Words by Brian Salvatore | Photos by Nick Karp
On Friday night at Irving Plaza, there was a lineup full of bands that might be categorized as ‘emo’ in the parlance of 2016. Pinegrove, the Sidekicks, the World is a Beautiful Place and I am No Longer Afraid to Die, and Into It. Over It. were about two-thirds through their tour when they pulled into New York City, which was a bit of a hometown gig for openers Pinegrove. The Montclair, NJ-based band mix some classic country rock feel with an indie rock sound, and the band had the crowd instantly at attention. The heartfelt songs – a theme of the night – were played both intricately and emotionally, and their brief 30 minute set flew by. The crowd was packed in tight as soon as the band stopped, a rarity on a four band bill.
Next up was the Sidekicks, a band that, both on their t-shirt and from the mouth of Into It. Over It. frontman Evan Weiss, is proclaimed as ‘the greatest rock and roll band in America.’’ Those are strong words, but their live show did little to disprove that notion. The band plays hook-laden power pop that borders on mall punk, but don’t take that as a bad thing. Their energy was infectious, and each song ratcheted up the crowd, until the set closing “People Who Died,” where frontman Steve Ciolek dropped his guitar and fully embraced the Jim Carroll tune’s intensity and power.
It would have been hard for any band to follow what Sidekicks left on the stage, but it was especially difficult for the eight-member The World is a Beautiful Place and I am No Longer Afraid to Die. While the other bands would bash out song after song, TWIABP was content to do long, droning introductions to their songs which skitter and stop and have rousing moments of singing along, followed by long periods of introspection. Their set never got into a rhythm, and you could clearly differentiate between the folks that were there for them, versus the folks that showed up for the other bands. The TWIABP fans were eating it up – swaying with every big, throbbing chord change, passionately shouting along and relishing in the band’s intensity. But around the fringes of the club, you could see people disengaged, checking their phones and seeming, well, bored.
I can’t say I blame them – I am familiar with the band’s’ catalog, but most familiar with Harmlessness, their most recent record. For the songs I recognized, I was able to really enjoy the performance, and get lost in the song. But for the unfamiliar tunes, I found that sometimes the almost metal-like electric guitars and loopy tempos found me unengaged and looking forward to Into It. Over It. taking the stage.
Into It. Over It. provided the most traditionally ‘emo’ set of the night, with songs that had the audience singing along, swaying along, or trying not to do one or the other. Weiss has become quite the frontman, and engaged with the audience nicely, while controlling the stage from behind his Telecaster and microphone. Their set flew by, with song after song getting the crowd more and more invested, until the entire room was seemingly one mass, euphorically sharing the largest show of Into It. Over It.’s career.
TheWaster.com | NYC