Thrice are undoubtedly one of the most underrated heavy bands around. Starting off as a post-hardcore outfit that dabbled in emo and punk, the Californians have evolved into one of the finest and varied alternative rock bands of their time. Last Saturday, Thrice played a headline show in Camden’s Electric Ballroom ahead of their Sunday slot at Download festival.
The show was opened by Belgian trio Brutus who have been making waves in the world of extreme music. The Brutus sound draws inspiration from bands like Deftones and At The Drive-In, but also bears tinges of post-rock, black metal and punk, resulting in a fairly unique mashup that retains homogeneity despite its varied roots. Fronted by the vocalist/drummer Stefanie Mannaerts, she effortlessly combined passionate soaring vocals with complex, ever-changing drum patterns (including some rapid blastbeats), while her two colleagues on guitars and bass effortlessly switched between beautiful shoegaze passages and menacing tremolo riffs. One to watch, Brutus received a warm reception from the crowd and got us ready for the main act.
The two bars of acoustic chords opening ‘Hurricane’ kicked off Thrice’s set like the calm before the storm of a real hurricane, as the whole band joined into the huge-sounding number off their latest album. Vocalist Dustin Kensure sounded as great as ever, boasting plenty of range in his cleans and a sharp throatiness to his screams. From new to old, Thrice transitioned into noughties hard-hitter ‘Silhouette’, and then ‘Of Dust And Nations’ – one of the best songs in their entire catalogue. A strong start like this gave all signs they were pulling no punches tonight – we were in for seeing the best that Thrice have to offer.
A large portion of the set was dedicated to 2016’s To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere, their triumphant return after a four-year hiatus. Big hitters like the mid-tempo stomper ‘Black Honey’ or rocker ‘Blood In The Sand’ found great appreciation among the crowd, and are bound to maintain a presence in their set beyond just their album cycle. The Camden audience also witnessed the live premiere of their new single ‘The Grey’, released earlier the same week – with its dirty bass and main riff that sticks in your head with the stubbornness of bubblegum on the soles of a trainer, the only thing that reminded it isn’t a live staple was Dustin forgetting momentarily forgetting a few lines of lyrics. This was the only shaky moment of the entire performance – Thrice are immaculate performers, capable of perfectly recreating their recordings, whilst pouring themselves into delivering a passionate, raw live show.
‘The Long Defeat’, a song about powering through life despite the struggle, produced the climactic finish to Thrice’s main set in it’s sing-along outro – a sort of celebration of a whole crowd of strangers coming together in this one moment, united by our shared love for the music. The crowd’s hunger for more music became apparent as the usual chant for encore was slightly amended to ‘ten more songs’. It was only three, but what three they were – early 00s anthems ‘The Artist in the Ambulance’ and ‘Deadbolt’ stirred up the moshpit for one last time, while the chain gang chorus of ‘The Earth Will Shake’ off the seminal album Vheissu stretched our vocal chords one last time.
Thrice displayed categorically why they maintain a dedicated cult following amongst fans from all strands of rock music. With a new record deal (with Epitaph Records, no less) under their belt and a fiercely energetic live show, Thrice are showing no intentions of slowing down.