With Cowardice, A Hope Not Forgotten, and To The Wind

 Date: September 9, 2012
Venue: The Vera Project
City: Seattle, WA, USA
Highlight: Seeing Defeater play “I Don’t Mind”.  There’s just something about watching Derek play on a broken acoustic guitar — the song is so heart warming and humble, the broken guitar only made it seem more honest.
Reviewed By: Lexi Mars

Wanderlust Boston locals, Defeater, have been on the road for what may seem like ages — or at least you would assume from their constant barrage of tour tweets and dates which litter their various social media profiles.  Dragging their particular brand of hardcore as distant as Europe, only to return to the good ol’ US of A for a short stint before jumping a plane to Australia.

Lucky for me, I was able to catch them as they passed through Seattle at the end of their tour with Hundredth, Silver Snakes and Rotting Out.  September 9th was their final show and they were playing the Vera Project, a personal favorite of Seattle venues.

As the tour had reached it’s conclusion, it had seemed as though the other bands on the bill hadn’t quite made it all the way to Seattle, instead I had the charming experience of being introduced to local Seattle talent.  Local talent who had quite the established fan base that is.  I was graced with the presence of Cowardice, A Hope Not Forgotten and To The Wind; all veterans of the Seattle hardcore scene.

Of course, I mean charming in the least condescending or sarcastic way possible.  Nothing brings me more pleasure than discovering talent that’s practically at my American doorstep.

Well, seeing Defeater brought me more pleasure, but that’s a no-brainer.

Bombarding the crowd with a barrage of bass, “Red, White and Blues” from their 2009 EP Lost Ground, couldn’t have been a better start to the night.  Derek Archambault’s desperately furious vocals and an obvious passion for performance violently grabbed the crowd’s attention and held them by their throats.  Spotted throughout the night around the venue, a slight framed young man with a shy smile, you would never imagine he was one in the same as the spitfire man now flailing on the stage.

An incredibly emotional performance, the boys flawlessly transition into “Dear Father” followed by “Blessed Burden”.  All three songs carried by a high tempo, drummer Andy Reitz had us wrapped around his drumsticks with impeccable timing and not even a single beat missed.  An interesting choice for them to start the show off with the first tracks from each album.  I’ve always been a fan of Defeater’s chosen method of establishing an album; killer riffs, heavy-fast bass lines and blasting drumbeats.  In my opinion, this also makes for a wise choice to initiate a show.  Between Mike Poulin’s cutthroat bass and Reitz’s beats, they sure had my attention.

“Soon the members of the band scattered off the stage, disappearing behind a black door.  Leaving Archambault by his lonesome with a broken acoustic guitar around his neck.  It was at this moment you could see the strains of touring as a hardcore band, it was in his eyes, in his posture…”

Or perhaps there was something else weighing on his shoulders.  Whatever it was, it had absolutely no impact on his voice as he serenaded the crowd with “I Don’t Mind”.  Everyone in the room (and for a hardcore show, there were quite a few girls providing their voices) was singing along.  I need to be THAT girl and let everyone know that yes, I cried.  This has only ever happened once before, at a La Dispute show during their performance of “King Park” — if you know the song, you understand and probably would have cried too.  So Archambault, I raise my glass to you, making me cry is no easy feat.

The band returned to the stage after “I Don’t Mind”, sitting silently as Archambault strummed and sang the first few lines of “But Breathing”.  Suddenly, the band came to life with the chorus.  With a rock-n-roll blues riff, Jay Maas and Jake Woodruff proved they really knew how to work their guitars.  The passion behind those chords gave the song new life; it was a breath of fresh air.  No pun intended.

Defeater rounded off the set with fan favorites including “Empty Glass” and “Waves Crash, Clouds Roll”.  An emotional roller coaster, the boys’ energy left a longing for more as they walked off the stage, more of what, the crowd didn’t quite know.  The mood was a feeling of slight emptiness and void.  The crowd was left speechless after the set, without even requesting an encore they slowly exited the venue.  Watching Defeater was a surreal experience, their performance captivated the heart and soul creating a sensation of profound sadness.

Don’t be mislead by my words, I in no way mean I was saddened or disappointed by their performance.  I was blown away that they were able to inspire such emotion in their audience.

“Defeater is a living reminder that poetry in performance exists, and that’s all you need to understand.”

Lex Signature


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