Sunday, November 30, 2008

Live: Thorns Of Life at Disgraceland, Philly 11.29.8


I'm as excited, if not more, than the average guy when it comes to the return of a band fronted by Blake Schwarzenbach. I bailed on the Underground Railroad To Candyland show that ended up being first unannounced Thorns Of Life show and fell for the red herring that the show was cancelled about the second show, so when I saw a snippet on line about a TOL show in Philly and knew I'd be passing through town, I was determined to see the show if I could. Cue three days of phone calls and shenanigans that precipitated my getting the address 45 minutes before the show, through the luck of friendly punks on the street. I understand that they want to keep Disgraceland under the radar, but the level of subterfuge that is going on for these Thorns Of Life shows is bordering on the ridiculous. I'm sorry, but when you have Blake Schwarzenbach, Aaron Cometbus and an actress from The L Word in one band, its going to be hard to keep things a secret for long.

I ended up squeezing my way in to Disgraceland, but as the place was three or four times past capacity and I was wearing a bag, there was no way that I was going to be able to shed my outerwear, making for a sweaty, sweaty time for me. Most of the rest of the crowd were in the same boat, although there were the odd pre-emptive 40oz and Natty Bo's scattered through the space. The space seems to be well run and the sound was decent enough, so here's hoping that they are able to keep the place going for some time to come.

The first band was Philly's own Restorations. Despite playing to a full room of people that really wanted to see TOL, they played a really good set of stuff that sounded like The Weakerthans or early Hot Water Music without so much shouting. They are evidently also 3/4 of the band Jena Berlin, if you're familiar. I'm not sure whether this is a project thing or a full-time band, but they are well worth checking out. Do that here.

I passed Blake going the other way down the street from the venue and was pleased to see that he was actually coming back for the set. The room was so full that the drums had to be passed over the crowd but the band managed to take the stage in short order. Shows have to be over by 10pm at Disgraceland and I couldn't be more excited about that trend. May that trend move to NYC with the quickness. Thorns Of Life took the stage by 9 and played ten or so songs that were pretty decent. Two of them, especially the one about NYC were exceptional. It was good to see Blake and Aaron. Both look older, but Blake was quick to point out that he is 41, so I'd say they've held up ok. The stuff is raw, yet melodic, more Jawbreaker than Jets, save for the song about losing his virginity. I'm told they are recording in the early winter or late spring. I'm not sure when or if they are going to grace us with a web presence, but if you hear, holler at your boy.

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