with Dredg, Codeseven, Animals As Leaders
House of Blues, Orlando, FL • October 22, 2010
Like The Flaming Lips, who played Orlando’s House of Blues just a week before them, Circa Survive also send their fans home with pockets full of confetti. Confetti canons and chaotic lighting, that’s where the similarities between the two bands end. Circa Survive, an indie emocore band turned major label prog rock experience, are touring behind their third release Blue Sky Noise.
They brought a slew of bands with them on their colorful carnival ride of a tour, but — thanks to Orlando traffic — I missed Animals as Leaders and the newly reunited Codeseven. I swung through the doors just in time to catch the sorely underrated Dredg.
Shelve this band alongside Thrice and Portugal. The Man, for it is another demonstration of a band that has successfully outgrown its emo trappings to become a band of note. Boldly stepping into territory not usually visited by the likes of modern rock bands, Dredg takes influence from artistic avenues as varied as experimental prog rock bands, high art, sleep disorders, and Salman Rushdie (whose essay “Imagine There Is No Heaven: A Letter to the Six Billionth Citizen” inspired their latest album, The Pariah, the Parrot, the Delusion).
Their sound is as layered as their influences, refusing to be locked into any one frame. During the course of their 45 minutes onstage their loud/quiet moods shift from jammy instrumentals to blistering rock to worldly rhythms and back again. Vocalist and sometimes guitarist (and even lap steel slide guitarist) Gavin Hayes has got one of those voices that can be as welcoming as a warm hug and then seques into a full passionate yearning that exudes power without resorting to a scream. As integral to the music and feel of Dredg’s live sound is drummer Dino Campanella. The body built pounder begins splashing his drumset with sweat by the second song to a degree that gives one pause to ponder, is he ok?!. Throwing his weight into unpredictable beats, his viciously aggressive approach to drumming feels remarkably improvisational.
Actually, everything about Dredg feels spontaneous, as when Hayes had a guitar malfunction and rather than grab for another he set it aside and changed pace by going into a completely different song. Their set was as loosely structured as it was tightly executed.
Before the headliner’s stage set was even halfway assembled (complete with a pair of massive walls of lights and a backdrop depicting the cover of their latest record), the crowd was already on the verge of crying out for the show to begin… and for front man Anthony Green to begin his evening-long tease of staying just inches out of reach of the outstretched arms of ecstatic fans.
Circa Survive has, in a very short time, gone from being the small print opening act on tours top billed by the likes of Thrice or Coheed & Cambria, to nearly selling out the House of Blues on its own merit. They’ve been calling Atlantic Records home for the past two records, and their music has gotten more accessible since the move to the majors. For some bands this would be a criticism; for Circa Survive it’s a compliment. All of the excess baggage has been sanded down and the songs that remain feel cleaner, more melodic, and allow the focus to be the impressively high range emotive vocals of Green.
It’s no surprise, then, that the band not only opens up with the first three songs off of the new album, but proceeds to play almost the entire thing through the course of the night. The older tunes like “Living Together,” and the epically soaring “The Difference Between Medicine and Poison Is in the Dose ” garner the usual hysteria reserved for songs that have had a few years to breathe, but the Blue Sky Noise numbers are the ones that really sail across the airwaves.
As the night goes on, Green’s trademark flailing-about dances onstage and face-reddening wailing drench his shirt beyond repair. “I see some glistening cheeks out there,” he tells the audience, “but they could glisten a lot more. You guys should be sweating as much as I am!”
By the time of the encore, another trio from the new album, there was plenty of glistening on the bodies of the fans who gathered bits of confetti in their pockets before shuffling out into the Florida night.
To see more photos from this show, and others, go to www.jencray.com.