Emily Read/ Creative Commons
Evan Thomas Weiss, leader of indie/emo rock band Into It. Over It., performs at Toad’s Place.
I still get chills when I think about my first experience of the bands Into It. Over It., The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die and A Great Big Pile of Leaves on Feb. 23. These three bands are some of the leaders of an emo-rock revival that has grown rapidly in the past several years. Admittedly, I was only recently introduced to them. However, that didn’t stop me from purchasing a ticket as soon as I heard they were touring together. It may have been my best decision as of late; the energy and passion of a budding music scene was overwhelming and I have never felt more connected to musicians performing onstage.
A Great Big Pile of Leaves began the night with their upbeat, danceable brand of indie rock. Their sound expanded large and loud, warmly embracing the audience despite the cold outside and the tightness of Toad’s Place, a venue in New Haven. Performing favorites from both of their full-length albums, the band set the bar high with an extreme amount of energy and showmanship. Leaves is a band that can let their music speak for itself – no elaborate light shows or backdrops. Their surprisingly catchy and melodic leads swept up the audience and had them singing along with each song. As they descended into the deceptive mid-section of closer “We Don’t Need Our Heads,” the band suddenly exploded with sound and the song’s signature gang vocals. The crowd went wild, singing and jumping as if anticipating this moment the entire night.
As the nine members of The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die took to the stage, the crowd packed tighter than before. A quiet interlude began as spoken word poet Chris Zizzamia recited his work and the sounds elegantly evolved into the opening song, “Heartbeat in the Brain.” The crowd rose and fell with the naturally shifting dynamics of the music; heavier sections were met with pushing, yelling and crowd surfing before the quiet interludes returned, providing us with room to breathe. Each aspect of the group’s unique instrumentation – including three guitars, a synth and a cello – came through clearly. The set finished with the band’s iconic song “Getting Sodas,” before they humbly departed, leaving the crowd dazed and craving more.
Following the massive performances of the first two bands was the headliner: Into It. Over It. Frontman Evan Weiss derived his 20-song set from all corners of his diverse discography. While songs such as “Brenham, TX” and “New North-Side Air” stood out, Weiss was the true icon of the evening. His friendly banter with the crowd made each of us feel like close friends. One anecdote described the signature heckles shouted by crowds from cities across the country. Weiss remarked that he has yet to hear one from New Haven, before an audience member shouted “ALL DAY!” This became the rallying call after each song to the enjoyment of the band – one of many moments that bound a group of strangers together through a common musical experience.
I had a thought the morning after the unforgettable concert. There’s an indescribable feeling you get after you’ve been to an amazing show. The chills remain with you for several weeks. Even the most worn-out songs by your favorite band will teem with new life after you see them performed live. This post-concert euphoria is something every music fan deserves to experience – not once or twice, but dozens of times.