Thursday @ The Fillmore.
Text and images by Rick Kauffman.
The return of Thursday to Philadelphia last week came far too long for a band that lives so close – just a hop over the bridge and a jaunt up the New Jersey Turnpike.
Last week, the band Thursday settled into the new digs at the Fillmore Philly and the post-hardcore pioneers returned to form in a teenage nostalgia-inducing, career-spanning set.
Geoff Rickly, Tom Keeley, Tim Payne, Tucker Rule, Steve Pedulla and Andrew Everding hadn’t played together in Philadelphia since December 30, 2011.
Then and on this night, they started with “For the Workforce, Drowning.” Both times, they served as a painfully accurate symbol of the times.
Flanking the Thursday logo, a dive-bombing dove, read the words “Refugees Welcome Here” and “Protect Immigrant Communities.”
Rickly said pundits suggested their voicing of political statements would cause them to lose fans.
“Have they never read our fucking lyrics?” he said rhetorically.
References to wars overseas and cultural appropriate were the first words he sang:
“We have burned their villages and all the people in them died. We adopt their customs and everything they say we steal … We erased all their images and danced, and replaced them with borders and flags.”
Thursday’s jettison to the mainstream came during the years when emo was the trending popular music. Alternative Press did a cover story in the early 2002s on the mainstream explosion of screamo, naming Thursday one of the early pioneers of the genre. Screamo had already existed in one form via mid-to-late 90s underground punk and hardcore music but had now burst from basement and into headlining tours.
It was 2003’s War All the Time that sought to define the post-9/11 world with a call to resist your boss, your job, your government and the hypocrisy of it all. It’s an earnest tribute to life, love and loss. Fitting that Rickly took the sole spotlight for a soulful performance of the piano ballad “This Song Brought To You By A Falling Bomb” in which he hit a note so beautifully that the audience whooped and cheered.
They saved that album’s title track for the first of two encores.
A touching and revealing moment came from Rickly during one break. Touring for at least 20 years since the band’s introduction in 1997, not to mention stints with United Nations and No Devotion during Thursday’s hiatus, Rickly said this is the first tour he’s ever attempted completely sober.
“It’s so fucking hard,”Rickly said, garnering a massive ovation.
Additionally, he let slip a remark that those in attendance should enjoy themselves because it “may be the last time” Thursday plays in Philadelphia.
But for 20 years, through wars and political turmoil, with calls for attention to social issues and marginalized people, it’s appropriate they chose a time to return when their music has never been more relevant.