Caspian / Circle Takes the Square
Monday, October 19, 2015
King’s Barcade, Downtown Raleigh —
Now that it is getting closer to winter time, I find it harder and harder to make it out to shows, but I was compelled to make an exception for Circle Takes the Square. I have been wanting to see them for over 10 years, after they dropped “As the Roots Undo”. But shortly thereafter, CTTS rode off into the sunset, leaving my jaw agape and a void in my chest where my heart used to be. I didn’t hear from them again for years until one day, out of the blue and through the grapevine, I stumbled on a teaser for “Decompositions” and squealed. But that has been about three years now and I still hadn’t seen CTTS live. It’s not like they are from the icy wastelands of Minsk. They hail from the American southeast, probably less than 5 hours away from Raleigh. So you can imagine my excitement when I saw that the digital tour poster included the letters “NC” and were not preceded by that dirty word of “Charlotte,” or even worse, (gasp!) “Asheville.” CTTS decided to play at my most trafficked venue in DTR, King’s. AND they were supporting the excellent Caspian for their new record! Needless to say, I bought by ticket immediately. (July 3rd. Over 3 months prior to the show.) My only question at the time was which of my 4 CTTS shirts was I going to wear under my CTTS hoodie so that I could stand at the front of the stage with wide-eyed wonderment, which I managed to do for over the first half of the set.
I posted up in front, slightly stage right, with a clear view of all 3 members of the band so that I could swivel my focus as they traded vocal duties between phrases, of which I naturally sang and screamed along. Much of the crowd up front joined me as I realized that it consisted of other CTTS superfans, many of which were clad in the same hoodie as me. I was surrounded by other like-minded brethren, reveling in the place “where pale and distant shapes made of shadow speak forms in a feedback loop of abandoned memory.” That is, right up until my reverie was dashed on the rocks as two sweaty dudes slammed into the side of me. I was hoping that the rest of the crowd’s journey in life mirrored mine: Get into CTTS in early 20s, years pass, see CTTS in early 30s when you are too old to mosh. Sadly, moshing will outlive us all. I began to feel depressed as I noticed my primo spot up front slip away from me as I was edged away from the stage and into other concertgoers who also did not feel like catching a windmill kick to the side of the head. When I realized I was spending most of my time on the lookout for errant elbows from neanderthals and not watching one of my favorite bands, I retreated back to the bar where some friends of the program had posted up. I drained the last of my PBR can and upgraded to the kind of beer that one serves in a pint glass where I enjoyed the rest of the set in relative safety from blundering lummoxes. Now some of you might be thinking, “But Negadave, who are you to decry moshing? If you don’t want sweaty dudes rubbing up on you while ‘dancing’, maybe you shouldn’t be in the pit?” To that, I say, touche, but if I may, why does one feel the need to mosh in the first place? Sure, I may be a “pussy” (Editor’s Note: Sustained.), but I also learned to keep my hands to myself when I was 4 years old after a string of incidents at preschool which may or may not have centered on pinching girls bottoms. (Editor’s Note: I plead the 5th, your honor.) This isn’t Fight Club. I’m not Tyler fucking Durden. I retired from boxing after a rocky 0-1 start back in the late 90s. (Editor’s Note: Boxing is hard and requires considerable cardio skills.) I’m just trying to sync my headbangs with CTTS’s spazzy time changes. I’m not trying to fend off rude wankers who want to invade my personal space. It’s not like I take up that much of it. Oh well. Water’s wet, sky’s blue, and hell is still other people.
4/5 stars = Great
“In time, you’ll add my shadow
To your overspilling urn
And match my every move
Step for step, turn for turn”
It’s a toss-up for Most Underrated post-rock band these days between Caspian, Russian Circles, and If These Trees Could Talk. (Editor’s Note: Honorable mention goes to DC upstarts Black Clouds.) The fact that Caspian decided to swing by Raleigh this month and leave me in awe plants them firmly at the top of that list here in late 2015.
Having just recently dropped their excellent new record, “Dust and Disquiet”, Caspian promptly rocked my existence to its very core with their own blend of heavy, ethereal, instrumental beauty. Every rise and fall caused a new chill to work its way up my spine. I had hoped to be able to write more than two measly paragraphs about the experience, but for once in my life, words have failed me. I was unable to find any jerks in the crowd to make fun of because I was to busy being entranced. I didn’t know what to do with my hands so I alternated between taking swigs of beer and drumming on the bar along to the rhythm. I wasn’t stuck in my own head, uber-conscious of my own existence, which is my standard state of being. Caspian took me out of myself, unraveling the tangles of my being that I have spent the last 30 years only twisting tighter with each passing year. I’m not really sure how to intimate the feeling of your heart bursting at each apex, only to feel it slowly blossom anew with each successive song in the set. By the end of the show, I was emotionally drained. The band gave King’s Barcade everything they had. I just hope that everyone else appreciated the effort half as much as I did.
5/5 = Excellent.
Caspian took my soul for a ride that I wished would never end.