Sometimes the most effective way to capture an audience’s attention is to simply let them sing the songs. Or you can always just threaten their lives if they don’t like your newest release. That was the route screamo rockers Thursday took when they stormed Philly’s Theater of Living Arts Sept. 25.
Halfway through a blistering set of iron-clad guitar riffs and emotionally drenched prophetic anthems of rage and despair, singer Geoff Rickly paused and politely told the packed house, “We have a new album out and if you don’t like it, then you’re dead.”
As they had been doing all night, the crowd responded with a deafening round of cheers and applause for the bold front man.
This sort of move hammered down the fact that Thursday has become the sort of cult band where the wide-eyed glare and intensity of its fans speak volumes about their connection with their musical heroes.
Rickly, in particular, has become the front man whose lyrics of broken hearts and frustration of living in a post Sept. 11, 2001, world give him, and his fans, reason to metaphorically and literally scream until their throats are dry and bloodied.
This instant connection between band and fan was seen right away as the band launched into “For The Workforce, Drowning.” From the instant pummeling of their dual-guitar attack (Steve Pedulla and Tom Keeley), Thursday had the crowd in the palm of its hand.
Strobe lights and a black tarp drooping from the ceiling backed the group’s intense live show. The white dove pictured on the tarp served as an ironic backdrop for a band hell-bent on indulging in the sorrows and frustrations of adolescence. Like Thursday, the dove served as a metaphor of hope in which the teenage crowd looked to in earnest.
In between blood-curdling howls and gut-wrenching swoons, Rickly turned the mic over to his beloved following. From cuts off their current release, War All The Time, to older fan favorites, the crowd was right there for every painstaking lyric and riff.
The highlight off the night came following a fierce and grueling performance of their hit single “Understanding In A Car Crash.” The tune was written after Rickly had been driving with a group of friends only to wind up in a car crash and walk out the only survivor.
In turn, the intensity and pain in Rickly’s voice rippled throughout the theater as an entire generation mourned in unison.