical skills and Anthony Green’s signature vocals. At this point, it’s like adding two plus two.. Like will there be a mini-TSOAF reunion on this tour? The mere thought of this possibility was more than enticing to me, so my anticipation to see Rx Bandits was through the roof; a feat unrivaled to that of any singular band I’ve never listened to before.
The result? Rx Bandits are one technically fucking proficient band. And downright fun to listen to as well. Mixing in reggae influences in the tempo and vocal delivery from frontman Matt Embree, the band spans virtually every genre possible within their cathartic and explosive live performances. Honestly it was a treat just to watch them play. Not even experience the music, but just to witness the stage presence; you could immediately tell how comfortable the band is with each other. Most songs included extra bridges that extended their pleasures (I couldn’t record a setlist, but it seemed like seven songs max in a 50 minute set). It was at this point where the crowd started to really get moving, after being mostly stagnant for Citizen. Overall, I was very impressed by Rx Bandits and will most certainly be checking out their music more intently.
Imagine yourself back in 2005 (my guess is middle school) and being blissfully unaware of the amazingness that was released on April 19th. I was not among those people who knew of a band out of Doylestown, PA called Circa Survive. Hell, I didn’t own an iPod at this point in my life – I would get one the following Christmas and proceed to max it out within the first hour I had it and still I had zero clue of their existence. It wasn’t until 2007 that I had finally managed to catch wind of ‘Juturna,’ from my best friend who was obsessing over ‘On Letting Go’ that was just released. As an avid alternative music fan even in my 7th-grade days, he was dumbfounded of my ignorance of Circa Survive. I went to Best Buy and bought both CDs immediately and did not stop listening to either of them for months. But I was mesmerized by the wistful and slightly off-kilter nature of ‘Juturna.’ It was so appealing and so different, something truly original that I couldn’t stop listening. Since that year, it has consistently been included in my favorite albums of all time (I couldn’t possibly number them 1 to 10, so please don’t ask!).
Now imagine my excitement when an announcement of a ten-year anniversary tour for a certain album came about. I frantically grabbed my ticket during work and proceeded through my day feeling so ready and so thankful to finally witness Circa Survive live in concert. And to see ‘Juturna?’ I was in heaven, my expectations could not be exceeded. There was nothing stopping me. That is until the band came out with the soft synth intro leading into “Holding Someone’s Hair Back.” Almost immediately, all of my preconceived notions went astray. I was there. I was listening to Anthony Green’s voice, hearing Brendan and Colin’s wistful guitar riffs, being reminded of Nick and Steve’s constant ability to anchor the band in beautiful harmony. And this was barely one song in. There was a moment during “Act Appalled” where the crowd completely took over the song – right before the last chorus – (I’m only asking if you remember, remember), that everything felt so connected and perfect; there was no worry to be found. Anthony was beaming and so thankful and humbled by the crowd, “Boston, every show always feels like a hometown show. I remember when [House of Blues] used to be called the Avalon and first playing here, and you’ve always made us feel welcome.”
Every song was calculated meticulously and each song was supplemented by new licks along with Anthony’s signature shrieks, accompanied by a brilliant vocal delay effect of course. This performance felt special, and not just a 10-year kind of special, but it held a higher meaning for the crowd and the band. Anthony, visibly impressed, stated: “So many feels. So, so many feels.” For an album as amazing and diverse as ‘Juturna,’ it was impressive enough that the band was playing it in its entirety (likely the first time they’ve done so). The waining intro of “In Fear and Faith” featured Colin and Brendan slowly building and deconstructing simultaneously, until a singular rhythmic guitar ushered in one of their most emotionally dense but soothing songs. Probably the most impressive feature was the light show, a spectacle ever enhanced by a barrage of balloon balls filled with glow sticks shot out prior to “Stop the Fucking Car” and an explosion of confetti in front of intense white lights, adding to the nature of the short but amazing “Oh, Hello.” Not only are Circa Survive extremely talented musicians, they know how to put on a memorable live performance.
In the course of the evening I was moved by what I had witnessed, a live show that far exceeded my humble expectations. Being able to finally see a band I had so pined for years was truly wonderful, but the fact that it was ‘Juturna’ I was seeing made it a thing of pure beauty. Armed with a crowd that was more than willing to help participate in singing along, Anthony came out for the closer “Meet Me in Montauk,” and it was a special one. A moment I will forever hold dear; something I will associate my experience with Circa Survive always. The added encores of “Suspending Disbelief,” “Handshakes at Sunrise,” and “House of Leaves” were just more affirmation that I was a part of something bigger than life for a moment. For almost an hour of my life I was among some of the best fans in the world, all sharing in the experience of ‘Juturna.’ This was by far the best concert I’ve been to in a while. Thank you so much Circa Survive and congrats on the 10-year anniversary!
Roam the Room
The Night I Drove Alone
Holding Someone’s Hair Back
The Glorious Nosebleed
In Fear and Faith
The Great Golden Baby
Stop the Fucking Car
We’re All Thieves
Always Getting What You Want
Meet Me in Montauk
Handshakes at Sunrise
House of Leaves