Thrice / Sleepshaker / Old Blood

The Marquee Ballroom, Halifax NS, July 28

Photo: Richard Lann

BY Bradley Zorgdrager Published Jul 29, 2018

The mood was already electric and a little buzzy when doors opened at the Marquee Ballroom for Thrice's show in Halifax last night (July 28), and it remained that way until an hour-and-a-half later, when the night's performances began.
Openers Old Blood did a solid job of providing hard rock to the night's proceedings, complete with the occasional Dustin Kensrue-esque vocal inflection, charging the crowd up for the headliners. Middle act Sleepshaker fared even better, delivering a sound somewhere between blissful post-hardcore and blistering melodic hardcore. Toward the end of their set, the quintet said this was the last time they'd play "North End Blues." After some coaxing, members of the crowd enthusiastically breached the stage to sing along and eventually jump back into the melee.
With such energy in the room, the crowd was antsy for the headliners, but when Thrice finally took the stage to thunderous applause they reined things in a bit with the calm intro of "Hurricane." The tension broke and the crowd collided when the powerful song swelled and rolled throughout like waves, rising and falling throughout the chorus crescendo. Still, that energy paled in comparison to the audible cheers that greeted "Silhouette" from fan favourite album The Artist in the Ambulance. It wasn't just the screams in the song that elicited them from the crowd, but a general enthusiasm for a band that had never played Halifax before.
Thrice played like the large venue act they are, despite being transplanted to the relatively small (700 capacity) room and lacking their traditionally more elaborate visual set-up. In lieu of that, light-up wristbands handed out to audience members by show sponsors Aurora Illumination drew eyes around the room as they changed colours and somehow reflected the musical moods; their hues were complemented by the Marquee Ballroom's humble lighting and lit up primarily blue during the sombre intro of "Of Dust and Nations," red throughout the lyrical rage of "All the World Is Mad" and yellow for the chorus of "Black Honey," matching the sweet nectar in its title. It was a fun addition that added something the visuals otherwise might have lacked. That said, the existing lighting added heat, and lots of it, to the crowded room. By the end of the latter song, bassist Eddie Breckenridge's tan shirt was two different colours, as it absorbed the sweat dripping from his bass.
Teppei Teranishi's lead guitar playing shone throughout the night, even soaring above the massive sing-alongs that came with "The Artist in the Ambulance" and "Stare at the Sun." New song "The Grey," from forthcoming tenth LP Palms, proved the colour coordination was coincidence, as the band didn't perform it under a haze of its titular shade, but its quick opening drum fill gave Breckenridge's brother Riley a moment in the spotlight.
The sibling rhythm section were rock solid throughout the night, as was Kensrue, whose consistent yet chameleonic croon led them through career-spanning tracks such as "The Weight," "Firebreather," "Yellow Belly," "The Long Defeat" and closer "The Earth Will Shake." By the end of their set, the only albums not represented were the second volume of The Alchemy Index — a disappointing but understandable omission considering they toured celebrating the elemental collection just last year — and their first two releases.
Predictably, the empty stage was met with lovingly demanding chants hoping to coax the band back for at least one more. They thankfully obliged and returned for a final song and, in doing so, crossed sophomore LP The Illusion of Safety off the list of unrepresented releases via a rowdy rendition of riff-fest "Deadbolt." It was the perfect way to turn the key on a special night where attendees could catch a tenured act (many for the first time) in an intimate setting that few have seen them in for many years.

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