Defeater Brings Hardcore to Lansing | Concert Review

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Defeater Brings Hardcore to Lansing | Concert Review

Ian Wendrow

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I would make a terrible stress relief counselor. As the week gets rolling and we approach finals week for many of us here at MSU, quite a few friends of mine decided to unwind with bar crawls and copious amounts of shenanigans. Seeing as I did not have enough money to buy decent booze or have any parties lined up, I figured the best way to let go of the mounting anxiety was to mosh like the fury at The Loft, where Defeater was coming through on their first headline tour.

I got into Defeater in early 2008, right after they dropped their debut album Travels. Like a lot of other music critics, I was blown away. Aggressive and energetic hardcore wrapped up in a concept album undertaking a character study of nameless, impoverished Americans? Phenomenal, even more so because Derek Archambault’s lyrics could tell an entire story through simple imagery. The rest of the band works well in sync with Archambault, mainly because the band understands the value of dynamics; taking lengthy passages of acoustic guitar playing or slowed down, almost post-rock sounding moments to emphasize dramatic moments on their albums.

Yet hearing this play out on an album, where production allows one to tweak the sound of every cymbal hit and guitar strum to have the right amount of punch, is quite different than a live setting.

In the small venue of The Loft, right down Michigan Avenue in front of the Capitol Building, I was able to get right up close to the stage and be within arms reach of the various acts that night. I was late to the show and missed the first opening group but managed to catch the last couple songs from Capsize, a hardcore act all the way from San Diego, who put on brief, but powerful set. A good number of crowd-goers seemed to be big fans of the band, so the moshing was surprisingly intense during their set. Sadly, the band seemed to tire out quickly, and the vocalist ended up handing over the mic to the crowd more and more as their set closed out. I can not blame them, they must have been wrecked from the lengthy driving but, nonetheless, they put on an admirable performance.

The next band was Counterparts, another hardcore group I was rather fond of. Much like Capsize, it seemed a sizeable portion of the crowd came to the show for them and so the stage diving, headbanging, and group shouting was far more intense. The band matched with equal energy as their vocalist thrashed around the stage and came real close to the edge of the stage again and again. With each song he would stop and tell us all to sing along if we knew. Many a time he would be screaming directly into our faces and it was glorious. Most of their set consisted of songs from their most recent record The Difference Between Hell and Home, but they threw in an unreleased track from their forthcoming album and closed out with their most popular track, “The Disconnect”. Stage diving ran rampant throughout the song.[su_pullquote]“Watching Defeater felt like viewing the band in a rehearsal, goofing around and letting out moments of catharsis that they happened to be sharing with us.”[/su_pullquote]

By the time Defeater rolled around, I was not sure if the crowd had worn themselves out on the previous acts or if the setlist was more mellow (relative for a hardcore band), but the show was far more focused on the band. This was great, considering the band had amazing chemistry on stage. Jay Maas, one of the guitarists, leaped into the crowd at one point and made goofy faces throughout his set. Archambault and Joe Longobardi, the drummer, had little exchanges back and forth that were equally as humorous. The intimacy of the band members was great to see live and it made the show much more personal than Counterparts’ which, despite the intensity, felt very much like seeing them at a concert. Watching Defeater felt like viewing the band in a rehearsal, goofing around and letting out moments of catharsis that they happened to be sharing with us.

In all, Defeater’s headline tour was a rousing success for their stop in Lansing. The Loft’s small-ish space made the moshing far more personal and involving as people helped each other onto the stage and caught stage divers. Each band brought plenty of energy and expressed over and over their appreciation for their fans.

I could not have asked for a better outlet as we move into this stressful week. Hardcore will never die, and it should not with great bands like Defeater and Counterparts bringing this level of energy to the music scene.