Concert Review: Senses Fail at the Webster Theater in Hartford, CT
Senses Fail Rating:
October 20, 2010
Reviewed by: Diana Guay
Senses Fail hit the Webster Theater on the “Out With The In Crowd” tour in support of their latest album The Fire. The New Jersey post-hardcore band toured extensively with Warped Tour in the 00’s which no doubt secured them a fan base of kids who could identify with singer Buddy Nielsen’s intensely personal lyrics whose music blends teenage angst with a pop sensibility. Any punk/hardcore hybrid band benefits by featuring songs on video games, and Senses Fail is no exception. They’ve had songs on Tony Hawk, Guitar Hero 2 and Guitar Hero 3 as well as on movie soundtracks like Underworld:Evolution, among others which only helped to cast a wider audience net. Recently, the band released new album The Fire on their MySpace page, in a very clever marketing ploy, no doubt to encourage fans to sing along to new songs that they’d promote on this tour.
Bounding on stage barefoot, singer Buddy Nielsen sets the mood for the show with jumps, mic throws and cartwheels. He brought fierce growls with focused intensity, evidence of the work he’s put in with his side project hardcore punk band Bayonet. The energy on stage was palpable and the crowd reacted, as there was actually a fight about 3 songs into the set and one fan was escorted out. Minor incident aside, the majority of the crowd gave back as much energy as the band poured out.
Early in the show, the band featured explosive new songs “New Year’s Eve” and “St. Anthony”. Later on, they played title track “The Fire” which has incredibly hopeful lyrics “It’s ok to feel lost/It just means you’re alive” sung in a soft melody that reads of redemption. Of course they didn’t disappoint with a setlist completely dedicated to self-promotion of a new album, so they also played crowd favorites “Buried A Lie” “Bite to Break Skin” and “Can’t Be Saved” among others. The entire band sounded tight and polished, never missing a beat with guitarist Garrett Zablocki, drummer Dan Trapp, bassist Jason Black and new guitarist Zack Roach.
Being a true performer, Buddy definitely demanded a undeniable stage presence with energy that had him jumping around stage and he killed with his trademark growls on songs like “The Irony of Dying on your Birthday” and “Bite to Break Skin”. If I had to criticize any aspect of this show, it would have to be the clean, melodic vocals. Buddy is a phenomenal song-writer/performer, but he still needs to do some work with his higher notes in a live setting. The crowd was only too happy to fill in the lyrics for higher notes on songs like “Calling All Cars” and at times Buddy opted to pick the lower octave that he could hit with conviction. I did notice that Buddy kept futzing around with his ear-pieces so this could possibly be attributed to technical difficulties. Nonetheless it was a spectacular show that ended with hard-hitting songs like “Lungs Like Gallows” and teenage anthem “Can’t Be Saved.” With the final song “187”, a nod to their first EP From the Depths of Dreams, kids screamed along on cue “shot through my heart” when the instruments cut out for vocals, no doubt a highlight to the evening.
When the band left at the end of the night, the crowd at the front of the stage started chanting “one more song” only to have Buddy pick up the mic and say “There’s no more songs” followed by house lights killing the mood. It was a little bit of an anticlimactic end to a show, probably because this group of overzealous fans was expecting an encore. Hopefully since this was only the second show on the tour, some of the aforementioned details will be tightened up, but despite the flaws of the evening, the entire band delivered a phenomenal show and played just about all the songs that I wanted to hear.
Openers Balance and Composure, who have been compared to Brand New started the show off gradually with a slow, melodic emo set, gradually building in intensity which the crowd really responded to. Title Fight brought a faster, louder set with songs like “Symmetry” and “Loud and Clear”. With the welcome that band Bayside received, you’d wonder if they were co-headlining with Senses Fail. Kids sang along to songs like “Tortures of the Damned” and new song “Already Gone” as well as Weezer cover “My Name is Jonas”. What’s made this tour interesting is that Buddy Nielsen made it a point to mention that he actually likes the bands he’s touring with, which is no doubt in reference to some of the controversy surrounding their tour with Brokencyde. So, if you haven’t yet been to a “Out with the In Crowd” tour, pay attention to the openers, too as they are Buddy-endorsed!
Check out their full list of tour dates and purchase tickets here.