by Joe Ruane
Caspian has been one of my favorite post-rock bands, and an act I’ve wanted to see live for years now. They’ve continually kept their music fresh in a genre that many consider stagnant, and following a recent single release, I couldn’t have been more excited for this show.
Not only was this my first time seeing Caspian, but it was my first time seeing a show at the Royale. The entrance to the nightclub seemed totally out of place. Walking in it felt as if I was about to attend an opera; it was very ornate with antique-looking furniture garnishing the stairs climbing up to the main room. Upon reaching the main room, the Royale quickly became my least favorite part of the show. A raised dance floor directly in front of the stage makes it difficult for everyone who isn’t on the dancefloor or in the mezzanine to see. The Royale did have something going for it, the acoustics. The sound quality was much better than many similarly-sized venues in the Boston area.
Coming into the show, I was thinking that most of the crowd would be college kids from the area, but I would say that the average age of the audience was over 30, with many much older and younger than that. Caspian attracts a large variety of people.
Opening for Caspian was The Appleseed Cast. This was my first exposure to them and, unlike Caspian, who rarely utilize vocals in their music, The Appleseed Cast didn’t shy away from mixing vocals into their more-traditional rock sound. Caspian came out to an excited crowd, ready for more music.
Caspian didn’t interact with the crowd very much, but it worked for their musical style. What would normally be a negative comment on their performance actually made their performance more impactful. By not constantly interacting with the crowd, they left their music as long fluid pieces that blended into each other. This worked really well and created this sense of timelessness. What felt like it could have been 45 minutes or 3 hours, was Caspian’s standard 90 minute set.
There were some obvious popular omissions from their setlist. Track selection is critical for Caspian as the number of songs they can play in 90 minutes is a relatively small number considering the length of many of their tracks. Caspian was left to make the tough decision between maintaining a consistent style and feeling throughout the show and playing what is arguably their most popular song, “Hymn For The Greatest Generation.” While watching the show, I was eager to hear the track, but looking back, I see that it would have felt out of place considering how greatly their style has varied over the last few years.
The last two songs that were played, “Darkfield” and “Castles High, Marble Bright”, were excellent selections to end the concert. The set Caspian played was mostly tracks off their latest full-length album Dust and Disquiet. “Darkfield” has a huge sound with aggressive driving guitars. It is the perfect selection as the penultimate song and climax of the show. They ended the night with the title track from their latest single, “Castles High, Marble Bright”, which had been released only weeks before the concert. “Castles High, Marble Bright” has a very peaceful feeling to it with a slow build into higher notes. It is one of their most uplifting tracks, and ending on that song was a great way to send the crowd off into the night.
The show ended at a very early 9:30pm with The Appleseed Cast going on at 7:00pm, Caspian at 8:00pm. Royale severely restricts the times during which a group can play there as they open at 10pm as a nightclub. This definitely had a negative impact on the viewing experience – the concert ended before many acts begin.
Disregarding my complaints about venue, Caspian performed wonderfully with a great crowd-warming act by The Appleseed Cast. Caspian has an amazing stage presence and they visibly give it their all, with many towels on stage to wipe away their sweat. They hit all of the notes I would expect from a 2016 Caspian.
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