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Hardcore paragons put on energetic show

Published: Thursday, November 29, 2012

Updated: Thursday, November 29, 2012 15:11

If there’s one group that can sum up everything good that has happened in the hardcore community it’s Converge. They were born out of the dying punk movement, but instead became defining paragons of modern heavy music. Recently, they’ve been on a U.S. tour to support their new album, “All We Love We Leave Behind.”

I was lucky enough to catch one of these shows at Downtown Music Hall in Little Rock on Nov.4, and it was a truly unforgettable experience. Despite the fact that they’ve been together for over 20 years, there is absolutely no sign of weariness on the part of Jacob Bannon or Kurt Ballou, the founding members, and the current line-up, which has been together since 2001’s “Jane Doe,” was without a doubt the tightest band I’ve ever heard play live.

The show was opened by Swedish metal band Kvelertak and sludge-rock outfit Torche, who both played energetic, solid sets to an ever-increasingly excited audience. Kvelertak, who had come to America just to tour with these guys, had a unique black’n’roll-mixed-with-Nordic-metal thing going on and a presence that could just about push you over. Torche, on the other hand, had a spacier, post-punk vibe a-la` Colour Revolt that I think was really under appreciated by the hardcore fans.

Around 10 p.m., the house lights came up and Bannon took the stage for a sound check, and soon after that the band everyone had been waiting for began to play. They opened with “Dark Horse,” the lead song from their previous album, “Axe to Fall,” which bled seamlessly into one of their big hits, “Concubine,” before playing a few numbers from the new record. The crowd had, by this time, whirled itself into a frenzy as Bannon, ever so reminiscent of those early 80’s DIY front men, was parading across the stage with angsty antics and trading off vocals with whoever could crawl over to the stage.

Although they were forced to deal with some equipment troubles, they handled it well and were able to hold the show together without any loss of energy. Throughout the set, which was more or less a showcase of the new album, they were careful to show proper attention to their old material, and no albums were neglected save for the oldest two, which guitarist Ballou has decried in the past, and are a bit too thrashy--for me, at least.

As the evening came to a close, Bannon gave a heartfelt speech to the audience, thanking everyone for coming out and relaying the band’s appreciation that the music scene had allowed them to do what they love for so long, before ending their set with the final track from the new record, “Predatory Glow,” leaving a crowd full of sweaty, tired fans a bit awestruck at what they’d just seen.

Converge is currently finishing out their current tour across the Atlantic with Touche Amore, but the next time they come around I’d strongly suggest going to see them if you need to blow off some steam.


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