Into It. Over It. @ Bottom of the Hill 1/31/14 - photo by Evan Henkel
Photos by Evan Henkel

Bottom of the Hill hosted a three-band tour on Thursday evening, with a mouthful of a bill: Into It. Over It, The World is a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid to Die, and A Great Big Pile of Leaves. These names all get tossed around amidst discussions of the "emo revival" — a topic raised over the past year by the media, in an attempt to explain the reestablished interest in bands like Sunny Day Real Estate, and how their legacies have inspired a younger generation to continue this "genre."

While I am not here to defend the term "emo," nor am I here to make an argument that as a movement it is making a comeback, or even that it died off a decade ago, I will acknowledge the fact that this term umbrellas a musical subculture that is unlike many others. It's not necessarily a style or genre of music, as much as it is an approach to creating it. It beckons a certain kind of show experience, where fans show their loyalty in numerous ways: they crowd around the merch table to shake hands, they know every single word to every song, and in the most passionate and non-aggressive way, allow themselves to be crushed up against the stage, arms flailing, throats soaring to a volume that rivals the club's monitors. The bands, on the other hand, typically insist on playing all-ages venues, their performances depending on the energy levels established by the crowd night to night.

A young, Connecticut-based six-piece who successfully outdid "…And You Will Know Us" with the name "The World is a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid to Die" filled the middle slot on the tour. Once they worked through a rocky start with some feedback issues, the band carried through a set of beautifully crafted, long form post-rock tunes. Their set was thoughtfully delivered, but it left a little too much to the imagination, as if they were holding back slightly or having an off night. It wasn't until the lead guitar player surprised me with some low-end screams that I felt struck by what I was hearing. They ended with their most dynamic and interesting song, the album's closer "Getting Sodas," its final buildup elicited some hand clapping.

Their record Whenever, If Ever is an interesting collection of long form, Explosions in the Sky-style song structures, often beginning with spoken word passages. Aesthetically, the record is cohesive, but evolving. The listening experience is captivating more in the impression it leaves about how the songs made you feel while listening, rather than what it actually sounded like.

Headlining act Into It. Over It. is the project of Evan Weiss, who in his 20-something years of life has an impressive history of musicianship. Currently he claims membership in a few bands, including Damiera, Stay Ahead of the Weather, and the "supergroup" formed last year that a lot of people are excited about: Their / They're / There (with Mike Kinsella of Owen and American Football, and Matthew Frank of Loose Lips Sink Ships). A prodigious guitar player, Weiss uses the moniker Into It. Over It. to encompass his solo writing, and has penned a handful of records exploring various themes, the latest being Intersections, produced by Brian Deck (Modest Mouse, Iron & Wine). If there really is a traceable border between emo past and emo present, Weiss symbolizes the bridge between both time periods. As a songwriter, he feels so familiar — you can hear a little bit of each influential "past" artist in his songs, but more in the sense of tribute than plagiarism. You forget that you're not listening to Braid, American Football, Further Seems Forever, Piebald, or even at times, Mineral.

On stage, throwing around a custom tele with just enough control to keep close to the microphone for a lively vocal delivery, Weiss and his band plowed through a set mostly comprised of high-energy cuts off of Intersections and Proper. In listening to the technical diligence on the records, you wonder whether or not they can pull off those complex, Kinsella-esque guitar progressions live. Lacing together songs from different phases of his personal history, the set went from slowcore, epic sing-a-longs like "Midnight: Carroll Street," to melodramatic with "No Good Before Noon," to explosive, with the engine-revving guitar sounds of my album favorite, "Upstate Blues." All the while, Weiss's band kept up with him gracefully.

When records mean that much to you on your headphones, in your car, whatever — it must feel really nice to be face-to-face with the author. The clean, clear breath of fresh air Weiss brought into the project with his latest record is something physical I could feel, if just in being surrounded by a packed room of people singing the highly personal lyrics along with him.

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