"March 29, 2009"

Converge - March 29, 2009

First Unitarian Church, Philadelphia, PA

I've seen lots of shows. I've seen lots of bands play their asses off. But I had never been to a Converge show. It turns out this was a serious ongoing error for an extreme music connoisseur such as myself. Playing to a sold-out crowd in Philadelphia's First Unitarian Church, the Massachusetts hardcore heroes lived up to their reputation as a dynamite live act. Jacob Bannon was an absolute maniac, bounding all over the stage while shouting and yelping his inimitable vocal style. How the man's throat hasn't simply exploded by now is beyond me. Guitarist Kurt Ballou (apparently taking a break from producing every other metal and/or hardcore album being released) was, for the most part, ice to Bannon's fire. He coolly slayed Converge's crossover guitar work, periodically exploding into his own fits of enthusiasm. As a collective, the band exuded more raw energy in one show than most other acts muster for an entire tour.

The tightly packed bundle of humanity that was the crowd responded to the band's intensity in kind. Stage diving, hardcore dancing, pitting and gang vocals were in superabundance. And things went positively nuclear when the unmistakable opening screech of "The Saddest Day" flared out of Ballou's stack. The sweaty momentum didn't let up until "Concubine" burned out, closing the show.

Converge gave the audience a taste from every phase of their career, even mining "Locust Reign" from "The Poacher Diaries" split with Agoraphobic Nosebleed. As an added bonus, they played two songs from their album that's coming out…sometime this year. But how about this for a highlight: Converge covering Entombed's "Wolverine Blues" with guest vocals from Himsa's John Pettibone! Talk about a metalgasm. All in all, Converge put on an outstanding performance. Consider my standards for live acts raised.