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On the home stretch of a 28-city tour to support their latest album, Horizons/East, Thrice brought their innovative rock act to San Diego Wednesday night at Observatory North Park.  Unlike many bands where I lean with a preference to earlier works (e.g., Aerosmith, Def Leppard, U2), Thrice is the exact opposite.  They have aged like a fine wine into one of the better post millennium rock bands around.

Debuting 20 years ago with a raw post hardcore punk screamo style (think Rise Against or Thursday), Thrice eventually gained critical acclaim (and more of my attention) by evolving into a refined mature deeply creative experimental alt/hard rock band.  Their uniqueness now is their strength but perhaps a weakness as far as achieving breakthrough commercial success. 

Thrice chose to open the show with “The Color of the Sky”, the first song off their new album.  It’s an interesting choice, beginning quietly stripped down with only a mellow electronic loop and lead singer/guitarist Dustin Kensrue’s emotional vocals.   As the second verse began, the powerful rhythm section of brothers Eddie (bass) and Riley Breckenridge (drums) bust in loudly to immediately raise the energy level.  Kensrue, the heart and soul of the band, croons with an immediately identifiable raspy clean voice:

“And as I made my plans, My head would spin and swiftly dance between the whys, Like why the roads were all dead ends, Why we'd no word to name the color of the sky”

Finally, guitarist Teppei Teranishi adds the final climatic sonic touches to move the song to peak momentum.   The second song was “Scavengers”, my favorite track off the new album, draws on the core band’s strength and “sound”.  It’s a slick atmospheric mid-tempo rock jam with layers of great guitar work while Kensrue’s soulful vocals are complimented nicely with harmonies by Teranishi. 

The band understandably played six songs off their new album.  Thankfully they played perhaps their strongest song, the eerily dark, dynamic and mesmerizing “Black Honey” (51 million streams on Spotify) off of their 2016 album, To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere.   Hearing this song delivered so musically tight and with such emotional power was my personal highlight of the night. 

Thrice’s live performance is simple – they just play and rely on their musicianship and strong catalog of songs to win over and connect with the audience.  There are no radio hits, not much band interaction with crowd, no charismatic egotistic front man antics, no band members jumping around all over the place.  That just isn’t the Thrice style.  However, the packed Observatory North Park crowd, average age around 30 years old, was clearly and completely tuned in to the music digging what they were hearing.  Check out Thrice’s new album, Horizons/East,  and check your own horizon for a potential Thrice tour stop in your area.

Rock on and be well!

Greg Vitalich

Greg Vitalich

Photojournalist - San Diego

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