Incredible lighting featuring five 4×8 color-changing sequenced plates, three giant blasts of confetti, and oversized balloons bounding over the rabid audience…the show I saw at The Shrine Auditorium on December 28th was a spectacle even without the epic musical talent of influential ambient prog rockers Circa Survive.
Several weeks ago, I had the humbling opportunity to have a chat with Anthony Green, the group’s frontman, who was on the road supporting his first solo release. He mentioned how blessed he was and how his career was becoming bigger than he ever expected. He was right.
The show had already started when I walked into the Shrine Auditorium with openers The Dear Hunter, a well respected ambient prog band with a similar sound to Circa, already on stage. With six members (three guitarists, a bassist, a keyboard player, and a drummer), they achieved a full and rich sound that filled the Shrine more than they themselves seemed to expect. The singer appeared overwhelmed in between songs as the sold-out crowd of nearly 7,000 screamed their praises.
Their songs flowed from one to the next effortlessly like a tidal wave sweeping the beach. The groove that The Dear Hunter brought to the stage moved the audience heavily, with bobbing heads and swaying bodies aplenty. They warmed the crowd up perfectly for the shock we would experience next.
When the lights dimmed for Circa Survive, it was clear the proverbial “shit” was about to hit the fan. People pressed heavily toward the stage, forcing those who couldn’t handle it to leave the crowd the only way they could, by going up. Before the band even took the stage, people were fainting and being crowd-surfed out. It was kind of a mess, but in the most rock and roll fashion.
The members of Circa Survive took to the stage one at a time. Bassist, drummer, each guitar player, and finally, singer Anthony Green. They opened with “Sleep Underground,” a song from their Appendage EP. It would be that kind of night. The band’s setlist spanned their entire catalogue.
They followed “Sleep Underground” with the first song I had ever heard from them, ”Holding Someone’s Hair Back,” the lead-off track from their debut album, Juturna. Green’s signature high-range vocals cut through the dreamy yet chaotic wash.
As if it weren’t evident to the crowd by the massive crane hanging above them, Green announced after a few songs that the band was filming a live DVD. He explained how amazing their year had been, finding more success than they ever had. The sold-out show happened to be their largest headlining performance to date.
The show’s poster mentioned “special guests,” and it did not disappoint. As Circa Survive started performing “Glass Arrows” from their 2010 release, Blue Sky Noise, Jeremy Bolm from LA’s own Touche Amore came out to help with vocals. They played “The Glorious Nosebleed” a few songs later, ending with a shredding guitar solo by none other than Tosin Abasi from Animals As Leaders, touted as one of the best guitarists on the planet.
One song into the encore, roughly two dozen massive balloons dropped from the rafters and were bounced over the crowd for the remainder of the show. Between this and three huge bursts of confetti, I’d say fans got their money’s worth.
Circa Survive made the Shrine Auditorium rumble. It was incredible to be part of such a momentous occasion in their career after a great year. Congrats, Circa!
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