by Cassie Marcotty
Thursday night was cold, wet, and rainy, but nothing could dampen the spirits of those in line waiting to get into The Sinclair, excited for a killer lineup promising Crying, The Hotelier, and Joyce Manor. Once doors opened everyone quickly hustled in, some heading to the bars, some checking out the merch, but most clamoring to get a spot in the front in order to witness, up close and personal, the chaos that would most likely unfold that night.
It can be hard opening for such a high profile show – Thursday was the second of two sold out shows here in Boston – but Crying held their own and got the crowd ready for the rest of the night with their self-described “bubblegum cyberpunk” sound. It’s always a breath of fresh air to hear a female lead vocalist in any punk community, so I’m glad to see them tagging along for this tour. Lead singer Elaiza was extremely likable and quite funny when interacting with the audience, but a deeper side came out while playing, giving a powerful performance. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them doing big things a couple years from now.
Next up was Massachusetts based band The Hotelier, and…wow. I already considered myself a fan of their music but The Hotelier are a band that has to be seen live in order to experience their songs fully; the amount of passion exuding from the stage was overwhelming. It was unusual to see so many fans in the audience for the opener, shouting out every word in unison with the band — it was apparent that this band evokes a lot of emotion for their listeners and it gave the night a sense of community. Their set mostly included songs with forceful beats and emphatic vocals to match, but Cristian Holden’s falsetto helped slow things at certain points in the set, but never for long. “Your Deep Rest” and “An Introduction to the Album” struck me as two of the more stand out tracks, and I highly recommend giving them a listen.
After a brief wait in between sets, Joyce Manor’s frontman Barry Johnson barely stepped foot on stage before the energy in the room increased tenfold. Say what you will about pop-punk, but bands’ fan bases tend to be some of the most loyal and enthusiast supporters in the industry, and Joyce Manor fans are no exception. As soon as the opening chords to “Leather Jacket” were played, the crowd erupted in cheers and surged forward, excitement overtaking manners as devoted fans began pushing people out of the way to get closer to the musicians. Joyce Manor played an impressive set stacked with over 20 songs — the songs are short, fast, and loud, with Johnson slightly slurring the words in his signature style. Fan favorite tracks showed up early, with “Fake I.D.” and “Catalina Fight Song” prompting an all-consuming vortex of flailing limbs and head-banging. The crowd only intensified throughout the rest of the night, as the venue security looked on helplessly as their “NO MOSHING, NO CROWDSURFING” signs went completely ignored. You can’t blame the fans — Joyce Manor’s hammering guitar playing and intense (read as: yelling) vocals elicit a physical reaction. The audience responds so enthusiastically in part because of the angst ridden lyrics, exemplified perfectly in their song “Falling In Love Again,” where Johnson states, “Hope you don’t think that I care/ ‘cause I do, I just don’t know if I should feel this bad about you.” With their main fan demographic being teenagers, presumably all dealing with the romantic shortcomings one expects from high school, the lovelorn lyrics are relatable, and the crowd sings them back like a war cry. Johnson plays the role of charismatic, charming bandleader well, cracking jokes and making coy comments during breaks in the songs. The only point in the night when the energy slightly dimmed is when the band abruptly announced their last song and walked off stage, only to return in less than two minutes for their highly demanded encore. Fervent renditions of “Constant Headache” and “Heart Tattoo” finished the night off — a night full of chaos, expectations being blown away, avoiding that one guy in the mosh pit who’s 6′ 5″ and 250 pounds, and – most importantly – punk music being done the right way.