Review: Converge at the Marquis, 12/8/11

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When Converge played the opening strains of "Worms Will Feed/Rats Will Feast" last night, the place erupted, with almost everybody taking part in a massive sing-a-long, singing like the lyrics were part of their DNA, while others climbed onto the stage and launched themselves into crowd. When the band sang "Built castle walls with blood and bone" and Nate Newton held his bass aloft like a barbarian chieftain victorious on the battlefield, it was like witnessing something mythic.

There's something about Converge that makes everyone lose their minds. If you were up front, you got crushed against the stage, but not in the same way as you might at, say, a High on Fire show. But this did nothing to disrupt Jacob Bannon and company, particularly Bannon, who held his mike out to more intrepid members of the crowd who all knew the words. When Converge was fully engaged it was a non-stop assault with some moments of heightened tension before a blistering release of sound and emotion.

Musically, what was truly striking about seeing Converge last night -- and this was also in part due to an attentive sound person -- was the great separation in sound. Bannon's vocals were clear as day when he barked/growled the words. The band's sound is akin to death metal in terms of precision and fearlessness and the use of noise and micro-feedback, and there's also elements of punk and grindcore to be heard.

Mostly, though, Converge is a brutal, heavy act with some imagination and intelligence behind the songwriting. None of the songs are even seemingly the same flavor or mood. The chords are held before bringing them crashing down at the right moment, and the group makes great use of space in the music, which puts it in the realm of heavy post-punk, but the outfit's music is not the kind of thing that sits easily in any box.

At one point during the set, which ended with "The Broken Vow," we heard "Runaway," a highlight of the evening. Jacob Bannon prowled the stage the whole night with dramatic gestures, arms cast wide, coming to the front of the stage to be with the crowd, crouched down, bent over with the intense emotions coursing through him. And for roughly the whole hour of the show, none of the four guys on stage relented except during the short breaks between songs. The pause between set and encore didn't last long and the band came back on and treated us to "Drop Out" and "Last Light." One the songs from Git Some's set was so thick and borderline scary it was like the musical equivalent of a rogue elephant on the rampage. Luke Fairchild, of course, was in high form doing his signature arms akimbo dance in time with the sinuous rhythms, and at one point in the show, he outright fell over with the sheer force of emotional weight behind his vocals. Overall, it was probably the best Git Some show I've seen because it was obvious that Git Some has been doing some work on creating a richer sound overall without losing the cathartic appeal of its impassioned performances. Glass Hits opened the show, and the first words out of Keith Curts's mouth were "Your lack of planning is not my emergency." Which is, of course, the title of the last song on the group's excellent 2011 album, Pioneers Get The Arrows, Settlers Get the Land. Curts moved like a marionette, his legs and arms seemingly not fully in his conscious control. The cutting buzzsaw of guitar and the sharp stop and start dynamics the band employed gave it an amplified sense of eruptive emotions the five guys seemed to need to blast out with a wiry energy carried on hanging beats and jagged riffs.


Personal Bias: Fan of all three bands tonight. Random Detail: Ran into Jacob Archuleta of Skully Mammoth and Nick Salmon of Glass Homes at the show. Someone had broken Jacob's glasses during the Converge set. By the Way: Jacob Bannon is as down to earth and as nice in person as he is on the phone.

More Photos: Converge at the Marquis

Interview: Jacob Bannon on the accessibility of Converge's music: "We're not made for first-level listeners"

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