Pianos Become The Teeth by Chris DePastene / Sick Snaps
May 8 saw Pianos Become The Teeth, The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid To Die, and Queen of Jeans playing in Portland at Holocene in support of Pianos’ latest album, Wait for Love.
I unfortunately missed Queen of Jeans’ set, but you can check out Chris’ photos of them below.
TWIABP took the stage as a six piece band, making this the second time the band toured with this group of musicians, after the departure of guitarist Dylan Balliett last year. The band launched into familiar territory from the last time I saw them, opening with “I’ll Make Everything” off Always Foreign. The band, while tight, sounded a little deflated, either from the grinding of touring or maybe it just being an off day, but in launching into “Dillon and Her Son” something just felt a little off. The show continued with the band working its way through a similar collection of songs that they had played last time they were here, from “Be Neon With Me” off the Josh Is Dead tape to “Heartbeat in the Brain” off of Whenever, If Ever, before ending in a massive crescendo. The band made the most out of the backdrop/lighting rig of the venue, even going as far as to use a fog machine during the ending crescendo. While the band was technically tight and together, the performance felt a little stale due to a lack of variety in the set list which I can only assume is a result of these being a collection of songs that operates most efficiently within the confines of a six piece band, whereas in the studio albums they utilize many guest musicians and use a lot more layers in the mix. There is something to be said about a safe set list, however. For the returning listener, it may be a little less than inspiring which is a shame considering the prolific nature of this band.
The last band of the night was Pianos Become The Teeth. The last time I had seen Pianos was in 2014, prior to them making their transition away from being a post-rock-inspired screamo act to being an outright post-rock band, so I was quite excited to hear their evolved sound in a live setting as their prior performances were highly emotional and cathartic. The set began with the album single off of Wait for Love. “Charisma,” a driving upbeat number, musically explores the space between punk-rock and post-rock in a very fitting manner that doesn’t sound out of place as most upbeat songs land on slow-burning setlists. They switched things up a little bit and followed with the song “Hiding” off of their split with Touché Amore which was rather exciting as this was the first glimpse into their evolution I had when they released that track back in 2013. I had never had an opportunity to hear the song live and it was very satisfying seeing how they had fleshed out their original idea. The band played a strong and balanced collection of songs off their new album like “Fake Lightning” and my personal favorite “Manila,” and also peppered in a collection of songs from their last album Keep You, such as “Ripple Water Shine,” “Repine.” They ended their set with the highly emotional track, “Say Nothing,” which found the crowd at its most reverent as you could hear people breaking down in different pockets of the room while they quietly sang along.
After the show I stepped outside to catch my thoughts and possibly gather insight into the feelings other show goers were having and ended up talking with an acquaintance over how impactful that performance was and how it spoke truth to the emotions of loss, grief and the peace one can find in the middle of all of it and how the band was able to communicate all that in a way that transcends song structure or even conversation, I would be inclined to agree.