New Haven, CT
12 December 2008
When you think of Ivy League universities, you don’t automatically think of rock and roll. In fact, the last thing you probably think of is a bunch of dudes from Long Island and New Brunswick, New Jersey showing up to wreak havoc on your finals week. That is exactly what happened; it worked. It’s not really that much of a surprise considering Toad’s Place in New Haven, Connecticut is home to one of the most influential hardcore bands of the 90s, Hatebreed. That being said…
The Sleeping are one of the best live bands out of Long Island today. The band, fronted by Doug Robinson, are more accustomed to playing basements, VFW halls, and small intimate venues, so when presented with Toadies 800 capacity room, Robinson made the most of the lack of barricade. Robinson leapt across the stage and tried to make the room seem as tiny as possible. From the opening notes of The Climb, the crowd swelled and surged towards the stage, each person trying to sing a line or two into the oft outstretched microphone. Robinson was off stage and in the crowd as often as he was on it. Most certainly, the two highlights of their set were the two new songs that they previewed off their new record and If Your Heart Was Broken, You Would Be Dead. The two new songs, one of which simply titled “Bomb” and the other as of yet untitled, turned the crowd into a swirling mass of bodies and limbs. Truth be told, If Your Heart Was Broken… was more or less started by the audience. After Dearest Mistake, a small pocket of people started chanting the intro to the song. Mob mentality kicked in and before long, the band began to play along with the crowd. An interesting reversal in roles, which is not often seen in situations like these, dictated the direction of the rest of their set. The energy from The Climb continued through to the closing notes of Don’t Hold Back without a lull.
Loud and Clear
Bomb / New Song
If Your Heart Was Broken, You Would Be Dead
Don’t Hold Back
Every year, it has become tradition to have an annual holiday extravaganza in Thursday’s home state of New Jersey. This year, however, they chose not to have one, so they treated this show like their holiday party. Fresh off tour with Rise Against, the band was full of energy. Perhaps it is because they are more comfortable playing small venues instead of 5,000 capacity arenas. Perhaps it is because they were just super excited to be playing in Connecticut again. Either way, they played with an energy and enthusiasm that I haven’t seen since their show last New Year’s Eve. After eleven years together, it was refreshing to see them back to their old selves. Everyone looked like they wanted to be there and that they wanted to play. That’s a rare thing in a business fuelled by money and doing things because you are contractually obligated to. Then again, when have Thursday ever done something because they had to?
Before the band even took the stage, though, people were pressed up against the stage. You could feel the energy in the room shift forward as Tucker began to set his drums up. As soon as he was finished and the houselights went down, you could tell that you were going to be in for something special. Opening with At This Velocity, the band took things at their own pace, doing things their own way. Insistent on changing things up, they took songs from each of their releases. They played older songs differently and they sounded as fresh as the songs from Common Existence. Geoff, like Robinson before him, took full advantage of the lack of barricade. He jumped into the crowd, stood atop of the crowd, and was intermixed with the crowd as much as he possibly could. At one point in the set, security fished him out of the masses and attempted to throw him out before they realised that he was part of the band and not a rabble-rouser.
The variety in the set was definitely a testament to their talent. Most bands stick to what they are comfortable with. Thursday, however, played what they wanted. A little bit of Full Collapse, a little bit of War All the Time, some new songs and even a song from the split thrown in for good measure. Showcasing a total of three new songs, two from their new record and one from their flawless split with Japan’s Envy, the band remained at the top of their game all night. Even during Resuscitation of a Dead Man, which had been released on their myspace just days before, the crowd was in full voice. For a band to have a crowd sing along to a song that they JUST released surely has to be a testament to their talent. Personally, the highlight of the show was Standing on the Edge of Summer, a song that is not often played. You could feel a sense of disbelief when Geoff announced the song and then feel a sense of excitement when they began to play. The most inspiring part of the whole song as noticing a kid in the front row, eyes glued to Geoff singing back every word like it was the last thing he was ever going to do. That kid personified the energy that was prevalent throughout the entire room, even during As he Climbed the Dark Mountain, a lush and orchestral song from the Envy split. It was wonderful to see how a song this intricate played out live. Guitarists Tom Keeley and Steve Pedulla were given their moment to really show off what technically clean guitarists they are. They are, at times, buried in the excitement of the show, but with the new songs, they were placed at the forefront of the band. Both continued the energy through Jet Black New Year which turned the room into an old fashioned hardcore show, the crowd completely burying Rickly, both sonically and literally as it was not the first of many pile ons of the evening. They chose to stick to what has become more or less tradition over the years, closing with Autobiography of a Nation. Everyone, including all of the family that were present, got as close to the band as we were allowed and screamed the lyrics back until our lungs felt like giving out. Afterall, it’s not a Thursday show unless you go home hoarse.
This wasn’t just another show for Thursday. This was a welcome back to a scene that needed something real; it was a welcome back to a scene that was dead without them. They always seem to have everything very calculated, and they couldn’t have come back at a better time. Welcome back, boys.
At This Velocity
Into the Blinding Light
Other Side of the Crash (Under and out of Control)
Understanding In A Car Crash
Between Rupture and Rapture
Friends in the Armed Forces
Resuscitation of a Dead Man
For the Workforce, Drowning
Standing on the Edge of Summer
As He Climbed the Dark Mountain
Jet Black New Year
Tomorrow I’ll Be You
Autobiography of a Nation
Both bands have new records dropping February 17th, 2009. Thursday’s via Epitaph and The Sleeping’s via Victory. You can catch Thursday headlining this year’s Taste of Chaos festival. The Sleeping are in the process of finalising tourdates for early 2009. Keep an eye on both bands myspaces for exciting news shortly.