After Pianos Become The Teeth concluded their ninth or tenth or thereabouts song of the evening (February 21), said g’night, and left the stage at Great Scott, a rare moment of tranquility fell upon the typically buzzing institution. The chunk of the at-capacity audience clustered in front of the stage stood expectantly, but spewed forth no chants for “One More Song!” or any of the standard conjolements like “Whooooo!”, “Yeeeeeeeah!”, “Raaaaawk!!!”, or whathaveyou.
Now, nobody made the slightest motion to turn around and head home, either. There was never any doubt that more songs were, in fact, totally warranted. The Baltimore quintet understood this, and promptly returned to dispense, “Blue” and “Charisma” off their freshest gathering of tracks, Wait For Love.
It was as if the audience collectively thought, “We don’t want to waste our energy yelling for you to come back out when we know you’re going to do that anyway,” and Pianos Become The Teeth thought, “Sounds great! For prioritizing common sense over pointless tradition, we shall reward you with more fun music!” After acts spanning genres and generations have spent decades gradually ritualizing encores into the convention we know them as today, this apathy towards stupid, silly formality shared between a band and their crowd gave me hope for a future when obligatory encores will no longer be a thing.
As was noted elsewhere, Pianos Become The Teeth’s Allston endeavor attracted a disproportionate amount of dudes with an evident affinity for sensible, unassuming cold weather garb, and who also hadn’t shaved or combed their hair in a little while. As has also been noted, Kyle Durfey destroyed his own larynx during pretty much every song when Pianos Become The Teeth emerged in the ‘00s, but had shifted to a melodic approach before it came time to record 2014’s Keep You. But I dunno if the band ever changed the totality of its style all that much? The guitars on Wait For Love are certainly very pretty guitars, but the guitars are also pretty on the rigorously-screamy “Good Times” from 2011, and the mildly-screamy “Hiding” from 2013; both tunes that made Wednesday’s setlist.
But the present took precedence over the throat-annihilating past on this, the first tour date of this particular album cycle. Durfey mentioned that an unspecified portion of the songs had not previously been performed in public. Could’ve fooled me. Even as recently as a few nights ago, I saw an audience for the way better-established American Nightmare sit on their hands whenever the band played a new, and therefore unfamiliar song. Yet Pianos Become The Teeth’s throng triumphantly howled along to the chorus of “Fake Lightning,” and this vaguely-jock-ish sorta guy standing next to me clearly knew all the words to “Bitter Red.”
I don’t know if that means Wait For Love is better than American Nightmare’s new album, or if it’s easier to understand, and therefore memorize lyrics when every syllable is not screamed as harshly as possible.
Of course there are options besides singing or screaming. Andy Norton of Praise deploys conversational vocals that allow his band to fortuitously remind me of Fugazi during their angular songs, and unfortunately remind me of Pennywise during all their blast beat-y parts.
I’m not convinced warming up a crowd who showed up to hear out-of-state emo bands is the right job for Dreamtigers. The sonic wares of this Beverly outfit feel better suited for listeners either preparing to, or in the process of, climbing a mountain or going on a hike.
Barry is on Twitter, unfortunately. Follow ‘um @barelytomson.