Early fireworks rock Miami!!
– review of the show at the Klipsch Amphitheater in Bayfront Park (Miami).
Pythagoreans claimed that three was the one true number, with numerous others saying it signified the evolution of birth, life and death. With that in mind, it seems that the intensity of Thrice, Deftones and Rise Against is almost unfairly aided to be one of the most well-balanced tour rosters in the last few years.
And what better place to show this sonic sword of diversity than Miami, a city built on passion, dreams, lost loves and most importantly, the welcoming arms of a thousand different influences, very much like each of the three acts to come. Even stretching out to Klipsch Amphitheater itself, which plays hosts not only to Ultra Music Festival’s rock acts but has hosted such legends as The Cure, Massive Attack and The Mars Volta on its own, just to name a few.
It’s in this hot pot of mixes that Thrice enters in brilliantly with their talent as a “musician’s band” still powerfully potent, opening with swirling Hurricane, the terminology not meant as an insult to the other acts, but rather, the alchemical genius that the tour allows a glimpse into, with the element Thrice presents being sonic candy.
Look no further than Black Honey, a masterfully crafted track that already intense in its record form is given more breadth in its live compatriot, brought to life by the chemistry of Eddie and Riley Breckenridge, Teppei Taranishi and Dustin Kensrue. The flowing riffs are a guitarist’s dream, such as Yellow Belly and Of Dust and Nations, examples of the treat you learn after a night of scales and growing blisters on your digits. Combine this with the modesty of the band themselves and it becomes a show that doesn’t steal from the rest, but makes sure you remember, as they closed with The Earth Will Shake.
Which brings us to Deftones, but before we get to one of the best treats of the night, it must be noted that in addition to diversity, the show brought together some of the nicest fans in rock. And it isn’t bias, with evidence not even a few feet away as a couple seated behind me apologizing if they sang too loudly to the fan in front of them, as well as common and decent courtesy. This invisible contagion of kindness spread even to the sternest of concert specimen, the security themselves. Normally as stone faced as the Queen’s guardsmen, both venue and artist security were more than kind to the fans, helping them in any way possible as well as swaying and smiling to the band’s.
It’s perhaps rooted in the passion and love of music that this trinity of mastery that each band possesses, and it’s here that we get into the Sacramento Godfathers of Rock.
One of the hardest challenges a writer can face is writing without bias, putting personal opinion aside to paint the most accurate picture of a band possible, both to fans and naysayers well, alike. And it’s in this disclaimer that it can be argued that Deftones are a genre in and of themselves, a veritable map of countries and continents that they never underutilize nor exhaust. Proof of this can be seen before even the first song itself, with their house music being notoriously ranged, going from Siouxsie and The Banshees, Joe Satriani and Laura Branigan. And while that might not seem like the type of music you associate with the hard rock legends, it couldn’t be more right.
From opener Be Quiet and Drive, sultry Rosemary and powerhouse Elite, you can hear not only the group signature hardcore, but each of their influences. Take Phantom Bride, a Cure dripped track that still doesn’t sound out of place or Digital Bath, which balances that fine and beautiful line Depeche Mode are so well known for treading. This genre bending that remains still unchallenged, highlighted gorgeously against a bevy of wildly swinging strobe lights and LED screens, flashing the ‘guns, razors, knives’ refrain of Rocket Skates could not be accomplished without the bond the members have with each other. Chino Moreno’s signature Sade swoon that can just as quickly switch to angst filled screams, Stephen Carpenter’s wondrous guitars, bassist Sergio Vega’s smile inducing fun on stage, Frank Delgado’s addition of keys and etherealness, and of course Abe Cunningham, whose time signatures are something to behold.
Amidst all this beautiful chaos is the kindness factor spoken of earlier, shown before Moreno’s venture into the crowd for Knife Prty, where he pointed out a fan’s artwork they attempted to throw toward the stage, promising he’d pick it up before the Florida alligators took it. From this, to Headup a mosh starter if there ever was one, it’s hard to believe that the group have been around since 1988, all the while never faltering in their ability to conjure feelings, from love, to passion, to touches in the darkness of the city. Whether it’s all that the band has gone through, the love they have for what they do or a combination of all the above, it’s chalked up best in closer Minerva, a love letter of sorts sung against the backdrop of a city that so desperately needs one.
And as Deftones exited the stage, we ready ourselves for the final act, Chicago natives Rise Against. Where Thrice is buildup and Deftones passion, Rise Against are the rebellion. The defiant soundtrack as the soldier’s march into battle, citizens of the neglected and disadvantaged. It’s a volatile mix to be a politically fueled band, as it separates the hardcore left, right or middle into thinking of their stance, and it’s in this discussion that the group thrive in. Kicking off with Rooftops, the energy in the audience was palpable with participation starting from the first note, with the crowd jumping along to The Good Left Undone and singing every refrain to Satellite.
Before playing Welcome To The Breakdown, singer Tim McIlrath introduced the track, saying “This song is about what it feels to be an American in 2017. The push, the pull, the tragedy, the happiness, the pride, the agony, all of it all mixed up in one. …What it looks like and what we want it to look like.”
The difference between Rise Against however and perhaps other hot button bands who whip out a political opinion to garner hits is that they mean it without malice. McIlrath and Co represent the feeling of oppression in a climate where so much is happening that many choose to change the channel or turn off the radio. To which, he offered this in his large introduction of People Live Here, that “If you take nothing else away, resist the urge to bury your head in the sand.”
Animatics played during a few of the songs depicting a short story of children fighting against tanks in an apocalyptic sunset alongside wolves, it’s a message that should be thought of, regardless of your political party or views. To see through others eyes in a world where kindness is such a rare commodity that seeing it at a concert is not just sadly foreign, but an escape.
And isn’t that what concerts are for? As Prayer of the Refugee closed out the evening to a still pumped crowd, you’re reminded that every experience is an escape.
A gathering of people that put aside whatever views they have to just enjoy one night, a few hours or a couple of great songs. It’s where kindness isn’t alien and bumping into bodies as you dance is the norm. And if three is the true number, then this trifecta of sound can only bring new beginnings and good things.