Wrapping up the first half of their fall US tour in support of the September 2018 release ‘Palms,’ post-hardcore group Thrice stopped by Marathon Music Works on a rainy Sunday night in Nashville for an evening of melody, angst and, most importantly, rock. In support for this tour which starts up again on Nov. 2nd in San Francisco are label mates Teenage Wrist and Los Angeles punk rockers The Bronx.
After going on an extended hiatus in 2012, Thrice returned triumphantly in 2016 with their ninth studio album ‘To Be Everywhere is to Be Nowhere,’ which spawned radio hits such as “Black Honey” and “Hurricane.” Now, two years later, the band is back again with their latest release, ‘Palms,’ an album that contains some of their most diverse songs to date and which debuted atop Billboard’s Alternative Albums and Hard Rock Albums charts. The first single, “The Grey,” was, at the time of writing this review, number 16 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs.
Opening for this tour was fellow Epitaph Records recording artists Teenage Wrist, an alt rock band based out of Los Angeles. Out in support of their March 2018 debut EP, ‘Chrome Neon Jesus,’ Teenage Wrist’s sound harkens back to a day when MTV actually played videos and you’d be apt to see Matt Pinfield introduce these guys following a late night episode of Aeon Flux. After vocalist and bass player Kamtin Mohager stepped to the mic and proclaimed, “its rock n’ roll baby, just rock n’ roll,” the band dove right into “Daylight,” the first of seven songs off their debut album. The first band that popped into my mind upon hearing them play was mid-90s shoegazers Hum, popular for their 1995 radio hit “Stars.” Throughout songs like “Dweeb,” “Swallow,” and “Waitress,” Mohager and guitarist Marshall Gallagher traded vocal duties with drummer Anthony Salazar sprinkling in lines while doing his best Nirvana-era Dave Grohl impersonation complete with the signature hair flip. The still growing crowd was feeling the nostalgia and appreciated the melancholy post grunge vibe. Teenage Wrist ended their night with their biggest streaming hit “Stoned, Alone.” If you’re like me, whose musical tastes were formed in the late 80s to mid 90s, you’ll find something familiar and soothing about Teenage Wrist’s distorted guitar driven sound and well-written airy hooks. ‘Chrome Neon Jesus’ is currently streaming on your favorite service and Teenage Wrist will be back out with Thrice once the tour resumes in November.
“Aw yeah! Nashville, make some noise! Let’s go! Yeah, it’s good to be back in town. It’s the last night of the first leg of this tour. So the burden is on both crowd and band to live it up to the max, ladies and gentlemen. Let’s see some action Nashville. We’re The Bronx from Los Angeles, let’s go!” With those words the energy in the building flipped on like a switch. A stark contrast to Teenage Wrist’s angsty, mid-tempo 90s shoegaze emo, The Bronx brought the balls to the wall rock to the party. Fast, gritty, and straight to the point, The Bronx powered through “The Unholy Hand,” “Sore Throat,” and “Stranger Danger” rather quickly with Matt Caughthran taking a chance between each song to encourage the crowd to get loud and break loose in his distinct gravelly voice. Driven by the relentless groove of drumming powerhouse Joey Castillo and bassist Brad Magers and anchored to each side by guitarists Joby Ford and Ken Horne, The Bronx delivered a rock n’ roll clinic with punk rock power and sleazy rock attitude. Even the hippest of the hipsters uncrossed their arms and moved their hips to fast paced favorites “Heart Attack American” and “Knifeman,” with frontman Caughthran at one point jumping off stage to whip up a frenzied pit all the while managing to hang on to his mic and deliver lyric after lyric. Before wrapping up their blistering 11 song set with “History’s Stranglers,” Caughthran took a moment to thank the crowd, proclaiming “We love ya! It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to play music for you tonight!” He then dedicated the last song to the grim reaper, which was ironic because The Bronx killed it tonight! Like Teenage Wrist, The Bronx will be back for leg two of the tour in November.
It had been over two years since veteran post-hardcore rockers Thrice visited Nashville (and based on my limited research it was eight years prior to that) and a little rain and chilly October weather didn’t stop fans from getting out to see the band in support of their new record, ‘Palms.’ The band wasted no time in giving the crowd a taste of the new album as they opened with “Only Us,” a track that sounds like it was written to open a show. With its intensifying synth intro and Dustin Kensrue’s soulful raspy voice leading into an overdriven bass riff and tom beat from the brothers Breckenridge, “Only Us” sets the stage for setlist that was sure to please fans both old and new as they touched on almost all of their ten album career. Though a nightmare to photograph, the lighting and stage guys really helped complement the mood with a constant flow of smoke and dark blue and red lights backlighting the band early in the set. Only once during a quick verse was Kensrue clearly visible via a spotlight through the first three songs which also included longtime fan favorites “Image of the Invisible” and “The Artist in the Ambulance.” “Thanks so much, we’re Thrice,” Kensrue said before the band pivoted right into the pounding “Hurricane” off of 2016’s ‘To Be Everywhere is to Be Nowhere’ and then onto another new track, “A Branch in the River.” As Thrice meandered through their early upbeat post-hardcore tunes to their newer more dynamic and atmospheric songs, the lighting was always cohesive with the ambiance. From flashing and bright to somber and dark, Thrice really brought a great aural and visual experience on this tour not to mention a well-crafted setlist. The middle of the set, with songs like “Black Honey,” new song “The Grey,” “Anthology,” “In Exile,” and “Beggars,” really provided a chance for both the band and audience to breath and led to many of the night’s sing-a-longs, my favorite of which occurred during “The Dark” with Kensrue on guitar and Teppei Teranishi on piano while the crowd chanted the haunting chorus, “And we’re not gonna sit in the dark anymore. No we’re not gonna sit in the dark anymore.” By night’s end, Thrice had mesmerized Marathon Music Works with a total of 21 songs, six off of their latest album, and or course finishing with the always requested “Deadbolt” and the genre-defining “To Awake and Avenge the Dead.”
Thrice, The Bronx, and Teenage Wrist fire up the buses again on Nov. 2nd in San Francisco for 13 more US dates before heading to Australia in February 2019. Like The Bronx frontman Matt Caughthran said during their set, “Music is a beautiful thing!” so make sure to check this tour out if they hit a city near you.