…And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead – The Bowery Ballroom – March 29, 2014
What’s more important for bands, their recordings or their performances? Fortunately for those who like to have their cake and eat it too, we live in a world where you can experience both. On Saturday night at The Bowery Ballroom, …And You Know Us by the Trail of Dead performed their pivotal 2002 release, Source Tags & Codes, in its entirety. And the album sounds as fresh today as the day it was released. In hindsight, the LP feels like a statement of what rock music could be in a year when most of it sucked (for those curious, the top-selling rock album of 2002 was Creed’s Weathered).
Bruce Springsteen said that the first time he heard “Like a Rolling Stone,” the song’s opening snare hit sounded “like somebody’d kicked open the door to your mind.” Well the first track on Source Tags & Codes, “It Was There That I Saw You,” sounds like someone taking down that same door with a machine gun. With its dual barrage of snare hits and guitar, the song introduces an energy that doesn’t really let up over the course of the entire album—it’s an energy that grabs a listener by the throat. Most of the audience was getting tossed around like this was the case, like the pure energy of the music blew through the venue and took out large swaths of the audience with it. The hardcore-inspired “Homage” drew Jason Reece from the drums to frontman responsibilities. Yelling into the crowd through a microphone, he eventually somehow began crowd surfing, falling into the audience like he was sucked into a vortex of his own creation.
Three out of four of the band members are listed as drummers, which must play some role in their music, because the album—as a whole, as much as the songs individually—builds up through their rhythm. Like on “Relative Ways,” the buildup didn’t really head toward the song’s climax, instead it was the climax. And while the entirety of Source Tags & Codes was the night’s main event, the album took up only a little over half of the show. So the band also played through a grab bag of hits from later albums, including “Mistakes & Regrets,” “Will You Smile Again?” and “Caterwaul.” There was also an unreleased new tune, dedicated to their friend Benjamin Curtis, the guitarist from the band School of Seven Bells who passed away in December, simply written on their set list as “Bells.” But the show’s final number was Trail of Dead’s first song off their debut release, the aptly named “Richter Scale Madness.” —Dan Rickershauser