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It has been 15 years since Thrice released its genre-bending album Vheissu. Ahead of its time, Vheissu showed the post-hardcore scene that melody, synthesizer, piano, and tender-voiced harmonies can be beautifully blended with the driving aggression of distorted guitars and discordant screams. Vheissu is Thrice’s most commercially successful album.
What were you doing in 2005? Driving to this show I was thinking of how my life, and the world, has changed since then. A lot has happened in the last 15 years. We have had three different presidents. Americans have been involved in a seemingly endless war in the Middle East. Major natural disasters have caused even the most ardent believers to wonder if there is a God. Americans watched as the economy collapsed, then slowly began to mend itself. All the while promising, “this will never happen again!” (spoiler alert… it’s happening again). The weight I have gained. The relationships that felt eternal, but ended up being fleeting. Friends that have come and gone, and the friends that have been at my side through it all. Throughout all of this, music has been an outlet of emotion that I otherwise would not be able to express on my own. Questions of doubt bubbled to the front of my mind. Would Thrice still resonate with me after all these years? Would the 15 years since I first picked up a copy of Vheissu have changed me so much that I wouldn’t connect with the soundscape that Thrice so daringly explored?
The moment had finally arrived. The crew trickled off the stage and the lights began to dim. As the crowd’s excitement came to life, Dustin Kensrue (vocalist/guitarist) stepped to the microphone and said. “We are Thrice. And This is Vhessiu.”
The unmistakable Morse code intro the song “Image of the Invisible” began to swell through the sound system. I felt a sense of nostalgia coursing through my body when the snare drum started the syncopated heartbeat to the song. Then entered the staccato strumming of the guitars, complementing each snare hit. When at last Dustin approached the microphone and began screaming his plea to the congregation of admirers….
“We’re more than carbon and chemicals
Free will is ours and we can’t let go
We can’t allow this, the quiet cull
So we sing out this, our canticle
We are the image of the invisible”
This is the moment I realized that 15 years may have come and gone, but this album’s lyrical themes are needed more now than ever.
From the beginning of “Image of the Invisible” to the final resonant chords of “Red Sky”, it was obvious that this album has aged like a fine wine. Finishing the journey of Vheissu, Thrice played several b-sides that did not make the initial album release. Playing “Weight of Glory”, “Lullaby”, and “Flags of Dawn”, it is obvious that Vheissu is a masterclass in poetry and composition. The performance was complete.
Or so I assumed….
With a sly nod to the audience, Dustin announced that it has also been 10 years since the band had released their 2009 album Beggars. Surprisingly, the band launched into songs off of that album (“Circles” followed by “Talking through glass/We move like swing sets”).
As unexpected as playing songs off Beggars was, I was not prepared to hear my favorite song from them, “Black Honey.” With it being a more recent release (2016), I had assumed it wouldn’t be on the setlist. It was perfect. The lyrical intent provides an apt metaphor for those of us frustrated by current United States foreign policy. The overwhelming intensity building up in the song caused the crowd to sing the chorus at the top of their lungs. Everyone’s emotions riding high mimicking the crescendo of the song. At the conclusion of the song, all instrumentation fades until only Dustin is left singing.
The band put down their instruments, bowed to the crowd, and exited off stage.
Wanting more, the crowd begins to chant “One more song” over and over like the spoiled children we once were. We needed more!
Thrice returned to the stage. They had one more in them. “Words in the Water”, off the 2011 album Major/Minor. A somber conclusion to the show, the lyrics convey the struggle of doing what is right, versus what you are told to do. After they finished the song, the house lights came on and a backing track began to play. It was officially over. A select few tried in vain to get another chant of “one more song” to erupt, but it was no use. Being ushered out of the venue you could catch snippets of conversations in the shuffling crowd. “That was awesome!” “Can you believe they played ‘Black Honey’?” “I wish they could have played longer!”
After two decades, 10 releases, one hiatus, and thousands of tour dates it is obvious that Thrice is still at the top of their game.
Thrice continues the Vheissu Tour throughout 2020. Make sure to get your tickets early, dates have been selling out fast. Check their website thrice.net, or Epitaph Records-Thrice for more information.