Circa Survive Sell Out the Fillmore Underground
The Amulet Tour lights up the basement venue
Writer: Stephanie Cunningham | Photographer: Darren Hohl
Despite the rain and cold, the line of fans outside The Underground on Friday night was chatty and energetic. Circa Survive is a band that has popped up in my circle of music over the years, on playlists and in friends’ cars, but I have never gotten a chance to see them. Their sixth and newest album, The Amulet, was released in the Fall of 2017. This is their second round of US tours for the album and the Queen City’s stop is the third to last and sold out.
I haven’t been to a sold out show at The Underground in a while, so it was nice to see a big crowd for the opening acts. Just past 7:30, the stage lights turned an eerie green and a matching eerie “ooh” began to echo off the stage. Out came Queen of Jeans, a four-piece from Philly who had a really cool look – like a mix of hippies, eighties hair bands and nineties grunge girls. On their website, the band describes their sound as “Crockpot Pop” and it is a funny, but accurate description.
Their songs ranged from mellow and harmonious to loud and heavy and I heard bits of all those decades in their songs. Overall their sound was much more mellow than the headlining act, but they had the audience mesmerized. Queen of Jeans ended their set with a very cool cover of Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody?” It was fun to look around as people began to figure out the original song, since it was familiar but so different.
Unlike Queen of Jeans, the next opener gave us no warning that their set was starting and came out on the stage like a flash of lightning. La Dispute opened with “New Storms for Older Lovers”, which is drum-heavy and fast. They were clearly a crowd favorite and everyone was going nuts. All around me, people were putting their arms around each others shoulders and pumping their fists in the air to the beat. Jordan Dreyer, the singer, spent time between some songs to talk to the audience; instead of disrupting the flow of the show, his words added to the energy. He yelled, “the world gets better,” and encouraged everyone to keep going no matter what comes at them. The audience was cheering and I was jumping around, feeling good and ready for the headliners.
In the break between La Dispute and Circa Survive, the audience was busy getting drinks and going outside on the patio to smoke. The merch guy was busy selling shirts; I even made it over to the Queen of Jeans table and bought a cool shirt with a Hermione Granger quote on it (yeah Harry Potter references!). All the movement stuck out to me because I could tell nobody wanted to miss a moment of the headliner’s set.
Circa Survive did not let anyone down. They opened with “Lustration”, off The Amulet, and their singer, Anthony Green, was like a mad man on stage. He jumped around, shaking his head- almost like he was possessed. Trying to get a picture of him on my phone was a struggle. During “Child of the Desert”, I was totally immersed in the song, even though I didn’t know any of the words. The song was sort of repetitive, but in that good rhythmic way that makes you forget where you are.
Despite Green’s wild stage presence, his personality shone through. He was constantly thanking the audience for being there and supporting – he seemed almost surprised that the show sold out. He told an anecdote from earlier in the night about meeting a fan with the song title “Battle, My Love” tattooed on his head. Green could not believe that the “crazy” guy tattooed those words on his skull and then dedicated the song to him. I love that he called out the fan and gave him the glory of recognizing his dedication to the band.
Besides the fantastic performance, the lighting and stage design might have been my favorite part of the night. The stage at The Underground is not big and the sets are usually pretty basic. Circa’s stage had about five or six monitors hung all over the back wall that showed different designs throughout the set. The really stand out design were the clear light bulbs that were all over the wall, in between the monitors. Lit up, they made you feel like you were in a cafe or maybe someone’s house and gave a really cool glow from behind the band. The big stage lights flew all over the audience during the really hardcore songs, in bright colors like hot pink, neon green and blue. It didn’t feel like we were in a basement anymore.
If you are in Philadelphia or Worcester, MA, I definitely suggest making it to one of their last two shows of the tour. The supporting acts and Circa Survive put on an outstanding show and I know that all the bands will be added to my Spotify rotation. Check out The Amulet, on Hopeless Records.