One thing was made perfectly clear to me last evening: more people need to pay attention to Trophy Scars.
Since 2006, with the release of Alphabet. Alphabets., the band has ended up on my top ten list, and mainly as my favorite album of the year. Not that it should mean anything to any of you, but I’m merely mentioning it to let you know I hold this band in very high regard. As many might not know, Trophy Scars lead the post-hardcore movement as being one of the most dynamic in the genre. And with hints of it in Alphabet. Alphabets., they started to cross over into to playing more bluesy riffs, and adding piano and string arrangements to their songs with their 2009 release Bad Luck. The best part is, they’re fucking great at it.
As per my discussion with Mike, maybe that’s why there were only 40 people at their show last night at the Putnam Den in Saratoga Springs. But the band didn’t miss a beat as they were all smiles throughout the set. Jerry Jones still displayed a vast amount of swagger as he commanded the stage and continued to grab the fans he saw screaming along by the back of their head, bringing them in close so they could share the mic. John Ferrara made jaws drop on the floor with his incendiary blues guitar solos, playing with a different energy then I’ve ever seen in the past. Andy Farrell, with his (apparently) classic neon orange bass strings, displayed his fervent energy and the always fun the watch Brian Ferrara blasted through his impressively calculated drum work.
There was some skepticism, though, when the band did appear on stage as a quartet instead of a five-piece. I imagined it would be hard to make some of the songs on Bad Luck and Darkness, Oh Hell work in a live setting.
Dear lord, I was proved wrong.
The songs still held their weight as, and this is the first time I’ve ever said this, I could feel Brian Ferrara’s kick drum pounding me in the forehead. “Geneva,” my favorite track off of Bad Luck, eerily crept along as Jones’s veins were nearly popping out of his neck from growling. They even did their best to recreate the piano when John Ferrara tried recreating the hitting of a piano chord by slapping his guitar strings as the rest of the band laughed at the failed attempt. But they excelled on songs like the fiery and raw “El Cowboy Red” with everyone screaming along “I don’t, give a fuck.”
One song in particular I thought would suffer from the lack of instruments, which includes a horn section, was “Nausea.”
Ferrara built up the anticipation as he repeated the opening riff. The crowd clapped along to the beat as they exploded into the track. The band exerted high octane energy as they ripped through the song, with Jones, as he did at many points during the evening, turning his back to the crowd and head banging ferociously and John Ferrara’s bending guitar notes rained down on the crowd. And honestly, that’s one of the great things about the band. Still only playing to a small crowd at a $5 show, they were still giving it their all. Thrashing their bodies about and commanding the stage as they showed they are veterans of the road.
During the show the band explained for their tardiness, explaining that they had just got done with putting the finishing touches on their new full lengths. So what did that mean for the crowd at Putnam Den? That’s right, new songs!
All of them hold the blues mindset the band has been in the past two years, showing the band is comfortable with their direction. Throughout the night, I also couldn’t keep from shifting my gaze towards John Ferrara as he proved to me he is a master of the blues guitar. This seemed to have been lost on me in past performances since there had always been one and sometimes two more guitarists on the stage. Honestly, he proved that evening that he doesn’t need them.
The end of the night came and the band solicited the crowd for requests. Shouts of “Assistant. Assistants.” were heard and Jones did the only thing he could do… He checked with the rest of the band to see if they all remembered it. Right before they got into, Jones admitted that he’s tried to remember the words over the past five years. But just when he gets the hang of them, well…
“I do drugs,” he said.
But no one noticed. And the crowd lost its mind. Flashes of old Trophy Scars shows came to mind as the diehard fans circled around Jones and screamed along the chorus, “Remember when we were just 16 and dreaming/Drinking in the basement just shouting and screaming.” Of course, Mike and I had to get ourselves into the mix.The crowd demanded one more song, though, and Jones assured the crowd this had to be their last one. And it was no surprise when the blast of “Everything you do/Will make you separate from the lovers that you choose,” of Goodnight Alchemy’s “Jerry’s the name, Sociology’s My Game.” And after that, all I could do was smile.