Circa Survive by Chris Rosonina / Sick Snaps
On the heels of releasing yet another transcendent album in 2017, Circa Survive returned with a true headline tour last month with modern day emo gods, Foxing, and post-hardcore/Circa Survive’s long-lost child, Hail the Sun. Circa Survive had a fantastic co-headline run with Thrice in the fall, but it was nice to have the band do a full proper tour in support of The Amulet.
When the tour was announced, I claimed it was an early candidate for tour of the year – and the show did not disappoint. Strange enough, for an opening night of a tour, the gig wasn’t even close to selling out – the balcony was hardly utilized – and people could comfortably move about the venue throughout the evening.
This was my first time checking out a gig at the Strand – formerly Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel – in Providence, RI, and I was blown away with how elegant the venue is – expansive balcony area, gorgeous ceiling artwork, and spacious areas with no terrible views of the stage. Perhaps too large a venue for the gig, but certainly a very cool environment to experience this lineup without the claustrophobic nature of most venues.
Hail the Sun opened the evening with a slew of songs spread across their various releases – including a few sprinkled from its brilliant 2016 LP, Culture Scars, its debut LP, Wake, and the surprise 2017 EP, Secret Wars. Frontman, Donovan Melero, is one of the most entertaining and energizing forces in the scene today – he is consummate performer, someone who truly gives his all to the crowd without compromising his vocal performance.
I constantly tell people that Hail the Sun is the best new band in the post-hardcore realm and I stand behind that – especially after having seen the band live a few times now, I cannot believe the sheer dominance it has accomplished in such a short period of time. Culture Scars truly felt like a melding of Saosin’s early work with mid-career Circa Survive – which, to me, is an ideal balance to strike. If you haven’t seen the band yet, make sure you do so.
Next up was Foxing, a band that has taken a bit of time away while working on its upcoming, highly anticipated third LP that has many new wave emo fans chomping at the bit. The band shared three new songs during its 45-minute set – including a number of the classics the band has already released (“Rory,” “Inuit,” “Night Channels,” and “The Medic”). I don’t think I will ever get tired of hearing any of those songs live.
Vocalist, Conor Murphy, is known for busting out his trumpet – moments that always elicit members of the audience to pull out their phones to snap a picture. With the new songs, Murphy and Co. have developed a sound that expands beyond emo – encompassing elements of post-rock and indie-pop to create a new image of a band that clearly does not want to be pinned down by labels. So, mark me curious of what is to come from the band in the hopefully very near future.
This was my 19th time attending a Circa Survive gig since 2006, so yes – I’m very comfortable watching one of the most influential bands in the history of the post-hardcore genre. It was heartwarming to hear both Melero of Hail the Sun and Murphy of Foxing share their experiences growing up listening to Circa and how much it meant to each band that they were even on the tour. Since it was the first night, it was clear how stoked the bands were to embark on a full US tour supporting one of their favorite bands.
Circa powered through a massive setlist that hit on most of the band’s career – focusing especially on newer tracks from The Amulet – since it was the focal point of the tour, obviously. On the fall Thrice tour, it was clear Circa was still working out how to present some of the new songs life. Having now spent many months with these songs, it was such a blast to experience a more focused approach to playing the songs in front of an audience.
Anthony Green slinked around the stage with his trademark playfulness and sensuality unmatched by any other bandleaders today – and on a tour that featured two other fantastic frontmen, two frontmen that are, in their own right, constructing themselves as the next generation ready to carry the flame moving forward. That isn’t to say that Circa is fading away – quite the opposite – if anything, it demonstrates the clarity with which Circa is paying attention to which bands are crushing it today while using its platform to uplift these acts.
Circa Survive is a band that I have spent a lot of time with over the years, and whenever I see the band perform, I’m reminded of how much its music has impacted such a large swath of people across the world. I’m reminded of the how much music can heal whatever we are dealing with – seeing as right before this gig, I had been traveling all week, and to unwind, I chose to see three of my favorite bands dominate in a spacious room that made me feel at home over 3,000 miles away from Oregon.
All photos by Chris Rosonina: Instagram