LIVE: Touché Amore, Gouge Away, Single Mothers, Masquerade, September 25, 2017

Atlanta, GA – Autumn, the perfect time for cozy sweaters, hot cider drinks, and of course, a healthy playlist full of emo songs. What better way to kick off the season than with a live performance by Touché Amore at Atlanta’s infamous Masquerade?

The Masquerade is one of Atlanta’s most renowned concert venues. Having undergone a recent change in location, the venue now resides in “Underground Atlanta”, an entertainment and shopping district placed squarely in downtown. It’s conveniently adjacent to Five Points Station, the transfer spot for the city’s major public train routes, which is likely a welcomed change for the venue’s non-driving attendees. The venue offers three distinct neighboring spaces in order to host multiple events the same night, affectionately known as Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell. Touché Amore’s show was hosted in the latter of the three, providing an intimate, barrier-free evening. There was just enough chaos to keep the evening fun and lively, without the crowd becoming overly aggressive or unfriendly…or even hellish.

There’s something uniquely cathartic about taking all of the mixed feelings that come in the aftermath of a life-changing event and channeling them through the words of a song that helps you move to a place of acceptance. Maybe you can accentuate that catharsis by diving off of a stage, snatching the microphone away from a band’s vocalist for a few catchy lines, or just bashing around with the strangers nearest to you. If anything like this hits close to home, there likely aren’t many bands out there better suited to serve as the soundtrack for your healing process than Touché Amore.

Much of lead vocalist Jeremy Bolm’s lyrical content deals with themes of loss, whether that’s the literal life-loss of a loved one, or the loss of something more figurative in nature. Between the band’s impassioned performance, and the audience’s emphatic reaction, this general state of mind was palpable throughout the set. It started almost immediately with the band’s opening song, “Displacement.” Like many of the songs from Stage Four, the band’s latest release from Epitaph Records, the song deals with the passing of Bolm’s mother.

Beautifully melodic moments were delivered with contemporary hits like “Benediction” and “Palm Dreams.” Shout-out to the showgoers of Atlanta’s hardcore scene for their ability to actually sing along in tune, and with respect to the tempo, of such moving choruses. Harder, more aggressive moments were also delivered with old-school fan-favorites such as “Cadence” from To Beat A Dead Horse, the band’s 2009 release via 6131 Records. The band has an impressively large catalogue of material, and fans of any era were likely delighted at the band’s inclusion of songs both old and new.

Supporting Touché Amore on their tour were openers Gouge Away from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and Single Mothers  from London, Ontario. Gouge Away’s sound is a gloomy blend of hardcore, punk, and even a dash of grunge. Despite the dark sound the band delivered, the lead vocalist remained delightfully humble and cheery during her mid-song banter. This was perfectly embodied when she nonchalantly mentioned that their song “Bleed” was about stabbing rapists. Her brief chuckle was promptly followed up with some intensely aggressive hardcore riffs and throat-shredding screams.

Single Mothers followed up nicely with the perfect degree of contrast. While they too are a heavy band with elements of post-hardcore thrown into the mix, there’s also an old-school rock and roll swagger in both their sound and presentation. The band’s unique style is wildly threaded together with a vocalist that falls somewhere between spoken word, screaming, and pop-inspired singing. All in all, both bands were the perfect choice to support the tour. A diverse evening was delivered, celebrating many of the eclectic subgenres underneath the hardcore umbrella.

Despite how sad these songs can be at times, there was still an undeniable party-vibe about the whole evening. All of these bands are expertly skilled at delivering heartbreaking themes and melancholy sounds, while somehow still leaving the audience smiling. It’s part of what makes punk or hardcore shows so special, especially those that take place on Monday nights. Sure, you may have a bruise or two for the next few days, but they feel more like little badges of honor than injuries. They’re little visible marks that remind you that you had a fun night, and can handle anything that the week is about to throw at you. Perhaps more importantly, they show you that it’s possible to heal after a painful experience.

The band continues their tour throughout the U.S. in upcoming weeks with Gouge Away and Single Mothers. Check the band’s website for dates coming near you, or for other announcements. (Andrew Humphrey)