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February 10, 2014 at 6:00 PM

Hardcore hopefuls Touché Amoré rage at Neumos | Concert review

Touché Amoré

L.A.’s Touché Amoré, pictured, performed live in Seattle Sunday. Photo courtesy of Deathwish, Inc.

Youthful aggression was on display Sunday at Neumos, where Los Angeles upstarts Touché Amoré delivered a blistering set of tightly-wound confessionals to a fervent all-ages crowd.

The quintet’s music is loud, fast and anthemic — but leaves space for prettier moments, too. Its mouthpiece is 30-year-old vocalist Jeremy Bolm, whose soul-searching lyrics ruminate on themes like maintaining friendships and relationships amid the chaos of touring life, and making sense of one’s own mortality.

Such über-earnest subject matter and delivery can exhaust sometimes, and those old enough to remember first-wave emotional hardcore outfits like Washington D.C.’s Embrace and Rites of Spring might dismiss the band as a retread.

Its live show, however, was concise and powerful enough to challenge non-believers, the chemistry between artist and audience making clear Touché means just as much to its fans as those groups did to theirs.

Setting up quickly and beginning a few minutes ahead of schedule, the band’s unfussy performance consisted of material from each of its three LPs, with an emphasis on its latest, 2013’s buzzed-about “Is Survived By.” (2009’s “…To the Beat of a Dead Horse” and 2011’s “Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me” are the others.)

Treating the 650-capacity Capitol Hill club like a basement a fraction of the size, Bolm used the entire room as his stage, sharing the microphone, surfing the crowd, feeding off its energy. The young men and women in attendance reciprocated, hanging on the wiry frontman’s every hoarsely-shouted word.

His cohorts — guitarists Nick Steinhardt and Clayton Stevens, bassist Tyler Kirby and drummer Elliot Babin — scarcely came up for air throughout the hour-long set, stopping only to tune as Bolm addressed the audience — the most enthusiastic they’d ever played to in Seattle, he noted.

While it may have been tough for the uninitiated to discern where one song ended and the next began, in punk, that’s a telltale sign of a tour-tested band. And though acts of its ilk aren’t known for their longevity, Touché, five years in now, appears to be just getting warmed up.

Openers mewithoutYou are comparatively grizzled, having existed since 2000. The Philadelphians’ roots are in heavy music, but their setlist Sunday ranged from agitated spoken-word to sensitive indie-folk and swaggering classic rock — even reggae-tinged pop, à la Sublime.

When a group defines itself by its try-anything mentality, it’s a slippery slope. What some would consider eclectic, others might call unfocused — and mewithoutYou, unfortunately, erred closer to the latter. Although showgoers received the five-piece with open ears, its genre-hopping exploits didn’t fully connect.

Comments | More in Rock/Pop | Topics: Concert Review, Neumos, punk


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