Last week, I had the opportunity to photograph Thrice in New York on their first full tour since their reunion. Opening on the show were Gates and La Dispute. You can find the full gallery below, as well as some brief thoughts on the experience.
If you asked me to list off 3-5 bands I believed would be perfect to open a Thrice show in 2016, both La Dispute and Gates would 100% make that list. That’s why I have been calling this Thrice reunion tour the tour of the year since the moment it was announced.
Gates seems to be following in many ways in Thrice’s footsteps, though admittedly taking things more in a post-rock direction than Thrice ever have. What I mean is Gates, especially on their newest record Parallel Lives, recognize the things they do really well at any particular moment and draw upon and accentuate that to the most significant degree. Right now, they are one of the best and spacious arrangements, and their live set showcases that fully, allowing songs the necessary room to breathe.
La Dispute, meanwhile, were refreshingly breathless in comparison. They ripped through a 9-song set, vocalist Jordan Dreyer stopping just long enough to thank the other bands on the bill before pinwheeling through another 2 or 3 songs. His vocal delivery is a bit more ragged and staccato live, perhaps a symptom of having to get a lot of words out while spinning around like he’s playing a deranged game of dizzy bat, but that is part of his charm and captivating stage presence. The band, meanwhile, remains just as affecting as ever, as songs like “Stay Happy There” and “Woman (Reading)” hit home even more dramatically set against the ominous setting of the band’s gloomy backlit lighting, while King Park elicited one of the loudest crowd moments of the night.
Thrice has long been one of the best live bands to come out of the scene in a long time, as dynamic performances and live arrangements are both second-to-none, but even more importantly they are probably the most tight live band I have ever witnessed. I don’t think it’s fair to say they sound “just like the record” because that would be discounting some of the unique live arrangements (like “Wood And Wire” and “Beggars” on this tour), but they certainly don’t sound like a band who took 3+ years off from touring full time.
The thing that struck me most about the show is how quickly it seems fans have welcomed in the band’s newest album, To Be Everywhere is To Be Nowhere, into their hearts, and even more specifically their vocal cords. The two loudest sing-alongs of the night outside of fan-favorite “The Artist In The Ambulance” came from TBEITBN standouts “Black Honey” and “The Long Defeat.” The band even extended out the outtro to “The Long Defeat” prompting an almost religious call-and-response between the crowd and vocalist Dustin Kensrue.
I’m still in awe, over a week later, about how good Thrice’s performance was on this tour. I think this reunion, many years down the line, will be looked back on as the gold standard for band reunions. Really it’s so easy to coast off your past successes, or to come back to claim the glory that had always eluded you in the past, but the ability to synthesize both so effortlessly and successfully? Thrice deserves every bit of credit they will be lauded with.