Thrice made a triumphant return to the iconic House of Blues Anaheim on June 23rd and 24th, captivating their “hometown-crowd” for two sold-out nights.
These two nights served as a momentous celebration of two decades since the release of their legendary major label debut, “The Artist in the Ambulance” (TAITA). The band had recently revisited the album by re-recording and re-releasing all 12 songs in what might be their best-sounding album to date. It was only right to give the iconic album a proper tour, and that is precisely what devoted fans were bestowed.
The month-long tour (which has since been given an additional leg) started the band in sunny San Diego and took them to the East Coast, before ultimately returning to their roots in the scenic landscapes of California.
The opening act on the show was ambient-rock quartet, Holy Fawn. The band is led by guitarist/vocalist Ryan Osterman, who has incredible vocal range and dynamics, which was immediately showcased in the band’s first song, “Candy.”
Holy Fawn effortlessly navigates a diverse musical landscape, ranging from soothing shoe-gaze-styled vocal runs to explosive, blistering screams, offering a broad spectrum of musical flavors. The vocal responsibilities are shared with drummer Austin Reinholz, who delivers a mesmerizing performance, seamlessly balancing both roles.
Holy Fawn’s sound is further enriched by tastefully placed backing tracks and cinematic elements, enhancing their already massive presence on the live stage. I suggest any fan of Thrice check out their latest release, “Dimensional Bleed,” which is a 10-song rollercoaster ride of energy, beauty, and darkness. The impeccable songwriting, musicianship, and production quality on “Dimensional Bleed” immediately inspired me to go back and listen to the band’s older material. I was not disappointed. The band closed their set with “Seer.”
As the 2,000 capacity room began to reach its limit, the moment was almost upon us. Dozens of glowing, color-changing orbs dangled from the ceiling and stood upon waist-high tripods across the front of the stage that Thrice would be rocking just moments later.
At precisely 9 p.m., the house lights gracefully dimmed, setting the stage for Thrice to emerge amidst a captivating blanket of blue lighting. Without delay, they launched into their opening song, “Cold Cash and Colder Hearts.” Fans well-acquainted with the band’s re-recording of “The Artist in the Ambulance,” or their previous live performances, were already familiar with the subtle alterations that injected fresh vitality into these beloved songs, however drummer Riley Breckenridge’s “adjustments” are some of the first notable changes that make themselves pleasantly-apparent in the live setting.
“Hey everybody, thanks for coming out! We’re Thrice and this is ‘The Artist in the Ambulance,’” Kensrue announced before the band dropped into “Under a Killing Moon.” It’s tough to pinpoint a favorite off the album, but this might be mine, and it was met with a thousand voices and hands directed back toward the band.
With a serious demeanor, Kensrue wasted no time in reminding a handful of individuals about the significance of crowd surfing etiquette. “Let’s not be on our knees on people’s heads,” he urged, emphasizing that one could float on their backs instead. “You don’t need to get on your knees. That’s no fun for anyone.”
Seconds later, drummer Riley Breckenridge cued “All That’s Left” with that signature intro. If you haven’t experienced a live performance by Thrice yet, it’s worth noting that they consistently deliver nearly-flawless performances. This becomes evident during the almost-non-stop sing-along moments of “All That’s Left.” As the song ceremoniously reached those final moments, the thunderous chant of a thousand voices screaming “Can we be saved!?” echoed throughout the venue.
With three drumstick clicks and a single snare hit, they jumped into “Silhouette.” With crowd surfers in full effect, hundreds of light beams aimlessly danced across the stage from all directions. The energy levels reached a peak during the double-bass moments of “Silhouette.” As smoke geysers blasted thick white fog into the air, the crowd chanted back every word.
Following another reminder from Kensrue to “take care of each other,” a necessary sentiment given the presence of several overly enthusiastic individuals near me, the band gracefully transitioned into the captivating opening of “Star at the Sun.” The apparent crowd favorite winds down with Kensrue handing over the vocal duties to the audience in those final lyrics of the song.
Without warning, the effects-heavy intro of “Paper Tigers” began blasting through the speakers as the band jumped into one of their heaviest songs. The infectious aggressiveness of this scream-filled song spread from the stage to the audience like wildfire.
June 24, 2023
Much of the remainder of the setlist will be obvious to those familiar with TAITA however, “Hoods on Peregrine,” “The Melting Point of Wax,” “Blood Clots and Blackholes,” “The Artist in the Ambulance,” “The Abolition of Man,” and “Don’t Tell and We Won’t Ask” were all performed as well one of the albums two B-sides, “Motion Isn’t Meaning.” “Summer Set Fire to the Rain” from 2021, and the ever-popular “Black Honey” followed.
The next chunk in the set took fans back even further. Having just wrapped up the 20th anniversary shows for “The Illusion of Safety” just eight months prior, the band had little chance to get rusty on the next two songs. With zero hesitation the band jumped into “Where Idols Once Stood,” quickly followed by the crowd favorite “Deadbolt.” “The Weight,” “Yellow Belly,” and “The Earth Will Shake” were the final pre-encore moments of the night. With 20 songs down, I was curious to see how they would end the set.
An amazingly well-done version of The Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” featuring Dustin’s younger brother Chase Kensrue on keys, was the first song in the encore. Much of the crowd stood confused waiting for another moment of familiarity. That moment quickly came as the band closed out the night with “The Long Defeat.”
Thrice will head to Australia in August, then spend the fall touring the US, so look for them near you because you will not regret it!