SAN FRANCISCO — Last year, post-hardcore luminaries Quicksand and Glassjaw released albums for the first time in more than a decade. Their return was followed with the announcement of a co-headlining tour, which made its Bay Area stop at the Great American Music Hall Tuesday.
Quicksand took the stage in the midst of last-minute soundchecking. While attending to his guitar, vocalist-guitarist Walter Schreifels threw some banter at the crowd right from the start.
“I got this Buddy Holly sound going on right now,” Schreifels said as he adjusted his instrument’s tone. “Oh, there it is; there’s that rock and roll sound.”
With everything all set, the New York City band broke into “Freezing Process,” a slow burner that suddenly intensified through melodic distortions and heavy-grit riffs. The live version wove whimsically melodic adlibs into the intro, which tinged the 1993 single with an even greater sense of nostalgia.
Before moving forward, Schreifels greeted the San Francisco audience again and mentioned his excitement to be back in the area. Quicksand then played “Illuminant,” off 2017 album Interiors. Though composed in energy, the recent track proved just as angst-driven as earlier releases with its rough-around-the-edges instrumental and vocal textures.
Despite the melancholy ambience, the members of Quicksand glowed with contentment as they played—often all-smiles as they looked up from their instruments and into the crowd. The set then accelerated in pace with “Warm and Low,” another track off last year’s release. It opened with a trill that eventually built up into a warped, spiraling riff that felt like a sonic hypnosis. Under the spell, many fans went into head-banging mode.
Quicksand capped its set with a couple of ‘90s favorites: “Dine Alone” and “Delusional.”
Feedback rang through the venue as Glassjaw opened with the amped-up “Cut and Run,” off 2017’s Material Control. The new song introduced vocalist Daryl Palumbo’s signature scream right away, instantly setting off head-banging and devil horns. Palumbo raised a fist as he leaned over the barricade and moved onto “Tip Your Bartender,” a staple from 2002’s Worship and Tribute.
“Tip Your Bartender,” like many Glassjaw songs, alternates between hard-hitting riffs and accentuated distortions. Live, the New York band’s music is even more of a sonic frenzy. All three members were in a zone, lost to the beat of their own idiosyncrasies.
Keeping up with the music’s pace, Glassjaw jumped to “You Think You’re (John Fucking Lennon),” then to “Pink Roses” and “Jesus Glue,” without pause. While spoken banter was sparse, the connection between artist and audience still felt tightknit. Palumbo facilitated a lot of nonverbal interaction by motioning to fans to go all out, to which they readily obliged.
Glassjaw went on to play an hourlong set, closing with new tracks “Closer” and “My Conscience Weighs a Ton,” as well as 2000 classic “Siberian Kiss.”
Spotlights kicked off the night by diving straight into a breakdown. The Brooklyn trio ultimately started with “Seismic,” the title track of its 2017 album, which gradually unraveled the group’s sonic layers. The foundation of Spotlights’ sound started heavy and aggressive—expected given the show’s lineup. But occasionally, the melody traveled into shoegaze territory, as well as other dreamy elements. “What Is This? What Are We?” had a marimba sample, for example. Meanwhile, guitarist Mario Quintero and bassist Sarah Quintero split fuzzy vocals, creating a multifaceted and intriguing opening experience.