Converge, Nile Theater, 10/30/12
Converge @ Nile Theater| 10/30/12
By Mike Bogumill
When trying to describe to people unfamiliar with Converge what kind of event I went to last night, I was hesitant to use a phrase like "metal show" or "hardcore show". While metal and hardcore certainly influence all the bands that performed, none of them have a particularly overt allegiance to any scene or subculture, although they may certainly appeal to their roots when the need to prove credibility arises. In truth, I went to a "heavy music" show featuring bands that occupy the liminal spaces between all the nerdy subgenres of punk and metal, liberally borrowing from them and celebrating their history, while at the same time appealing to people outside the diehard fanbases.
See also: Converge @ Nile Theater (Slideshow)
The headlining band, Converge took the stage and opened with "Concubine", just as intense of an opening track live as it was on 2001's Jane Doe. The energy was intense from both the band and the audience throughout the first few songs, but it slowed down quickly on the audience side of things. This revealed one of my main criticisms of the kind of heavy and chaotic hardcore that Converge has influenced, all the dynamism of weird time signatures and quiet and loud parts is easy to lose patience with when the songs go over three minutes. Converge got wise to this in their career and most of their later material is much more succinct, but they still play some lengthy jams that audiences can't always keep up with. The members of Converge however, have no problem keeping up with their own material live. They seem to be on some great cardio regimen, but also influenced by the power of positive thinking as exhibited by singer Jake Bannon's focus in his stage banter on "reversing the cycle of abuse and repression," and "leaving as little damage behind me". Oddly enough, a mic was broken during the course of the set.
Melissa Fossum See more photos in the full Converge @ Nile Theater slideshow.
The audience eventually got its wind back and moshed and stage dove to the rest of the set as I felt overwhelmed by the melange of influences found in Converge's music. It was certainly high energy, but there were too many points where I was thinking to myself "Oh, there's a stoner riff. Oh, that part's so metal. Oh, look at that blast beat." The complexity of Converge, the myriad reference points to the annals of heavy music, the thing that draws such large and diverse crowds to their shows is what slightly repels me. I drift much more to their straightforward songs such as the thrashy, Discharge-influenced track "No Light Escapes" on their split with Napalm Death, or the wonderfully moshy "Empty on the Inside" from their recent All We Love We Leave Behind LP. They played both and it made me think that I would have liked Converge better had they played a 15 minute set like other "weird' hardcore bands that play shows at houses and storage units. But, again, I was not at a hardcore show, but a heavy music show.
Converge is the Jay Z of heavy music. Guitarist Kurt Ballou produced the recent Kvelertalk and Torche albums among many other releases. Jake Bannon runs Deathwish Inc, a record label with an impressive roster of hardcore and metal acts. The band has done splits with Napalm Death, Agorophobic Nosebleed, and other notably aggressive bands. They have persisted in staying relevant in the eyes of purists while at the same time expanding their fanbase. Like Jay Z, they have proved many times that they run this game. But, just as Jay Z's immense fame and crossover appeal makes me yearn for the simplicity of up-and-coming MCs, Converge's presence on the stage of heavy music makes me yearn for the simplicity, as well as intimacy and sense of community, of a hardcore or metal show.