REVIEW: Circa Survive shares ‘The Amulet’ magic with the UC Theatre

Circa Survive performs at the UC Theatre in Berkeley on Nov. 13, 2018. Photos: Chloe Catajan.

BERKELEY — In ancient Rome, “lustratio” referred to the rite of cleansing and purification; it meant to be born again. Circa Survive put a spin on that when it brought “The Amulet” tour to the UC Theatre Tuesday. As the Philadelphia prog-rockers opened with “Lustration,” frontman Anthony Green began to sing in an isolated falsetto that rang throughout the venue as if personally calling to fans. The cut, off last year’s The Amulet, continued to build with a slow-burning intensity as the band came in with a syncopated rhythm.

Circa Survive, Anthony Green

Circa Survive performs at the UC Theatre in Berkeley on Nov. 13, 2018.

Circa Survive followed with “The Difference Between Medicine and Poison is in the Dose,” from 2007’s On Letting Go. Green let the crowd take the lead vocals for the first verse. Guitarists Colin Frangicetto and Brendan Ekstrom, bassist Nick Beard and drummer Steve Clifford spiraled into orchestrated chaos as the lights flashed. Green then jumped into the shrill chorus by leaping all over stage and swinging his microphone.

The quintet continued with a mix of songs from throughout its catalog. Older cuts included “Strange Terrain” (2010’s Blue Sky Noise), “Child of the Desert” (2014’s Descensus) and “Birth of the Economic Hit Man,” from 2012 album Violent Waves. The set would then loop back to The Amulet material like “Tunnel Vision” and “At Night it Gets Worse.”

While consistent in complexity, the run through Circa Survive’s discography explored layers of emotions via a range of sonic elements even more compelling live than on record. “Flesh and Bone” had a clean melody with pensive undertones. The dizzying “Stop the Fuckin’ Car,” from 2005 LP Juturna, induced crowdsurfing.

“I feel like for my whole life, coming here to California and performing; you’ve all spoiled me,” Green said, relishing the energy in the room. The band then cleared the stage for an acoustic rendition of “Act Appalled,” which Green dedicated to longtime fans who have attended Circa Survive shows “since forever ago.”

The band ended its first set with the hyperactive “Get Out,” and returned for a two-song encore consisting of “Battle, My Love” and “The Amulet.”

La Dispute

La Dispute performs at the UC Theatre in Berkeley on Nov. 13, 2018.

La Dispute preceded Circa Survive, performing a set packed with heart-racing energy and poetic earworms. The Michigan post-hardcore quartet jetted into “New Storms for Older Lovers.” The raucous cut was an evident fan favorite off debut LP Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair, which had just celebrated its 10th anniversary a few days earlier.

As the band moved on with “The Castle Builders,” vocalist Jordan Dreyer leapt offstage and shared the mic with fans who screamed along. He lost his shoe in the process, the first of what would be a few more times during the set. It recurred just enough for it to become a joke for the night.

Throughout the performance, La Dispute checked in on fans’ safety.

“Despite the differences we might have, I think it’s really important to have spaces like [shows]. If we all have our hearts in the right place and if we could all be inclusive and careful about the people around us, this could a spot where we all feel safe no matter what we look like or how we think,” Dreyer said.

La Dispute continued playing songs from its debut album and 2015’s Rooms of the House. The set also included two tracks off 2011’s Wildlife: “The Most Beautiful Bitter Fruit” and “King Park.” The latter cut, based on a true story about the accidental shooting of a child, elicited a thunderous sing-along.

Philadelphia’s Queen of Jeans opened the show with the lush harmonies of dreamy tracks “Won’t You” and “Sick Day.” Under blue lights, the indie quartet kicked off with soothing rhythms that later stirred into bursts of indie rock riffs.

After one song off its 2016 self-titled album, the group continued with cuts from this year’s release, Dig Yourself. “Bat Your Eyes” crescendoed into an ambient combustion, while “U R My Guy” had the swing of a solid doo-wop bop.

Calling all ’90s R&B fans, Queen of Jeans closed with a steamy and sonorous cover of Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody?”

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