After 13 years of evolution from post-hardcore rockers to sonically-adventurous, un-categorizable musicians, Orange County foursome Thrice recently announced an indefinite hiatus and embarked on a farewell tour with more than thirty stops. Time will tell if this is truly goodbye, but just in case, hundreds of fans piled into the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco on June 12th for a tribute that might mark the last of many Thrice shows at the classic venue.
After openers O’ Brother and Animals as Leaders finished up, the band’s four members, frontman Dustin Kensrue, guitarist Teppei Terranishi, and brothers Eddie and Riley Breckenridge, jumped on stage. Appearing a bit weary from the nightly goodbyes and overflowing emotions of the past month, Kensrue offered a classically humble, “Hey, everyone. We’re Thrice. It’s great to see you,” before striking the opening chords of “Yellow Belly.” And just like that the tone of the night was set. This wasn’t a time to mourn, and no sappy speeches would occur. In fact, the “f-word” of the “Thrice Farewell Tour” would hardly be mentioned whatsoever. It would simply be a night for the fans. The band took setlist requests via an internet vote beforehand, giving the adoring crowd exactly what they asked for: 23 songs from 8 major releases (only 1999’s introductory First Impressions was excluded). It was beyond fitting for a band that has maintained an intensely close connection over the years to the diehards who’ve followed them steadily.
Kensrue and Co. immediately jumped into fan favorites from their early heavier days, pounding through Vheissu‘s “Image of the Invsible,” The Illusion of Safety‘s “Kill Me Quickly,” and The Artist in the Ambulance‘s “Under a Killing Moon” and “Silhouette.” No matter how much their core sound has changed over time, Thrice hasn’t forgotten their hardcore roots. The intensity of Kensrue’s hoarse growl and guitarist Teppei Teranishi’s organized chaos of distortion sounded just as raw in the Regency’s cavernous chambers as it did in Orange County-area venue Chain Reaction’s muggy, claustrophobic shoebox a decade ago.
Thrice followed the homage to their origin by switching gears, showing off the detail and craft of recent releases Beggars and Major/Minor with “Circles,” “In Exile” and “Promises,” the masterful sorrow of Vheissu‘s later tracks with “Red Sky” and “Of Dust and Nations,” and then the diversity of 2008’s The Alchemy Index Volumes I-IV with a song from three of the four EPs that initially represented a natural element. “Firebreather” (fire) raged, “Daedalus” (air) soared, and “Come All You Weary” (earth) stood steady and gritty, rounding out the showcase of just how much they’ve grown.
While the the crowd appreciated the blend of each endeavor, in the end this night was a salute to not just the accomplishments of a powerful band but the steadfast love of a devout fanbase and Thrice went back to its earliest material for a raucous sing-a-long. Ambulance‘s “Stare At The Sun” and Illusion‘s “Deadbolt” and “To Awake and Avenge the Dead” put an exclamation point on the set’s conclusion, and the encore’s return to Identity Crisis for “Phoenix Ignition” and “T & C,” the band’s longtime anthem for closing out shows, brought the love-fest full circle. The guys were chanted back on for one last tune, appropriately Major/Minor‘s “Anthology” in which Kensrue cries “life’s built on tin cans and string / but the cornerstone laid is a wondrous and beautiful thing.” For Thrice fans, the band’s music has been a mainstay for years and this subtle yet passionate farewell evening was the perfect way to celebrate it as such.