Circa Survive and Emanuel Live at Troubadour in West Hollywood

What do you get when you mix This Day Forward, Saosin, and Taken? You get dark and spacious musical landscapes and range-defying vocals known to us as Circa Survive.

The history of Circa Survive goes like this: Singer Anthony Green, at the time with Saosin, flew home to get his wisdom teeth removed and as he put it, spend time with his good friend Colin Frangicetto. Colin was just getting over the split of his band This Day Forward when Green came back home to Philadelphia. The two jammed during Green’s visit, but didn’t think too much of it.

The time came for Green to leave, he boarded a plane bound for his layover in Phoenix. Needless to say, he wouldn’t make it back to Orange County to rejoin Saosin.

The turning point happened right there in the airport, “I went to the lady at the front desk in Phoenix and was like, ‘I made a mistake. I need to go back,'” [Green] reveals. “She must have thought I was a runaway or some messed-up kid.” He called Frangicetto and told him to pick him up at the Philly airport the following morning. The next day, the first Circa Survive song was born, “Handshakes at Sunrise.”

With a full lineup, [Green, Frangicetto (guitar), guitarist Brendan Ekstrom (ex-This Day Forward), bassist Nick Beard (ex-Taken), drummer Steve Clifford], the support of Equal Vision Records, and a year and a half behind them, Circa Survive finds themselves in West Hollywood headlining the Troubadour.

The opening band of this evening, Get Back Loretta of San Diego, had a shocking sound for this type of show, but was quite refreshing as it broke up the monotony of such events. They brought with them songs that have glimpses of Ska, Big Band, and Elton John. Ya, Elton John. The band, obviously inspired by another SD act, one Blink 182, offered up some comic relief with their ditty, “Isaac Have Sex With Me” – a song written about the bands’ drummer.

After the laughs subsided, The Outline took the stage. They have a decently big sound, but lose it when the second guitarist moves to keyboard. Coheed and Cambria minus the vocal pitch, plus The Kinison best describes The Outline’s sound.

Third up were Vagrant Records’ Emanuel. The band stormed onstage and turned their sound lose on the sell out crowd. You can’t pin down these Louisville natives to any one genre or sub-genre. Playing songs off their full length album Soundtrack to a Headrush, their diverse sound is apparent in many songs.

Taking Back Sunday, Letter Kills, and Smashing Pumpkins comparisons can be made, and quite frankly on “Make Tonight,” Blindside couldn’t be anymore Blindside with the line “This is the night you are the fire.”

Emanuel opened up with the ultra catchy “The Hey Man,” and never stopped handing down the sonic assault. The laser sharp guitars and harsh vocals cut through on every song, despite the sound being extremely loud. A few other standout songs include the title track Soundtrack to a Headrush, and Hotline. Emanuel, comprised of singer/guitarist Matt Breen, guitarist/vocalist Mat Berber, bassist Bryan Whiteman, and drummer Anthony Brock, is a band that knows how to deliver a performance worthy of remembering.

Circa Survive follows to close the show. As always, comparisons can be made – The Outline singer Graham Fink states, “[Circa Survive] is the next fucking Radiohead.” He may not be far off. The debut album from Circa Survive, Juturna, is just as interesting as some tracks from Radiohead.

There is so much going on within the music that you would think it would be hard to pull off live. Well, they do a pretty damn good job of it. The band played nearly every song off Juturna. The only real knock against them could be the obvious effects used on Green’s voice. At some points, it distracts from what they are doing. Green, however, is an outstanding frontman. He knows exactly what to do, and when to do it. At one strange point during the show, he passes out bananas. Weird.

Circa Survive fans are unbelievable. They hang on every word and every note. They are some of the most loyal fans I have ever come across. Their energy never failed as they exchanged moments between themselves and Green. A true connection between fans and band is there with Circa.

The band benefited from the great sound at Troubadour, playing all the favorites including “Act Appalled,” “Oh, Hello,” and “Holding Someone’s Hair Back,” all with near perfect timing. An encore was eminent, ultimately finishing with Green saying “Let me try something,” and breaking into the hidden acoustic track on Juturna.

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