Scraping Genius Off The Wheel

A CONVERGENCE IN WILLIAMSBURG

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“I’m just about hardcore. I’m not about that other shit.”
-anonymous Converge concert attendee, April 14, 2012

Plagued and visibly frustrated by a series of technical difficulties, Converge frontman Jacob Bannon stayed as positive as he is lithe and energetic, at one point announcing between songs, “I’m eating microphones up here. It’s punk rock.” The New England hardcore giants, who I once saw open for a goddamned cartoon, sounded better at Brooklyn’s Music Hall Of Williamsburg than at any time I’d ever seen them before. Perhaps it being the final stop of the tour or their longtime soundman’s birthday had something to do with it. Perhaps not.

The band strategically seeded close to a half dozen as-yet unreleased songs in with a well-received setlist otherwise fixated on Axe To Fall and Jane Doe tunes. New cut “Empty On The Inside” sounded jagged and full of menace, exuding a distinct Rollins Band type of sturm und drang, while others mirrored the barking fury of other set staples. Without barricades, stage divers thrived, though some lingered onstage a few seconds longer than they should’ve, with one unlucky fella given a forceful shove back into the crowd by guitarist Kurt Ballou, who maintained a fearsome bestial presence throughout the performance.

And while I overheard the quote cited above from some beefy, camo-jacketed loudmouth mere minutes before they took the stage, it was clear from Bannon’s set-closing speech that his cares are anything but one-dimensional. A signee of the petition to include Mina Caputo in Revolver‘s ‘Hottest Chicks In Hard Rock’ feature, he gave the former Life Of Agony singer a heartfelt shout-out that commended her for her strength. (It was a touching moment for me, having spent a fair bit of that prior week advocating for Caputo’s inclusion.)

If you strung all the downer sections of Touché Amore songs together, you’d still end up with something less agonizing than opener Pianos Become The Teeth‘s hangdog hardcore. I’ve seen their sonic sob story live before, so I knew what I was getting into this time around. Emaciated, emasculated frontman Kyle Durfey emotes over a strange sort of screamo-infused manufactured M83 miserablism, every song a precious dirge, a hip death march through imagined piss and mud. The Droopy Dog act feels especially forced in ultra-privileged Williamsburg, in a faux-grotty venue where Deschanel-faced bartenders serve up $12 Red Bull & Vodkas.

Incredibly, some people think PBTT’s weepy muck is worth moshing over, while Git Some‘s potent early set received polite applause and mostly supportive hollers. Nobody could be bothered, it seems, to respond more physically to their angular hardcore leavened with low-end driven noise rock. Bassist Neil Keener, formerly of Planes Mistaken For Stars, is the star performer here, though he has tough competition from gleefully unhinged vocalist Lucius Fairchild. It’s obvious why Jello Biafra digs them.

-GS

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