Review by Ryan Bright
This year Finch decided to embark on a 10th anniversary tour in honor of their breakout album What It Is To Burn, which seems to be all the rage with bands of their variety. While most bands use this type of show to bring their careers to an end or put an era of music behind them and move on, Finch however used this opportunity as a rebirth. Over the last few years, Finch had fallen off the radar with lackluster albums sales, unsuccessful tours and dreaded lineup changes. When they first announced this tour only two dates and locations were given, one being LA and the other London. I jumped at the opportunity to see them in their home town and purchased tickets immediately. With the overwhelming response and immediate sell outs, Finch added more shows. My friends and I decided to make a vacation out of this and also see them in New York and Philadelphia when they made their way to the east coast.
We arrived in California a few days before the show with enough time to catch up with friends and prepare ourselves for this highly anticipated performance. I’ve always wanted to see a show at the Glass House in Pomona, CA. As an east coaster, I’ve seen this venue on the tour itineraries of my favorite bands. On Friday February 1st the Glass House was electric; this hometown venue was alive. As soon as the lights dropped and the first notes of “New Beginnings” rang from the speakers, the place exploded. Finch took the stage with such vigor, like a band hungry to prove something. The thing is, What It Is To Burn Speaks for itself. They have nothing to prove, except maybe to themselves. The songs still sound fresh ten years later. The band sounded tight and the sound quality was great. With a long time to prepare for this night, I would’ve been seriously disappointed if the sound wasn’t on point. The lighting and production was the best I’ve ever seen Finch have and commemorative screen printed posters were a nice touch. I was very excited for Grey Matter and they did not disappoint. The energy was high and, with a fresh voice, the guttural screams were brutal. “Stay With Me” was as fun to hear and jump around to as it was when I was 16. All of the songs sounded phenomenal but a true standout for me was “Ender.” I nearly cried. “Ender” is a beautifully crafted song and not the typical heavy post hardcore sound. It’s a soulful ballad that anyone can relate to. It brings you to a time when you are fighting for a loved one, whether it worked out or not. They ended the show with “What It Is To Burn,” obviously. By this point of the show, I was exhausted. I hung out in the back and just enjoyed the final few moments of what was an incredible night.
Fast forward a little over a month later, Finch made their way to my neck of the woods. I decided to attend their second night in NYC at the Gramercy theatre. The Gramercy is a smaller, more intimate venue with what I feel is a better setup than Irving Plaza, where they played the night before. When I walked in, it felt like I was attending a local VFW show on a Saturday afternoon. There was no one there. When the opening band The Almost took the stage there was no more than 150 people inside. The only thing I could wrap my head around was the fact that the night before was sold out and this show wasn’t nearly as promoted as the previous night. I didn’t mind though because I had a fantastic spot to view the show from. When Finch took the stage, the placed filled up but not to capacity. This show was good but didn’t have the energy that the Glass House did. There was no action in the pit but people were singing along and looked generally pleased. The band was obviously a little intoxicated and joked about it onstage. Some of the songs were a little sloppy, especially the ones with intricate picking patterns like “Post Script.” The band also seemed a bit tired, possibly from not being used to the life cycle of a touring band. The lead guitarists’ effects were also not set properly which also did not help the overall sound of the show. I mentioned these things to my friend who doesn’t play an instrument and she didn’t even notice. I was a little more critical of this show because the last show stellar. The set was exactly the same and we left a little early because working people can’t stay out late on week nights.
Two nights later, I drove down to Philadelphia to catch Finch play at the Electric Factory. The Electric Factory is a great place to see a show, especially if you are of legal drinking age because the balcony bar has great sight lines and a wide selection of beers. The Almost opened this night as well and had a little bit better of a reception than they did at The Gramercy. I was surprised at the lack of response for The Almost. Given that they had two videos on MTV2 from when they still showed videos, I would’ve at least expected a nice amount of cheers, but alas lackluster to say the least. I enjoyed them and thought they had great sound and band chemistry. Finch took the stage in the same fashion as at The Glass House, apparently sober and hungry to show that they still have it. The crowd was feeling it; sing–a-longs, hugs and high fives were abundant. The sound on the floor wasn’t so good, but the energy of the band and the crowd definitely made up for it. “Awake” and “Three Simple Words” were especially tight and a true gems of the evening. Once again I realized that I’m too old for the pit and headed to the balcony with my cousin. We watched the remainder of the show, from “Ender” on, from the balcony with fantastic seats because some other folks decided what I did the night before, to bounce a tad early. Finch ended the show with “What It Is To Burn” and we made our way into the Philly night to make drunken messes of ourselves on Saint Patty’s Day weekend.
I’m glad I went to all three shows. No band is perfect and every show won’t be a 10, but 2 out of 3 isn’t bad, and who can argue with that? It was nice to see the band having fun and you could tell they were from the banter on stage. For a band that teetered on the edge of self-destruction several times, it seems like they put the past behind them in an attempt to move forward. I mean the bad past not the good past which is What It Is To Burn. That flame will burn on way into the future whether they remain a band or not.