With an earlier-than-normal start time for the show, the Emo’s outside stage was a bit slow to fill up. But hardcore Thrice fans were there early, keenly aware of vocalist/guitarist Dustin Kensrue’s promise that the band would be playing older material on this tour, including “a couple shredders.” These fans were smart to claim their front-row spots after doors opened, though they may not have expected three young indie acts—The Dig, Bad Veins and Kevin Devine—to be opening for these post-hardcore veterans. By the crowd reactions, no one seemed disappointed. Those who just wanted to see Thrice stuck it out or hung out in the back.
The Dig (pictured right) just walked on stage and immediately went right into their short set, skipping the usual band introduction. With the first song of their moody indie-pop, the crowd went from wondering who this band was to them bobbing their heads and showing an appreciative, loud response afterwards.
Bad Veins (pictured below) piqued my interest with their soundcheck as the duo loaded on stage a reel-to-reel tape player and a large box that had a rotary telephone attached, which vocalist/guitarist Ben Davis used as a microphone. The added effect gave him a little hint of a Killers’ vocalist Brandon Flowers feel. Davis and drummer Sebastian Schulz use the reel-to-reel player, which they named Irene to provide the quirky musical backing for a full band sound. With Irene’s help, these two guys were able to translate their studio polish into a live setting without being just two more dudes with a Macbook.
Before Thrice came on stage to melt faces (with assistance from Austin’s 70 percent humidity), Kevin Devine mellowed the crowd with his bluesy indie rock. His simple rock style, reminiscent of Elliot Smith, came off as a bit predictable, but his intense delivery was forceful and passionate enough to explain why he has garnered such a following.
The moment Devine and his band played the last note of their last song, everyone in the venue headed as close to the front as they could. People were throwing fists in the air and chanting “Thrice!” and once the four guys walked on stage, the crowd erupted in cheer as the band briefly introduced themselves (as if they needed to) and started rocking out. The hour-and-a-half show itself was pretty epic as from the side of the venue, you saw this sea of fans banging their heads and fist pumping in unison. Kensrue shared his singing duties with the audience, taking turns screaming vocals at each other. After the show was over, the fans wouldn’t let it end there. They refused to leave their spots and shouted for an encore. And without fail, Thrice walked back on stage to give them what they wanted. Instead of leaving it off with another epic rock ending, the guys chose to leave the audience with one of the more mellower songs, “Beggars.”
Thrice, Kevin Devine, Bad Veins and The Dig performed at Emo’s in Austin on July 7, 2010.