PHOTOS: La Dispute impacts with intensity and full-throated screams at August Hall

La Dispute, Jordan Dreyer

La Dispute performs at August Hall in San Francisco on May 3, 2019. Photos: Joaquin Cabello.

SAN FRANCISCO — Post-hardcore rockers La Dispute brought their Panorama tour to August Hall Friday night. With full intensity and cathartic screams, the Michigan band opened with “Rose Quartz,” off its latest album, Panorama. “Fulton Street I” followed, featuring Jordan Dreyer’s deep murmurs over a simple chord progression by Chad Morgan-Sterenberg and Corey Stroffolino. On “Fulton Street II,” Dryer’s voice almost broke over a mid-tempo groove, intensified by Brad Vander Lugt’s beats and Adam Vass’ deep bass lines.

La Dispute, Jordan Dreyer

La Dispute performs at August Hall in San Francisco on May 3, 2019.

La Dispute’s blend of hardcore punk and spoken word highlighted the introspective elements of emo. This was especially clear on the violently emotive “A Departure,” off 2011’s Wildlife, as well as “Stay Happy There” and “First Reactions After Falling Through the Ice,” both from 2015’s Rooms of the House.

The band built a mosaic of different rhythms and sounds throughout the rest of its set. Distorted riffs bounced back and forth between softer rustling guitars. Songs like “A Letter,” “View From Our Bedroom” and “Footsteps at the Pond” demonstrated La Dispute’s versatility.

Dreyer gave a shout-out to 924 Gilman, the Berkeley DIY nonprofit club. He remarked how important the venue remains for the hardcore scene and how it stands strong against capitalism. The band then dove back into more poetic and spoken-word-style material, which included “A Poem” and “Rhodonite and Grief.”

As Dreyer’s voice alternated between quippy spoken word and deep-throated screams, the frontman moved about, stirring up the emotional intensity until the very end. La Dispute ultimately closed with “A Broken Jar” and “Until I Die I Will Sing Our Names in Unison.”

Gouge Away, Christina Michelle

Gouge Away performs at August Hall in San Francisco on May 3, 2019.

Hardcore band Gouge Away preceded the headliners, led by singer Christina Michelle. The Florida quintet combined heavy and melodic riffs, which together burst with aggressiveness.

Continuing the contrast between sharp guitar lines and deep bass sounds, Gouge Away broke into songs like “Calloused,” “Fed Up,” “Wilt (I Won’t)” and “Ghost.” Michelle’s stage presence was extraordinary, living up to the chaos of the last few songs, especially: “Slow Drown,” “Stray/Burnt Sugar” and “Hey Mercy.”

Chicago rockers Slow Mass opened the show by blending soft sounds and dissonant chords. The band’s set was all about layering its sound over soft voices, which would then switch to unadulterated shoegaze with a lot of reverb. It was a blend driven by the intense dynamics with clean vocals on songs like “Suburban Yellow” and “Blocks.”

Follow photographer Joaquin Cabello at

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