By ELI JACE >
In 2002 Thursday played the Nile Underground in Mesa, Arizona.
It’s a cave of a basement, underneath the main Nile Theater venue. Then, the band’s second album Full Collapse had just been released on Victory. The video for the single, “Understanding In A Car Crash,” made MTV. The secret was out. The cramped space was flooded with people. I was up front with a group of friends when the band stepped onto the one-foot platform and the crowd pushed us all forward. A few of us ended on stage, smashed up to the side into the amplifiers. Steve Pedulla, the rhythm guitarist, leaned in before the first song and told me, “Just don’t step on these pedals.”
Everyone was ecstatic. Thursday was spry, impactful with every note. It almost felt like they were unsure of this weird notoriety culminating. Four albums, three (at least) hiatuses and two reunions later, and Thursday are back playing the main room to a rabid audience.
The band ambled up, and after them vocalist Geoff Rickly scootered to the front with an uneven shuffle.
Having recently broke his foot he was constrained to two wheels with his gimp leg kneeled up, but was adamant the show go on. “We need this,” he said, and you could feel the pent up emotion in the response. A two-year disruption in the touring cycle was a reminder of all that’s changed since 2001.
The Thursday tour was originally slated to take off in 2019, always with Cursive, but later adding Appleseed Cast and Nate Bergman as openers. The pandemic said no. Two years later and it was almost derailed again with COVID outbreaks and the broken leg. “For the Workforce, Drowning” was the first song and from there it was all movement. Even though Rickly couldn’t waltz around stage, he had his hand gestures with the microphone cord going and still thrashed. The crowd were pulling notes from every string, drumhead, cymbal, and vocal chord. Tucker Rule commanded his drum set, marking every fill and drum roll with expert precision. Years of touring have allowed them to transfer their songs from album to the stage flawlessly, with extra force.
The setlist heavily favored Full Collapse and War All The Time.
“Standing On The Edge Of Summer” was a highlight, and “Jet Black New Year” off the EP Five Stories Falling came in hot. The centerpiece of the night was “This Song Brought To You By A Falling Bomb.” Every instrument dies down. The band steps away leaving Rickly’s voice to take over, its natural echo repeating the refrain, “a falling bomb…” Before diving into “Understanding In A Car Crash” Rickly made a joke about hearing the song at an Emo Night near you. The laughter was almost painful. When the two snare cracks start the song everyone falls back in time and performs their own karaoke.
The final song was their second biggest hit, “War All The Time,” off the major label debut.
Their third full-length, War All The Time, came out in 2003, the year the US enforced their own unprovoked invasion of Iraq. On this night in late February, as Russian troops were amassing on the Ukrainian border bent on eventual destruction, the song held an aching clarity.
The tour would finish March 13 in San Antonio, Texas with shows in Pennsylvania, DC and New York getting cut to allow for Rickly’s leg to heal. Rickly will play a few acoustic shows at the beginning of April on the east coast, presumably sitting down.