Last Friday, four of the East Coast’s best kept secrets took the stage at the Bowery Ballroom for the first time. Into It. Over It., A Great Big Pile Of Leaves, The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid To Die, and LVL Up have played together as friends in basement and house shows for years, so it was a truly unique experience for everyone in the sold-out crowd to see them elevated to a proper stage in a big-time New York venue.
LVL Up opened the show by delivering their special blend of quick-hitting, lo-fi indie rock with finesse, which set the stage for Connecticut’s The World Is A Beautiful Place. The eight members of this well-oiled emo machine were joined by friend/recent collaborator Christopher Zizzamia who recited some of his poetry over select Beautiful Place cuts. Right from the start, the band dove headlong into the heavy, distinct atmospherics that have gotten them so much attention recently. Singer David Bello seemed to enter his own world, gazing at everyone yet looking at no one, while striking several Jim Morrison-esque poses.
As the set progressed, moshing ensued, and the emotional/sonic intensity of each song, driven by the thundering and technically brilliant drumming of Steven Buttery, helped the group’s set become more of an experience than a list of songs played back to back. During the epic outro of Getting Sodas, off of the band’s 2013 LP, Whenever, If Ever, the entire audience joined in to shout the hopeful yet haunting mantra: “The world is a beautiful place/But we have to make it that way.”
Next up in the batting order was A Great Big Pile Of Leaves, launching into its set with an insanely catchy opening: the ooohs of Snack Attack. The syncopated power-pop that this Brooklyn band brought to the table was definitely a change of pace from The World Is A Beautiful Place, but it was enough to get the crowd bouncing around. Lead singer Peter Weiland and guitarist Matthew Fazzi energetically traded off dreamy guitar solos, while bassist Tucker Yaro and drummer Tyler Soucy held down the dancey grooves. Close to the end of their set, Fazzi took a moment to express how it was always a dream of his to play the Bowery Ballroom, and he never would have thought the band would make it there. They closed out their set with the youthful and anthemic, We Don’t Need Our Heads, signaling that it was time for the headliner.
Evan Weiss, lead singer and mastermind behind Into It. Over It. kept a big smile on his bearded face while bros in the crowd shouted lyrics from one of Weiss’s previous bands, Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start. “I’m Evan Weiss, and this is Into It. Over It,” was all it took to send the crowd into mayhem, as a wave of pop-punk enthusiasts rushed the stage. Between the 22 songs that covered material from 2009’s Two Weeks through 2013’s Intersections, Weiss would pause to express his gratitude, talk about his overweight cat, Miles, have a, “private” conversation with friend Kevin Devine about his recent wedding where ice cream sandwiches were served as wedding cake, and challenge New York to make this a better show than Boston had given them.
The band never ran out of steam, and they were even joined by Fazzi on keys for a couple of songs. Between the band’s energy and Weiss’s charisma, they had the room full of moshers, wayward crowd-surfers, and the occasional stage-diver in the palms of their hands. The crowd was more than happy to indulge in the obligatory exit-the-stage-real-quick-then-play-an-encore move, and before sending his fans off, Weiss made sure to announce that New York had beat out Boston for the best show the band has had. The crowd clearly thought so too.