Review Summary: I just heard someone say we’re not a jukebox, and I appreciate that.
While they’re not on the forefront of new musical ideas, nor are they innovators of anything in particular, there’s still something special about the quartet from So-Cal. Consider their resume; they’ve put out an album that meshed post-hardcore with metal riffs and punk tempos, tastefully decorated with hooks and melodies, all executed nearly flawlessly to make a case for classic status (The Illusion of Safety
), refined the sound and added more pop sensibility with the almost impossible not to like The Artist in the Ambulance
, added some experimentation along with whatever instruments they had at their disposal with the radically different (for them) Vheissu
, and finally, expanded on all of their sounds and influences with the highly experimental The Alchemy Index
. So it’s safe to say that not many bands have tread as much ground as Thrice. With the enormous amount of ground they’ve covered, along came many loyal fans that maybe weren’t so loyal anymore when their newer records came out; any time a band is as versatile as this one, there are bound to be frustrated fans that wished they would stick to one of their particular sounds. This makes for interesting concerts; it’s inevitable that a portion of the crowd will only participate during certain songs, so Thrice do their best (not really) to please everyone at the House of Blues in their home state, fully equipped with beards and flannel shirts.
The first portion of the set is mostly made up of Alchemy Index
songs (surprise!), with the semi-rare “Flags of Dawn” sneaking in. The newer songs actually translated better than I expected into a live setting; there’s enough variation within the Alchemy Index
songs to suit whatever mood they were going for, so a nice little flow gets established early on and manages to make it all the way to the end of the two-disc set with minor hiccups. The band doesn’t shy away from their softer material live either, as “Digital Sea” and “Open Water” both make an appearance in the first eight songs. After a few songs garner seemingly lukewarm receptions, the crowd interaction finally gets to a substantial level near the end of the first disc with the perfect sing-along, “The Artist in the Ambulance”. The nostalgic fans in the crowd aren’t singing for long as the beautiful pair of “Broken Lungs” and “The Whaler” open the second disc. The studio version of the latter uses a drum machine to lay down the off-beat backbone of the song and Riley gives a very solid performance for the live version. In between songs, Dustin usually gives brief commentary or talks to the crowd. He even eventually addresses the constant demands to play whatever songs by saying “I just heard someone say we’re not a jukebox, and I appreciate that.” He goes on to admit it was Riley, and that if they deferred from the set at all it would confuse the guys running the lights. Don’t worry though, they satisfy the demands of those
people that incessantly yell “Deadbolt!” throughout the entire set by waiting until the encore to play it and “The Earth Will Shake” – which is probably one of their best live songs due to the chants and climatic ending.
One of the first things you’ll probably notice is how high Eddie’s bass is in the mix (which in my opinion is how the bass should be mixed in any show), so that extra punch is present during the entire set and everything sounds very full and complete. A good example of this is the hard-hitting “Firebreather”, with the gang vocals during the bridge in full force; when you watch the DVD you can see that people actually come up on stage and share the mics with the band to give their “oh-o-o-o”s. I don’t know if this was intentionally humorous but it struck me as so. The band’s energy isn’t that great but you can still tell they want to be there, which is an upgrade from stage presences like Between the Buried and Me. As I mentioned before, they don’t defer from the set for anything, and that’s okay because the flow never gets interrupted, except for maybe the placement of “Trust” after “The Artist in the Ambulance”. The slower songs all translate well into a live setting, and the whole performance could probably work as an all-encompassing “Complete Works of Thrice” album. Everyone in the band except for Riley has a mic, so they all get plenty of involvement, from Eddie’s screams in a lot of songs to Teppei’s background vocals on “All That’s Left”.
Chances are if you've heard and liked a Thrice song, they have at least one album that should appeal to you because of their diversity. Having 25 of their songs that span four albums in one place almost guarantees that you will enjoy at least a few songs here. The DVD portion also includes some behind the scenes featurettes and interviews, things that die-hards gobble up. The lack of inclusion of some fan favorites like "To Awake and Avenge the Dead", "Hoods on Peregrine" and "Paper Tigers" will undoubtedly disappoint some, but some of the band's most loved songs like "For Miles", "The Earth Will Shake" and "Cold Cash and Colder Hearts" are here. The House of Blues this was recorded at is a relatively small venue, so that personal level of connection really shows in some of the fans during the show. Aside from a solid performance and an expansive, varied set, there isn't really anything that makes picking this up a necessity. But for any Thrice fan, no more could be asked.