by Jennifer Keller
To celebrate the ten-year anniversary of their debut album Juturna, Circa Survive recently embarked on a nationwide tour. The tour began on October 23rd in New York, New York will wrap up on November 28th in Saryeville, New Jersey. I saw them when they came to The Ogden Theatre in Denver on November 4th.
At the Denver show they had two supporting bands, Citizen and RX Bandits. Although I found the supporting acts to be something of a strange fit for Circa Survive, the show, overall, was good. Citizen played first. Having never really listened to them before, I was unsure of what to expect. Their setlist was about half and half split between their new album, Everybody Is Going To Heaven (2015) and their first full-length release, Youth. (2013) The songs in the beginning of their set from their 2015 release were heavy and droning, to me the style seemed like a nod to nineties grunge music. While watching them perform I remember thinking that the guitars reminded me of Title Fight’s Hyperview, due to their dark yet borderline shoe-gazey style. Later on in the set they reverted to their older songs from Youth, playing their most famous song, “The Night I Drove Alone.” The set was solid, with an understated energy.
The tone of the room completely changed when RX Bandits came on. Many of the fans in the crowd seemed to have come for RX; the thirty something year old couple next to me sang nearly every word. This could partially be due to the fact that the band formed in 1995 and has been releasing music somewhat consistently ever since. Their set was very upbeat and raised the energy a lot; more people started moving around and many people sang along. Their set was more lighthearted than Citizen’s, the lights were colorful and their songs were upbeat, somewhere in between ska and reggae. They used a really cool twinkly organ sound, which I loved.
Near the end of their set, Anthony Green from Circa Survive made a guest appearance and helped singer Matt Embree finish singing one of the songs. This, understandably, made the audience go wild. I think we were somewhat disappointed when Green finished the song and returned backstage until RX was finished. Their set was much longer than Citizen’s was, but it was well received.
When Circa Survive came on, there was a collective feeling of relief and excitement in the room. The band brought three of their own light fixtures to use on the stage in addition to the lights The Ogden already had going. This proved to be a very visually pleasing setup; the three fixtures they brought were intricate and circular shaped. Their stage was colorful and lively. I may have been the youngest member of the crowd, since I was only eight when Juturna was released, but it t seemed to me that almost everyone in the audience was highly familiar with the album as if it was an old favorite. Anthony Green and the rest of the band were extremely well rehearsed, as one should expect from an anniversary tour. His voice sounded good, he sang well and put forth great emotion and energy, yet still stayed true to the sound of the original recordings. The majority of the crowd sang along throughout each song from Juturna, Circa Survive played the album in its entirety.
Green mentioned that he couldn’t recall the first time the band had played in Denver, but he assured us in the crowd that he knew it wasn’t as awesome as tonight would be. Possibly poking fun at the fact that Colorado has a reputation for being a bunch of environmentalist stoners, Green taunted us partway through the set, inviting us “Fucking hippies” to “snake dance.” At one point in the nearly flawless set, a song ended and the stage went dark. When the lights came up again, clear beach balls with flashing glow sticks inside were released into the crowd from either side of the stage. About twenty or thirty of these started pouring into the
audience, and this excited everybody. They looked like magic bubbles, and everyone was eager to bop one. Green was playful with the crowd; he kicked the beach balls back to us whenever they were in his reach. The band had more tricks like this one; at one point confetti cannons exploded into the audience in perfect synchronization with a scream from Green. It was clear to me that Juturna was a well-loved album, both by Green and his band and by the audience members who screamed along with him the whole way through. Their performance was flawless, and in my opinion was a great way to honor their first album.