In late 2013, Underoath announced to the dismay of their devoted fan base, that they were disbanding and embarking on a 12-date farewell tour. I remember being at the Union Transfer show in Philadelphia like it was yesterday. Sold out and packed to farthest wall, with many fans decked out in Underoath merchandise that they obtained over the years. There, I listened to the band perform many songs from some of my favorite albums like Define The Great Line and Lost in the Sound of Separation. Some of these songs helped get me through a lot of hard times and at the core of the band, that’s what they were all about.
It’s almost poetic justice that the musical documentary named Tired Violence came to it’s inception due to fan donations in a campaign to finish the film. There’s a lot in a title and that would certainly describe the state of Underoath throughout their final tour. The film is inter cut with pieces of concert footage from their final run that may seem “violent” in the passionate style that this band plays. When you live at the constant energetic peak, it wears on you after time. Then there’s the crowd surfing by vocalist Spencer Chamberlain, which, when mixed with low light and fury gives the sense of tired as well. After the release of They’re Only Chasing Safety, the album that started the band’s descent at the top of the metalcore world and was born out of rebellion, there was non-stop touring and commitments. Producer Matt Goldman, who worked with Underoath, wonders in the film how a band can tour so much and survive. Keyboardist Chris Dudley recalled a story by an older band where they eluded to missing the most important moments in their children’s lives due to being in an active band.
I would not call this a break up documentary, even though many fans watching it may get nostalgic and sad. Tired Violence is very honest and artistic at it’s core. There’s an exchange between guitarist Tim McTague and Chamberlain where they are discussing how family fits within art and music, and there’s a symbolic depiction of a man with ropes dragging instruments with him through rubble. At what point does music conflict with love and parenthood? People are constantly evolving and want different things. Here, we get to see a snapshot on how that shapes a band and pulls the members in a different direction.
The film also touches on the band’s status as a Christian band and the difficulties that are incurred with that moniker. Fans may judge you a certain way if actions or songs are perceived non-Christian like. It is only where the band decides to shed the title when they realize their full potential. Not to say that they lost their inner connections with their faith along the way. Underoath became a band without boundaries because defining yourself puts you in a restricting box. It’s almost like the story was meant to finish this way (even though watching, you get the sense there is more Underoath to be had down the line).
Tired Violence is the explanation I wanted with one of my favorite bands disbanding. I couldn’t believe it reading a print interview. I had to see it for myself, so I’m thankful that this film came into fruition. Will Underoath be back? There have been some inklings in recent interviews where members stated that they would not be opposed to a reunion down the road. Right now, as demonstrated in the last frames of the documentary with slowed down footage of the band’s last show, the “violence” will always remain. It’s the tired that needs to recover and repair itself to be new again.