By Keeyahtay Lewis
For those of you who have been visiting this site a while, or even to my site, it has been established how much we like Circa Survive. I found out that they would be doing two record release shows in Philly and I jumped at the chance to cover it. Their new album, Violent Waves, came out this week. Like many others I pre-ordered it, so I got the advance copy and I listened to it for a week straight before the show. I couldn’t wait to see these songs live. I headed down to Union Transfer on Saturday night, and I prepared to have my mind blown by Anthony Green and the guys, once again.
Another favorite band of mine, Balance and Composure, were opening the show. I have seen them play a few times now and I am always impressed. Led by Jon Simmons on vocals and guitar, this 5 piece band out of the Philly area always bring passion to the stage. Opening with Void, Burden and Quake it was obvious that the audience were not strangers to this band. Bringing them along on the tour definitely is a good fit. Special guest Ned Russin of Title Fight was on the bass, and he brought a little extra energy to the band.
Most of their 9 song set came from their last album, Separation, and songs like Stonehands, I Can’t Do This Alone and Rope were huge hits with everyone in the room screaming along every word. Jon’s voice was strong and the rest of the band kept the energy high. It was nice to see them play again and I am sure that they are going to build many new fans on the upcoming tour.
I had an all access pass from Circa so I spent the time in between bands back stage talking with everyone. The new album has a guest vocal from Geoff Rickly of Thursday and he was back there as well. The energy was high from everyone, you could almost feel it tickle the back of your neck while the front of the house got everything ready. I will say again something I have said before, Circa Survive shows always feel like family. Anthony always greets me like an old friend when I see him. Various friends, kids, and band member’s parents make up the rest of the people. Soon enough though, there was the band huddle, then it was time for them to take the stage.
As soon as there is even a hint that they band is ready to come out, the packed, sold out crowd went insane. I have never been to Union Transfer before, but I knew that Saturday night would test the strength of the rafters. They opened up with a new song, the one with Geoff singing the chorus: Lottery. It was fantastic to see him on stage again, (RIP Thursday), the chemistry between him and Anthony is obvious. There is never any getting warmed up with Circa Survive, they go out there and kill it from the first note. Anthony spent a lot of time on the barricade and in the crowd, letting the kids hold his legs up and scream along every word.
Another new one, Sharp Practice, and then an older song, Holding Someone’s Hair Back were next. The new songs were treated just like the old ones, with excitement and a chorus of voices. At this point the album had not even been released yet. It was clear to see that everyone had pre-ordered it to get the instant digital download. The set list bounced around all four albums: Living Together, Imaginary Enemy, Through The Desert Alone, Bird Songs, and Strange Terrain followed. Circa shows are never just 5 guys on stage going through the motions. Confetti, inflatable balls and Anthony getting sweaty in the pit with the kids were all part of it.
A lot is said about Anthony Green, and it is understandable. He has charisma to spare, enough energy to power Philly for a week, and a voice that is unmatched. But behind him are 4 extremely talented guys who keep it all moving along. Nick Beard on bass, Steve Clifford on drums, and Colin Frangicetto and Brendan Ekstrom on guitars. The band has never sounded better. Beyond that, from my spot next to Steve, it is easy to see how much they all love playing together. I was able to hear the jokes and comments they all shared in between songs. And the smiles they passed around.
Before the show, Anthony told me he doesn’t see himself as a celebrity. The interaction he has the whole show makes it clear that he just feels like a regular guy who is lucky to do what he does.
A definite favorite was up next: The Only Difference Between Medicine and Poison Is The Dose. As soon as it started hundreds of voices sang along, “Move one inch at a time, don’t make shit rhyme…”, beautiful. After that song Anthony decided to add a song in that wasn’t on the list. He ran around and talked the guys, a couple changes were made on the spot. Then he told the audience they were going to play something that they almost never played. Always Getting What You Want from the Juturna album was that song, and people lost their damn minds. “It’s the talent, not the promotion” are some of the lyrics, and the talent was on display Saturday night.
Stop The Fucking Car, Suitcase, and Birth Of the Economic Hit Man were the last 3 songs before the encore. The latter two are from the new album, and both songs are a bit slower. Suitcase has delicate vocals which Anthony handled beautiful, with the help of every person in the room. Hit Man is the longest song Circa has in their catalog, at around 7 minutes, and for those minutes everyone just got lost in it.
The band left briefly and then came out with the one, two punch of In Fear and Faith and the ferocious Get Out. Talk about leaving everyone wanting more. Both of the songs are long time favorites of the fans, and the band left everything they had on the stage afterwards.
Taking my bias out of it, Circa Survive are one of the best bands doing it right now. Period. A few really great albums have came out the last few months, but with Violent Waves the band is trying to stake their claim. The album is self produced, and self released, and today is was #1 on ITunes for Alternative Rock. And they deserve it. It is definitely the best, and most easily accessible album of their 8 year career. Beyond that, I have been able to get know some of the guys on a more personal level, and they are super down to Earth and just…damn nice. All too often I see guys on stage putting on a show and going through the motions. You can see the band that doesn’t give a shit about anyone beyond the stage. Circa Survive is not that band.
They will be going out on the road for a small tour starting 9/13/-10/27/12. Just go. Seriously. Don’t think about it, go online now, and buy tickets. You won’t be sorry. And buy the album. Support a band that really gives a shit. But even if you don’t care about 5 guys trying to do it on their own, pick up the new album because it is incredible. This past weekend Circa Survive played two sold out shows in Philly. If it is any indication of what we can expect on the upcoming tour, I will be at every show I can be at. So should you.