LIVE REVIEW: Circa Survive at Union Transfer in Philadelphia, PA (12/13/14)

There’s always something special about welcoming a band home after a long tour. One would think that this band (and the rest on the bill) would be worn out, deflated, and simply spent after a month and a half of straight touring. Circa Survive are not that band. Well, not that tired and exhausted band. They are, in fact, the band that Philadelphia welcomed home with open arms and strong voices at Union Transfer this past weekend.

Opening the latter half of the tour was Baltimore’s Pianos Become the Teeth, fresh off the release of their third, near-perfect record, Keep You. This was my first time catching the band after the record’s release and I was anxiously awaiting how the new tracks translated into their wild live show. While the cuts from Keep You are a calmer take on the rest of Pianos’ catalog, their set was as energetic as ever. Tracks like “Repine” and “April” fit in perfectly with how the band operates in a live setting. Pianos’ set consisted almost entirely of new tracks, save for “Hiding” from their 2013 split with Touché Amoré, and “I’ll Get By,” the shattering closer from 2011’s The Lack Long After. I hadn’t seen Pianos since the spring and I can easily say that it was worth the wait.


Next up were punk darlings and fellow Pennsylvanians Title Fight, whose set immediately erupted before a single note was even played. This sadly drove venue security to force all photographers to leave due to “safety precautions” so I had to shoot the band from the crowd. Needless to say, Title Fight still delivered, even from a distance. Opening with “Secret Society,” the band effortlessly bled into Floral Green opener “Numb, But I Still Feel It” and everyone in the building went–for lack of a better word–apeshit. Title Fight’s set consisted mostly of tracks from the aforementioned Floral Green, but they kept things exciting with tracks like “Blush” from last year’s Spring Songs EP and classic live staple “Symmetry.” A nice surprise was to see the addition of brand new single “Chlorine” to their setlist, which easily topped the studio version. Closing the set was the dreamy “Head in the Ceiling Fan,” of which the crowd approved with much cheer.

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Finally, it was time for my personal heroes in Circa Survive to take the stage. As expected, security repeated the already-infamous Title Fight fiasco (I’m still bitter) and kicked us out before opener “Act Appalled” was even halfway done. Regardless, Circa Survive easily put on the best show I’ve ever seen them play; and this is coming from someone who’s seen them fourteen times. Some could say that the reception of their new record Descensus is lifting their spirits, but it’s quite clear that the band are paving new, honest ground following the “reveal” of frontman Anthony Green’s recent life behind closed doors on tour. Green, now totally sober, was seen in his prime element: beckoning his flock to join him and his brothers in celebrating the evening.

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Circa Survive’s setlist was ideal and borderline perfect, containing some of the best tracks in their five-album catalog. Witnessing new tracks like “Schema” and “Only the Sun” solidified the fact that this is the strongest the band has ever been. It was wonderful to see personal favorites like “Fever Dreams,” “Kicking Your Crosses Down,” and “Stop the Fuckin’ Car” thrown into the mix as well. The band ended their set with “Child of the Desert,” which is easily one of the best songs of 2014, to much happiness and energy from the crowd they love so dearly.

It’s wild to think that a band that has been actively working for ten straight years is at their prime right now. Circa Survive are a pure example of a hardworking, matured band who have seen many roads leading to defeat, yet chose to build bridges above them. It is a primal, animalistic experience to witness Circa Survive, especially at this time, so you best be sure to catch them next time they invade your city.

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Review and photos by Connor Feimster
Check out more photos from the show on Flickr

Brian Leak
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