The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die took the flannel-clad audience at High Noon Saloon for a nonlinear journey through sounds from the last 20 years. Sometimes using fusions of genres and other times distributing a more focused tone, the band’s set was never short on dynamics.
As a large band that has seen much lineup fluctuation, the group performed as a sextet Tuesday night, featuring a pair of guitars with keyboards, some sequencing and a traditional rhythm section.
Ratboys kicked off the evening and West Virginian emo-rockers Rozwell Kid followed. As the penultimate act of the evening, Rozwell Kid provided sufficient dance moves and had enough of a strong sound to headline. Between songs, frontman Jordan Hudkins spoke to the crowd in slant rhyme, which he divulged was a nod to Emily Dickinson. The poetry was cheesy and endearing but detracted from the performance, as the awkward punchlines felt misplaced between the group’s kickass power pop tracks.
TWIABP were less unified in expression than their generally enthusiastic predecessors. The East Coast six-some wore a range of emotions. The headliners used non-traditional passages throughout, forcing unsuspecting audience members to be on their toes at each corner. Keyboardist Katie Dvorak and the lead guitarist supplied stoicism on both sides of singer David Bello’s calm and occasionally anguished face. Behind them, guitarist Chris Teti exuded the largest stage presence with long, straight brunette hair. Drummer Steven Buttery exhibited cohesion with bassist Josh Cyr, who sported dual pigtails. The pair frequently locked eyes and united to uphold the backbone of the group’s sound.
Analogous to the way the band emoted, their sounds were also wide-reaching and varied. TWIABP played tempered sequences of post-rock instrumentation which occasionally budded into driving post-hardcore riffs. At times, the ensemble featured Dvorak’s synths as the leading melody a la Kansas emo icons, The Anniversary.
Bello consistently reached the upper registers, singing with his eyes closed and hands clutching the microphone most of the time. His refrains often lacked the magnitude to ring out over the instruments. Dvorak delivered beautifully written descants that sometimes conversed with Bello’s melodies. Higher in pitch, Dvorak’s notes left some to be desired in clarity and volume but were thoroughly melodic. The group’s more devout onlookers belted out the more popular songs with a pointed finger raised.
Perhaps, due to the difficulty of live mixing, the band’s dynamic sounds were less distinguishable than in their recorded work. For the full, dense choruses, the muddling of instrumentation felt adequate, sending a wall of sound through the depths of the venue. But the moments of more subtle and precise orchestration failed to differentiate from the heavier channels as much as they should have. Longing for the complex tranquility of post-rock, I felt like I was audibly grasping for a sound that would never come. Buttery switched to mallets as his tools of percussion during quieter bits, but still drowned out what could have been a more atmospheric aura.
Dvorak’s power synths made me dance. Buttery’s thrashing crash made my head bob. The loud instrumentation backing Bello’s somber presence produced a dissonance. I felt transported but lost, wanting to be taken just a little bit further.