Having never sat down and reviewed a gig before, I had every intention of staying sober to make sure I could remember every single nuance of my first experience seeing Converge live. I failed. By the time the support acts had wound up I was well on my way to having that warm, fuzzy feeling of inebriation rise up past the hairs on my neck. Combined with the fact that my nerves were already shot from sitting for hours having a sensitive part of my body tattooed (My hand. You perverts!) and by the time the Boston legends took the stage, I’d begun to feel somewhat euphoric. What followed was loud, cathartic and unforgettable.
Scandinavian support bands Okkultokrati and Martyrdöd started the night off with a barrage of d-beats and fuzzy guitars. The sound in the Classic Grand venue left something to desire and Okkultokrati suffered from this in particular. Only three songs (beers) deep and I was already getting tired of the dry efforts of the Norwegian noise merchants. They barreled through their set but a request for a circle pit was met with mild derision from a sparse crowd. With the sound blowing the wax out of my ears I jumped out to smoke and toilet. By the time Martyrdöd smashed through a short but sweet set of blackened punk, which the crowd was far more appreciative of, the floor was filling and more heads were turning nervously in anticipation for the main event. A few more beverages and cigarettes later and I was merely minutes from getting to see the band who I had first heard more than ten years ago.
Bannon, Ballou, Koller and Newton appeared on stage and plugged in. After a few drum rolls, mic checks and testing of the levels my wait was finally over. They jumped straight into the first Converge song I had ever heard. ‘Eagles Become Vultures’ live was just as heavy as I’d imagined. Bodies started moving and I ditched my can to get to the front, right in front of Ballou and his wild right hand, not strumming or picking but moving with the guitar to belt out every riff and slide through ‘Aimless Arrow’ and ‘Axe To Fall’. At this point I found myself neglecting to look after my freshly needled flesh and was banging my head, swinging my arms and screaming along to every lyric. Even the ones I didn’t know I found myself still screaming anyway.
Bannon, ever the showman, stopped briefly to have a word with the crowd. It was cut out by what is now a common request from the crowd for ‘Trespasses’. The band obliged. I can only apologise to the person who made it in front of me during this as I was straight up smacking them in the back of their head while I bounced around like a canine on cocaine. Songs from 2012’s incredible All We Love We Leave Behind and Axe To Fall, the bands previous effort, made up most of the set with offerings from their discography scattered among the recent material. When they stopped and announced they were going to play one they hadn’t in some time my mind was racing. I then heard the words ‘Grim Heart/Black Rose’ – possibly one of my favorite songs of all time. For those unaware, this eight minute epic pulls emotion from even the most stoic of individuals. I actually found myself at the point of tears but I couldn’t weep. I was just this ugly, dry-wretching face in the front of the crowd, struggling to comprehend the emotion I was feeling. Completely exhausted by this point, like many in the crowd I picked myself back up, gritted my teeth and had my face smashed by yet more chaos and hard feels.
The encore of the classic one-two punch of the opening tracks from Jane Doe and ‘Last Light’, yet another anthem for the masses, was over. I grabbed as much Boston flesh as I could while they moved across the front of the stage, in as much appreciation of us as we were of them. People had been stage diving over me, pushing me in the back and flailing across the stage throughout the duration of the evening but I didn’t notice. I was completely absorbed in this spectacle. No stranger to live gigs and some of the most renowned live acts around, I had never felt so completely drained and satisfied at the same time. I could have stood there shredding my throat for hours more but it was over. The sadness kicked in but I left with my ears ringing, my hand completely swollen up and a full bladder as I wasn’t missing one damn song.
Losing my virginity for real was nowhere near as fun or as momentous as finally “doing it” with Converge and I am not one for senseless hyperbole. If you are a genuine fan of this band and are yet to witness them live then please do the right thing and make time in your life to do so. There are several reasons that this band are still around and carry such massive respect among their peers and fans worldwide. Their scintillating live show is untouchable.