Show Review: Into It. Over It. @ Royale 4.21.16
by Reid Flynn (Accounting), published May 25th 2016
Trying to find a think piece on the emo revival that doesn’t refer to Evan Weiss as an “elder statesman” is decidedly difficult. You would think there are more original ways to discuss Weiss’ influence on reflective guitar music than lumping him in as the Grand Poobah of a bunch of bands that sound nothing alike. So of course, despite my protests, I found myself spending a night at the Royale watching him headline a lineup of bands that sound nothing alike.
The similarities between the openers may begin and end with a guitar, but each are nonetheless fantastic in their own right. A packed bill of Pinegrove, The Sidekicks, and The World is a Beautiful Place and I am No Longer Afraid to Die shuffled abruptly on and off the stage as their time came, reminiscent of the hastily organized DIY house shows their roots lay in. If you closed your eyes you could almost feel the breeze in the audience between sets like art students rushing back into the basement after a mid-set cigarette break.
Pinegrove set the bar high early. Evan Stephens Hall’s earnest storytelling and banjo-inflected introspections leapt out of debut Cardinal (my pick for album of the year thus far) with admirable stage presence and heartfelt gratitude towards the audience. The Sidekicks, decked out in bright red prison garb, followed up with an agreeable set of Springsteen-ian power chords, neither particularly captivating nor deterring.
The World is a Beautiful Place’s performance was troubling. I wanted to love it. 2015’s Harmlessness and its predecessor Whenever, If Ever are beautiful examinations of fleeting moments of sadness and triumph that seemed destined for a grandiose live performance. And yet, the vocals fell flat, the whole band sounded poorly mixed, and the crowd seemed nonplussed. The World is a Beautiful Place are the type of band where in the middle of a song, the stranger next to you will grab you by the shoulder and yell “this band saved my life!” into your ear before going back into a trance. Unfortunately there was none of this at the Royale on Thursday. Most of the crowd was left un-swaying and un-interested. Chalk it up to a bad night for a great band.
Following a bit of a sputter, energy was high in anticipation of Into It. Over It. Weiss’ backing band came out to confer a good luck high-five on their frontman before he launched into live staple, “Anchor,” solo with an infectious grin stretched across his face. For a band that recorded an album without guitar picks, and another comprised of one song per week for a year, Into It. Over It. puts on a gimmick free show. It was a straightforward exultation of a punk rock kid living out his dream on stage. The headlining set was a healthy balance of new songs off 2016’s stellar Standards, and tenured crowd pleasers. There was perhaps nothing more heartwarming than Weiss’ prefacing “Pinky Swear” with the story of him and an ex-girlfriend making a pledge seven years ago to pursue their art. Their recent mutual successes serve as a glowing tribute to the grit of the DIY spirit.
It was tough, but notice that I did make it entirely through this piece without directly calling Evan Weiss an “elder statesman.” It just feels insulting to apply and reapply the same mindless trope to him like chapstick. The truth is that he’s so much more to emo music. He’s a genial spokesman who has steadily carried the genre’s torch through its droughts and floods of popularity in the last decade with striking humility. To borrow a device from a favorite song of his, here’s a twenty two syllable endorsement: Into It. Over It. are a must see live show, and Evan Weiss is an emo legend.