By Avery Galek
The Boston-based hardcore-punk quartet Converge graced the stage of Water Street Music Hall this past Saturday night. Following the stoner-metal mojo magnet Torche, Converge took no time in dispersing raw energy. Hailing from Salem, Massachusetts and formed over 20 years ago, the current group consists of founding members Jacob Bannon (lyrics, visuals) and Kurt Ballou (guitar) along with Nate Newton (bass) and Ben Koller (drums).
Blasting into their signature rant “Concubine,” this Jane Doe opening track never fails in stirring the listener. Spastic spurts of jaggedness exploded into pure thrash. This short commodity broke into a mixture of classics along with more recent heart throbs from their most recent endeavor Axe to Fall.
Blending punk, metal, and various subgenres of hardcore, the group managed to create an innovative style of abrasive music. Their sound, lyrics and visual art combined has set them apart from many bands as they continue to be an influential force for over two decades now.
Founder of the record label Deathwish Inc., Jacob Bannon threw guttural blows through his microphone in open mouth bellows, haunting and intense. Kurt Ballou took this time away from his Godcity Recording Studio to lay down some finger flailing, spiced with dissonance. Known for his two side projects Old Man Gloom and Doomriders, Nate Newton ponied up on his bass to ride the riff, filling out the foundation along with grindcore veteran Ben Koller.
On tour supporting their newest release All We Love We Leave Behind, Converge played timeless tunes ranging across the span of their career. The small club setting the mood, encouraging nostalgia and an onslaught of stage dives must have provoked them into living their past glories. They barely touched any material on their new album, choosing to crowd please instead. As they finished their set and walked off stage, that beckoning chant of “one more song, one more song” lured them back to rip into their definitive encore of “Last Light” from their record You Fail Me. And just as quick as they had entered, they left a mark of angst with the last set of lyrics, “this is for the heart still beating.”
It’s rejuvenating to shake the calloused hand of one of the hardest working and dedicated souls, truly committed to his art. When I spoke with Jacob Bannon that night after Converge’s set, I told him that I would probably write a review on the show and would enjoy the hell out of it. I also told him his mic gave me a fat lip, and I would enjoy the hell out of that too. Punk rock smiles all around.