Going to college right outside of Austin, Texas spoiled me. Essentially every tour I wanted to see came through the city and I was able to go to a ridiculous number of shows. I always knew that it was a great advantage, but I didn’t truly appreciate what I had there until I moved across the country to North Carolina a few months ago. Now, only a handful of those tours make it here. But while I’m still learning to cope with being so far away from the live music capitol of the world, the one positive that has come out of it is that when a band I love does come to town, it’s a special occurrence. Cue my excitement upon hearing the news that Title Fight would be making a stop in Charlotte along with Pianos Become The Teeth and Circa Survive.
The last time I saw Title Fight, it was at a free show during Fun Fun Fun Nites 2013. They played in a tiny bar packed to the brim with fans who waited patiently in the freezing cold to get admittance in and shredded their throats screaming every word at the top of their lungs. I felt that it was the most ideal place to see that band do what they do, so I was certainly interested to see how that would translate opening for another band’s fans in a much larger venue.
The first thing I noticed upon arrival at Amo’s Southend was the strange setup. The stage was flanked on each side by a large pole, which, combined with the stacked-up equipment on the side, made it nearly impossible to see anything if you weren’t straight ahead of the stage. That’s not the best for a short person like me, as the venue was pretty full by the time I got in, but in the end you’re there for the music, so I made the best of it.
Pianos Become The Teeth, fresh off the release of their triumphed new record Keep You, took the stage first and put on a solid performance to an uninterested crowd. The band is obviously touring in support of that album, but I was still surprised at just how much of their set was filled with those songs, as the only older tracks they played were “I’ll Get By” and their set-closer “Hiding”. I understand the choices, but it just seems that a song like “I’ll Be Damned” would be a more effective way of engaging what was a pretty dead crowd. But nevertheless, the new songs translated incredibly live, ebbing and flowing beautifully just as they do on the record. The band seemed like a reenergized and reignited version of the band that I have seen multiple times before. They are definitely heading in the right direction with their sound, and their live performance exemplified that excellently.
Next up was my main event: Title Fight. The band wasted no time getting right into the swing of things, starting with “Secret Society” straight into “Numb, But I Still Feel It”, getting the crowd involved immediately. Much like Pianos, the majority of the crowd seemed fairly apathetic to Title Fight. But the fans that were there were there in full force, and that energy, along with the bands high-octane style, certainly seemed to rope in a fair share of new listeners.
The band’s set ranged the full spectrum of what Title Fight has to offer, pulling songs from across their eclectic discography, but Floral Green was the most heavily drawn. In fact, aside from live staples “27”, “Shed”, and “Symmetry”, only one other song from the bands’ first two records was featured. This decision put Title Fight’s post-hardcore/emo/shoegaze leanings on showcase, and they certainly didn’t disappoint. Tracks like “Make You Cry” and “In-Between” proved firsthand why the band is head and shoulders above the pop-punk scene they inevitably get lumped into. While I would have enjoyed hearing some older, faster cuts such as “Loud And Clear” or “Flood Of ‘72”, it’s hard to argue against the fact that Floral Green is the band’s most impressive effort to date.
Given those choices in the setlist, as well as the sound of new single “Chlorine”, which hooked me even more when performed live, I would be willing to guess that the band’s next record will be an even further step away from the pop-punk stylings. As the band finished the set off with the simmering “Head In The Ceiling Fan”, I found myself more and more convinced that Title Fight is doing the most interesting things in this scene, and I can only hope that Hyperview will be the album that pushes them into the stardom they deserve.
The one complaint I have heard regarding Title Fight’s live show is vocalist/bassist Ned Russin’s performance. It’s true, the guy is all over the place and only manages to sing into the microphone about half the time, but I have always found that as one of the more endearing aspects of their show. It definitely doesn’t come across great in a bigger style venue like that, in front of a crowd of which only a small fraction is familiar with you, but it is tailor-made for the cramped venues the band came up through. In that tiny bar show I saw them at a year ago, Russin employed the same delivery, but when you’re playing to a crowd of people literally jumping through the ceiling and screaming every word along with you, it works. That is Title Fight in their element. I don’t expect them to change their style as they get bigger, but rather I expect that the crowds will grow along with them. Soon enough, Title Fight will be back in that same venue, with the entire crowd on their back.
My main interest in the show was for the two openers, for as much as I love Circa Survive’s music, it has been my experience that they seem to draw the most obnoxious crowds. I don’t know what it is, but it always seems to be a caustic mix of older punks and young fanboys, and they never seem to mix well. My theory was proven right, as I witnessed no less than five altercations just surrounding me. But regardless, Circa Survive is great, and it was only a three-band bill, so I decided to stick around. Speaking of, three-band shows are the best. I really don’t need to see two hours of awful local metalcore or pop-punk bands before who I really want to see. All shows need to be three bands. Come on, Barack. I know you read my stuff. Let’s do something about this.
Anyway, Circa Survive came out and put on a predictably spectacular show. The setlist was littered with songs that spanned the bands impressive discography, but I was most drawn to the Violent Waves cuts. As a record that has yet to really hook me, those songs translated incredibly well live, and have convinced me to revisit the album. Another note is that “Schema”, the single off of the recently released Descensus, absolutely rips live. That song specifically showcases everything that Anthony Green brings to the table, a blend of aggression and melody. Adding to that, Green continues to be one of the strongest singers and all-round performers I have ever had the privilege of seeing. I will never not be in awe of how he pulls off some of those vocals. Overall, Circa Survive once again cemented themselves as one of the premier bands out there right now.
Top to bottom, this tour showcased some of the most impressive bands that this scene has to offer. Pianos Become The Teeth, coming off a huge stylistic shift, will only continue to find their footing in that sound, while Title Fight will continue to push the boundaries of what is expected of them. In fact, I wouldn’t put it out of the realm of possibility for Title Fight to soon be occupying the same space as the juggernaut that is Circa Survive, who showed tonight exactly why they should be regarded as one of the best.