During the encore to Thursday’s set at Bogart’s in Cincinnati, singer Geoff Rickly admitted that their current tour was the first he’d ever done sober and encouraging those in the audience struggling with addiction that he was hopeful they could find healing and peace.
With his powerful words resonating with the crowd, it also provided the perfect opportunity to reflect on the serious, solemn nature of the New Brunswick, New Jersey, band, whose career ignited 17 years prior with “Understanding In a Car Crash,” and who went on to write poignant, anthemic albums like War All of The Time. After all, finding healing and peace amidst personal and political chaos has always been the band’s active modus operandi.
The name Thursday was synonymous with emo and post-hardcore music in the ‘90s though the band flamed out in the 2011 after several strong, politically tinged albums including A City by The Light Divided, Common Existence and No Devolucion. After a five year hiatus, during which no one expected to hear from the band again, they reunited for Atlanta’s Wrecking Ball Festival in 2016.
On this tour, their widely recognized dove logo was flanked by a pair of banners that read “Refugees Welcome Here” and “Protect Immigrant Communities.” Mid-set Rickly illuminated the inclusion of the banners adding that if they offended anyone in the crowd that they hadn’t been paying attention to the band’s lyrics. Naturally, this statement was a springboard into the band’s “Autobiography of a Nation” from their lauded Full Collapse album.
There were a few lighter moments of camaraderie that peppered the set. The band were joined by Touche Amore vocalist Jeremy Bolm during one song (although the mic wasn’t immediately working), and during another, slower number, when large balloons made their way to the crowd via the side stage area and were batted between the crowd and band. All in all, the set showcased an iconic act who were both fiery and in top form.
Los Angeles-based post-hardcore heavies Touche Amore garnered the bill’s third spot, following openers Cities Aviv and England’s Basement, with vocalist Bolm expressing gratitude to Thursday who had taken the band on one of their earliest and best tours. The band is clearly cut from the same cloth as their socially conscious tourmates. Much of Touche Amore’s power comes via the clear chemistry between Bolm and his bandmates, guitarists Nick Steinhardt and Clayton Stevens, bassist Tyler Kirby and drummer Elliot Babin, who is an absolute beast.
Though the band covered ground from several of their albums, including Parting The Sea Between Brightness and Me and 2013’s critically acclaimed Is Survived By, the highlights of their set came during their delivery of their most recent material, songs from 2016 masterpiece Stage Four, which Bolm wrote about his mom’s battle with cancer and dealing with her loss. In particular, “New Halloween” and “Benediction” dropped like a ton of bricks.
Although Touche Amore is clearly a band best suited for a more intimate venue, the band’s aggressive stage presence and fury seemed to shrink the room and invite crowd interaction, some of which caught the band by surprise. In particularly, at one point Bolm was pulled into the crowd when he extended the microphone for some group participation.
It is easy to see why the band topped so many “Best of 2016” lists because they are clearly an outfit who is at the top of their game, who are growing tighter and more muscular with each record and tour, and whose influence and legacy threatens to overshadow that of even their strongest and most beloved predecessors.
Words by Tim Anderl, Photos by Jeremy Ward
(Catch the last two dates of the tour here:
Tuesday, April 25 – St. Andrew’s Hall, Detroit, MI
Sunday, April 30 – Irving Plaza, New York, NY)