In the early 2000’s, as hard music withered on the vine, there were certain bands I was completely convinced I would never see together again… the Misfits classic lineup, Into Another, The Pixies… and Quicksand. While Into Another and the Misfits have had success and the Pixies started strong but then quickly derailed into a Kim Deal-less mess, I was somewhat skeptical of ever seeing a new Quicksand tour and record in a world where only Adele and Taylor Swift seem to make money selling music. And while, undoubtedly, frontman Walter Schreifels is a special talent and dear songwriter to so many, he moves between more bands than Hillary Clinton does political positions. Whether or not he carries hot sauce in his bag with him… I do not know. What I do know is that Quicksand is one of the most important bands in the post-hardcore world. Check that – THE most important band. And as a Youth Crew listener from when you could trade toilet paper for tapes at Danbury’s Trash American Style, I will admit that I was more than crushed at the original demise of Youth of Today and Gorilla Biscuits. When Quicksand released their original EP on Revelation Records I didn’t know what to make of it. It was completely foreign yet, at the same time, somewhat familiar. It was an enigma.
While Youth of Today and Gorilla Biscuits were direct in their words and music, Quicksand was ambiguous. There was little effort one needed to decipher Gorilla Biscuits, but understanding Quicksand took work. This was one of the key differentiators when it came to post-hardcore – interpretation. And while many bands kept the hardcore flame burning long after the demise of the Youth Crew bands, a post-hardcore Walter represented a sharp turn away from the direct pathway to the audience towards one the was a bit more in the clouds.
It’s important to note that lead guitarist Tom Capone had to leave the tour early because of personal reasons. This meant that Quicksand had to continue touring as a three piece. Certainly people were skeptical as Capone’s guitar is a key ingredient in the compositions, but they were, at the same time, understanding. These things happen in our lives. Clearly there were some awkward sections in songs where we expected a guitar solo or particular passage that wasn’t there, but in reality, nobody really seemed to mind and Walter and Sergio gave the crowd a smile indicating, “yeah, we know.”
Thankfully this sold out show was at the venerable Union Transfer, one of Philly’s best music venues. A venue who understands that “sold out” shouldn’t mean “pack as many people in as you can and don’t worry about any type of desire to move” and that security people can actually be nice and respectful of patrons. Voltage Lounge, a few blocks over, should send some of their folks over to Union Transfer for training. Seriously.
The band ripped into “Fazer” from the Slip record – perfect opening. They immediately tore through a number of fan favorites from the aforementioned debut LP such as “Head to Wall” and “Freezing Process.” They took a bit of a breather with a couple of songs from Manic Compression and then went into to their song “Illuminati” from their upcoming Interiors record that’s soon to be released on Epitaph. It was good to hear the songs from Manic Compression without the awkward bass levels that appear on the record.
It’s apparent from the performance that these guys are doing this because they want to have fun and really enjoy playing these songs. Walter was bouncing back and forth, hair whipping from side to side. Sergio performed similar hair-whipping with his blonde locks. Alan did his best Larry Mullen keeping down the beats on the kit – maybe looking up once or twice. Walter and Sergio kept giving smiles to each other and to the crowd who clearly loved every song even if some of the leads were missing.
Certainly some will be concerned as some of the compositions have been altered a bit for a three piece but few, if any, will care all that much. It’s difficult to overshadow the pure joy that the band are emanating on this tour. Overall the sound was quite good, the band doesn’t play overly loud, which is quite welcome. And yes, there was a bit of “moshing” in the “pit” at the show, but, justifiably, nobody attempted to recreate the Superbowl of Hardcore.
If you get the opportunity, definitely go see Quicksand. While many of the shows are sold out, there are still some tickets available at some of the smaller cities. I would hope that the band does a second US leg after the release of their new record. If so, I’m looking forward to seeing them again. They had some new merch on this tour I had never seen before and is worth checking out.
Now, I’m simply going to use this last bit of space in this review to suggest the following:
Post-hardcore dream tour: Hot Water Music (Playing No Division complete), Quicksand, Into Another and Elliott (U.S. Songs lineup) opening.