Anberlin – Live at the House of Blues
Let me start out by saying that even though I’m already very familiar with Anberlin and their music, I was a little surprised by the turnout for the KROQ sponsored event at the House of Blues in Anaheim, CA this past weekend. So much so that by 7pm, I was already posting, “Definitely didn’t realize how big this band was” and “Who are all these kids?” on FaceBook. In any case, by the time I walked through the door, the venue was a little over capacity downstairs with no chance to move around. The last time I was at the House of Blues for a show with an audience this large was when Avenged Sevenfold played there, but that was a while ago and this audience was actually larger. The question for me was, “Would this show actually be better?” Yes, I’m comparing apples to oranges. But I think it has value since you can find music anywhere, but does good music from chart toppers actually translate into a good show? In this case, yes it does. Was the entire show including the opening acts good? Yes and no. The under card featured the bands Civil Twilight and Crash Kings. Let’s face it sometimes no matter how much the headliner profusely thanks their opening acts, it’s still a tough sell. Especially after you seen the acts and formed your opinion. Did I like the bands? Yes and no. I thought that Civil Twilight was a little too Emo and not enough spirit. And there’s really only so much I can take of watching statues play music. It wasn’t that they were bad, but their presentation needs polish - which I guess just standing there for much of the time just playing your CD isn't exactly how you earn it. No matter, where I thought Civil Twilight was lacking, I thought that Crash Kings was particularly good – a sibling rock trio fronted by brothers Antonio and Michael Beliveau that rocks with a piano, bass and drums. As far as piano rock goes, the band more closely resembles the White Stripes than it does Ben Folds in more ways than just being a family act. Tony’s Beliveau’s piano has been modified and is equipped with a whammy bar that modulates the notes to rock the keys much the same way that a guitarist would play the electric guitar. Tony boasted that he was willing to give lessons on how to play his piano contraption at a thousand bucks a pop. If that’s too high a price to pay, you can always buy their music. I highly recommend that you do. You can find their tunes on their website - http://crashkingsmusic.com - give “1985,” “It’s Only Wednesday,” and “Mountain Man” a listen as those are the songs that will surely turn you into fans. Besides the good music, they gave a heck of a show and you can’t go wrong with a band like Crash Kings who won points with me just for closing their set with Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs.” Circle Six had the pleasure of speaking with Stephen Christian while Anberlin was still in Europe - just before Dark is the Way, Light is a Place dropped. I’m not sure what I was expecting before finally getting an opportunity to catch Anberlin live. I suppose I was expecting a decent show, but I definitely wasn’t expecting such rabid fan support. Maybe it was partly that I was never giving them the credit they deserve. This is a band that has charted on Billboard several times over and that doesn’t happen unless people are buying what they have to sell them. And even though Stephen commented during the show about how quickly the Anaheim show had sold out, the real enlightenment came just by opening my eyes and looking around as the numbers that showed up to their show which truly did speak volumes. On a personal note, even though I got the opportunity to get acquainted with Stephen Christian the singer, Stephen Christian the philanthropist (who started Faceless International) in my interview with him - this show demonstrated who Stephen Christian the rock star was and why he is considered the face of Anberlin. But labeling this the Stephen Christian show is definitely not fair to the band. And Anberlin as a band is amazing. They're crazy and play at this frenetic and nearly relentless pace that really did silence me as a critic. As the crowd sang along to the tunes, I had no choice but to listen. Even as Stephen thanked the audience profusely and continued to encourage them to keep up their participation – I don’t think he needed to try that hard. They were into it. And by the end of the evening I was into it too. They played one heck of a show from the start of “King” through “Feel Good Drag” and with their unscheduled encore (at least unwritten encore since I stole a glance at the set list before the show started) “Fin” – they were as solid and as electric as bands can be. It was easy to see how they could gain such a huge following. It’s easy to see how they could continue for at least a few more years too. With the recent success Dark is the Way, Light is a Place, they aren’t showing any signs of suddenly becoming mediocre any time soon. If you haven’t had a chance, you should definitely check out our conversation with Anberlin here. You should also give the new Album a listen. I think it’s a great addition to an expanding catalog of hits that just keep coming from this band that came from Florida, but belongs to the world now.