After being warmed up by Crooks (UK) and My Iron Lung (US), Boston-based Vanna kicks off their extremely energetic and intense set with the title track of their latest release Void, and it is with great vigour. They deliver an uncompromising mix of raw, groovy down-tuned hardcore with occasional pop-punk choruses – dominated though by the former.
Frontman Davey Muise is the star of the show and manages to conquer the entire stage despite his short stature. He is constantly bouncing around the stage, infusing the crowd with his remarkable energy. Supported by guitarists Joel Pastuszak (also performing clean vocals) and Nick Lambert, bassist Shaun Marquis and drummer Eric Gross, Muise’s colleagues manage to keep up with him until the very end. To the disappointment of more conservative fans, older songs have to give way for newer material, ‘Trashmouth’ from A New Hope (2009) being the oldest. But it is in their newer and orthodox hardcore-influence that they are at their absolute best; as soon as they venture into more melodic lands they lose their flow a bit.
However, they strike a perfect balance between the two and the set is concluded with the epic and emotional ‘Bienvenue’ while Musie respectfully pay tribute to the crowd, thanking them multiple times. A very decent effort filled with rage and emotion.
As soon as the Californians in Being As An Ocean hit the stage, it becomes evident that they are the main point of interest for the evening as the audience flocks around vocalist Joel Quartuccio as he screams the opening lines of ‘The Hardest Part…’ (a song otherwise expected to close a gig).
Although BAAO plays a fairly languid type of post-hardcore the show is at times very intense, with courtesy to the energy of Quartuccio and drummer Connor Denis. Quartuccio has a pathos seen in few frontmen and he delivers his melancholic and apathetic lyrics with an incredible ardour. The clean-singing sections are sung by rhythm guitarist Michael McGough.
The set is unfortunately plagued by several technical problems and this makes them look rather awkward at times. The colourful layers of guitar played by McGough and lead guitarist Tyler Ross – that is one of the great pleasures of BAAO on record – is being drowned in a clutter of noise caused by the deplorable state of Cathouse’s sound system. Despite this, they manage to re-energize in time for ‘Even the Dead Have Their Tasks’ and encore song ‘This Loneliness Won’t Be the End of Me’ and play these songs with greater passion.
There is also something intriguing about Quartuccio, he emanates a certain maturity and wisdom when he moves around the stage and interacts with the crowd. The crowd have an obvious appeal to his very sorrowful lyrics. This is the strength of the band what saves them from a poor performance.