Thrice will likely never achieve the punk rock legacy of Social Distortion or the Adolescents. They probably won't ever have their music played on Top 40 radio stations like No Doubt or the Offspring.
But if you ever get the chance to see Thrice play a club show within OC's confines, you'd never know that the post-hardcore veterans weren't considered the biggest and best band in OC history.
From the front row to the upper deck, the Observatory quickly filled on Thursday night as Thrice's fans poured in for their first of two homecoming shows. From the 30ish bros with their black tank tops and veil of masculinity to high school kids seeing their older sibling's favorite band for the first time, the age of the audience spanned at least as much time as Thrice's 16-year career.
As the set began with "Hurricane" and "Silhouette," it was a sign of things to come. There was no introduction from frontman Dustin Kensrue, only powerful vocals and crisp chords. Teppei Teranishi's signature leads echoed off of his fretboard and around the venue on a level that doesn't happen in bigger venues, like the Shrine at the beginning of the tour or Taste of Chaos last year. Immediately, Thrice fans were brought back 5 to 15 years (depending on when their favorite album/tour was).
Along with one of the few brief breaks to thank the crowd, the four-piece cranked out stellar versions of "Of Dust and Nations" and "All the World is Mad" before leading a singalong to the end of "Black Honey." While most bands have trouble getting fans to listen to a new album after a handful of years off, some of the tracks from To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere got such a strong reaction that Kensrue hardly had to sing the choruses.
Throughout the middle of the set, Thrice blended tracks from the new album alongside records as far back as 2005's Vheissu to keep the crowd more than entertained for the better part of an hour. As "Promises" became "Wood & Wire" and then "Daedalus," Teranishi jumped back and forth between the keyboard and his trusty guitar while Kensrue even busted out a maraca for a track. You know things are serious when the maraca comes out.
Almost an hour into the set, one of the biggest mosh pits of the night came during "Hold Fast Hope" right before the Artist in the Ambulance fans finally got their second song of the night in an energetic rendition of "Hoods on Peregrine."
While some bands may lose steam toward the end of a 90-minute set, Thrice showed they still had plenty left in the tank with a thunderous "Blood on the Sand" performance before taking a quick pause to thank their hometown fans one more time and revisiting Vheissu for a version of "For Miles" that was so satisfying that many people legitimately believed it might be their last song of the night.
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Instead, Kensrue and the Breckenridge brothers took the stage once again for the most extensive appreciation speech as well as the near-mandatory hometown crowd photo. Once their lead guitarist joined them again, the band tore through a singalong version of "The Artist in the Ambulance" to kick off their encore.
During the next pause in the action, Kensrue's sly smile indicated what the band was about to launch into. The singer dedicated the track to the crowd that clamored to hear it at the Shrine a few months ago (and likely every other stop of the tour) and started the best take on "Deadbolt" that likely anyone in the crowd had ever heard either in person or recorded.
With the crowd riding a high from the oft-requested 2002 tune, the night ended on the anthemic "The Earth Will Shake" and many of the audience members considering returning on Sunday to see the second half of Thrice's homecoming shows.
Of Dust and Nations
All the World is Mad
The Long Defeat
Wood & Wire
Hold Fast Hope
Hoods on Peregrine
Blood on the Sand
Death from Above
The Artist in the Ambulance
The Earth Will Shake