Anberlin

Written by on February 3, 2011 in February 3, 2011, Live Reviews - Comments Off on Anberlin

Friday, January 14, 2011
The National – Richmond, Virginia

Photography provided by Stephen Gibson Photography

AnberlinFriday night, January 14th, 2011, my hometown of Richmond, Virginia proved to me that it is not just a conservative type of town that has no places to enjoy good music that you can relate to.  On what happened to be the opening night of their tour to promote their newest album “Dark Is the Way, Light is a Place”, Anberlin, (www.anberlin.com) along with Foxy Shazam and Circa Survive came to town and made a liar out of me by rocking out the sold out crowd of approximately 1,600 at “The National” (thenationalva.com).

I have to be honest, this was the first time I had ever even heard of Foxy Shazam and when they (Eric Nally, Loren Turner, Daisy, Sky White, Aaron McVeigh and Alex Nauth) took the stage, they made sure I wouldn’t forget them again.  They are comically entertaining with their onstage physical antics to say the least.  The instant they came out they were non-stop, like they mainlined Red Bull with a chaser of a couple of 5 hour energy shots.  Some of the audience likened them to “Queen on steroids”.  I think that was a perfect analogy.  When Eric Nally took a break between a few songs to engage the audience first by offering the “dumb white people” in the audience “20 bucks if they can kill him” (that got a pretty good laugh from me), and later performed fellatio on the microphone before telling a member of the audience that he would “take him by the back of the head and beat his head into the sidewalk until he bled to death” for that particular person telling them they sucked.  A few of the songs they played included Bombs Away, Oh Lord, and Count Me Out, all of them are off of their self titled “Foxy Shazam” album that was released in April of 2010.  The music was good, I’m not saying that, but it wasn’t great either. That is my own opinion and you know what they say about opinions.  This band is definitely an acquired taste and one that I don’t have any plans on craving more from anytime soon.

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Circa Survive was up next.  This is where I need to say that whoever set up the speakers/amps on the stage at this venue needs a hearing test because it was extremely out of balance.  The guitars were louder than the lead singer so much that you could hardly hear him over them.  The National is a smaller venue and allows the audience a much more personal and intimate performance from the bands they are seeing and Circa Survive and Anthony Green used that to his advantage.  He had a great way of putting himself right there with the audience.  I think if the people with The National would have allowed it, he would have done a little crowd surfing just to put himself closer to them but that didn’t stop the crowd from doing a little bit of crowd surfing on their own and getting thrown out due to the fact the venue does not allow that type of behavior to which I applaud them for.

AnberlinAnthony and the rest of the band (Colin Frangicetto – Guitars, Brendan Eckstrom – Guitars, Nick Beard – Bass, and Steve Clifford – Drums) has a great sound and a great stage presence with such songs as, “Glass Arrows” from the “Blue Sky Noise” album, “Stop the Fuckin’ Car” & “Wish Resign” both from the “Juturna” album, and “In the Morning” from the “On Letting Go” album.  I did like a few of the songs they played and it seemed as if some of the songs would have been better heard in a larger venue with better sound techs behind it.  I would have to listen to some of the songs again so I can really hear them before I can definitely say that I like this band, but then plenty of my fellow audience members already made that decision for themselves because they sang quite a lot of the songs in tune with the band.

Last but definitely the best out of them all was Anberlin.  First off, this band has a big sound and deserves to be playing in larger venues with the mainstream bands and Stephen Christian (vocals) has a fantastic voice that just permeates as soon as he hits the stage.  I would fare to say that most of the audience (myself included) have only heard of these guys since mainstream radio started playing them and probably didn’t know any of the other songs besides “Feel Good Drag”,  but the band was smart to serve them up a good helping of their other songs first, including “We Owe This To Ourselves” from “Dark is the Way, Light is the Place”, “Paper Thin” off of “Never Take Friendship Personal”, “Disappear” off of “ New Surrender”, and “Closer” which is also from “Dark is the way, Light is the Place”.  They treated the audience to 8 more songs including the afore mentioned hit “Feel Good Drag” and when the first note of that was played, the crown blew up.  I think, in my opinion, this was the best part of the night. Anberlin has such a great stage presence and definitely loves to interact with their fans reaching out to them allowing them to touch them and I remember one point early in the show when Stephen said to “Keep that Balloon floating, let’s get it all the way up in the balcony” and the audience did their very best to get it to the balcony, but unfortunately it didn’t make it but they sure did keep it floating throughout the rest of the night.

Their music was great and I could actually hear Stephen Christian singing with the rest of the band members, Deon Rexroat whose mastery behind the bass will make your ears pound well into the next day, Joseph Milligan – who is so energetic and sizzles behind Stephen with Lead Guitar, Nathan Young who could pound the walls of “The National” into oblivion if he had a mind to and is so animated behind his “Truth” drum set that I can see a hint of “Tommy Lee” in him with the way  he loves to give the crowd what they paid to come see, Christian McAlhaney is also a beast behind his guitar even though I was a little disappointed he didn’t come out of the shadows of the stage a whole lot to allow the crowd to see him play.

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The crowd didn’t let Anberlin sing alone because they were matching the band word for word on most if not all of the songs throughout their whole set.  The night ended with Anberlin thanking the crowd, especially those who have been with them since the beginning.  This was the first show that I’ve been to that ended and didn’t have an encore and I along with the crowd was a little bummed they didn’t come back for that encore as the crowd chanted “One more Song”, One More Song”, but they didn’t get that “One More Song” when everyone realized the band was tearing things down to end the night.

This band deserves to be playing main event stages and maybe venues like The National are also just the way the band wants to be seen, so they can be so personal with the fans too but I definitely believe they deserve better stages.

In the eight years that they have been together Anberlin is quickly on their way to being something HUGE, and if tonight was any indication of what they can do in a small venue, I honestly can’t wait to see what they could do with a larger set.

We would like to say a special thanks to the fine people at Big Hassle for allowing us the opportunity to see Anberlin and we only hope that should they come back this way in the future and hopefully in a bigger venue where they should really be playing that they allow us the pleasure of reviewing them again.