Eleven years after its start, 10 years since its debut album
(named for the Roman goddess of wells and springs), Doylestown's Circa Survive continues to be a harbinger of wordy, experimental, pop-hardcore, with heartbroken emotionalism and sometime-silly philosophical conceits as its twin-towering guides. Anthony Green's powerful, whiny voice and stream-of-consciousness rants, together with Colin Frangicetto's jiving, jackhammering guitars, all but defined the 21st century's shift in hard-emo's tone from broke-down and busted to brilliantine and bristling.
Forget Circa Survive's knotty, prog-rocking rhythm section at your peril. It is this harrowing, still-hungry sound (their most recent album was 2014's Descensus) that continues to define the ensemble that packed Electric Factory on Friday for a gig celebrating Juturna's 10th anniversary with punk-pals Citizen and Rx Bandits in on the party.
It was as if Peter Gabriel-era Genesis merged with Sunny Day Real Estate when Circa Survive rammed its way through the halt of "Holding Someone's Hair Back" and the rhythmically quixotic "The Great Golden Baby." Equally utopian and extravagant was Green's lyrical take on humor and denial during "Golden Baby," when the vocalist hollered "I've been trading ideas with intriguing men, and I perceive an honest solution to all of your pride," in that high whinny of his.
Green's bray and nay was in full effect too through the flanged metal crackle of "The Glorious Nosebleed," words moving like a runaway buck through its overheated, contagious melody and jazzy hardcore rush. "Look how high I'm jumping from, you'll never make it . . . This sort of thing gets you out of mind right before impact." Even when its tunes weren't particularly catchy ("Wish Resign"), Circa Survive, as a unit, had kiddish attitude on its side.
It wasn't exactly a sense of swagger that the band had - or used to convey aggression - during "As Always Getting What You Want" or the flange-heavy "Act Appalled." Rather, Green & Co.'s confident stridence portrayed youth at its cleverest, touched by the messed-up allure of the outsider.
Green even pointed that out before the oversized balloons fell from Electric Factory's rafters. "I feel as if I'm a 15-year-old again, being here," he said, enthusing about the venue's longevity as well as Circa Survive's connection to its past and that union with its nice and nerdy fans. "If you see a chubby, 15-year-old out there in the audience, be nice to him."