Solar Bear began the onslaught at around 8:30, and for the rest of the evening the only respite to be found was between sets. The three bands are demonstrably different in important ways, especially on record, but live, the whole show went something like this: Guitars were alarms, ringing high clear tones. The drums, they're artillery in this type of post-hardcore music: relentless and crashing on heavy downbeats. And the bass brought looming dread, and the vocal was depravity and panic and bile. As a whole, this stuff comes across as a malignant swarm, a grinning, drooling, emaciated, flesh-tearing creature. Which is sort of weird because the members of these bands are largely supremely normal looking dudes with downright gentlemanly demeanors between songs.
Solar Bear write punk rock compositions, which seems a lot like an oxymoron. Their music is full of complicated time signatures and tightly woven parts. They have a sort of lilting mania to their demeanor, and there's just a tiny bit of space in the music. This made them the easiest band of the night to actually enjoy, and while no one in there could have discerned what Marcus Tallitsch was screaming about, I get the sense that they're smarter than the average bear.
My Body Sings Electric followed. They have the weirdest dance move, where three of the members will do this circular bob, rolling from the hips and neck, and without realizing this, they'll be in unison. Their music is one long climax. It's a dying man's final moments, over and over and over, dragged on, ripped and bleeding and theatrical and boring as shit. My mind shut down after a while, but the kids kissing at the front seemed to dig it. Sounds like emo with more complicated musicianship to me.
This was Fear Before's welcome home show from a month-long tour in Canada. Later this month, they'll head off to Australia. Here, they had a fair contingent of people who knew all the words, and while I found them to be only slightly less numbing than My Body Sings Electric, I can understand why they've stuck around so long. There are some surprising vocal turns to be found, croaks to accompany the moans. Still, mostly they drop a wall of black notes on everyone.
As a side note, this band has a song called "Fear Before Doesn't Listen To People Who Don't Like Them," but only a band who actually does listen to people who don't like them would bother to make that kind of statement.
The set ended and they grabbed the fake tree set pieces off the stage and there was a few chaotic minutes of dancing/moshing that followed. Nothing too extensive. We wouldn't want this thing to drag on too long -- it's already 11:10, and there's school tomorrow.
CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal Bias: I prefer singers that don't scream constantly. By the Way: Solar Bear is now a quartet. Random Detail: These bands all have a ridiculous amount of merch.