Loma Prieta @ Gilman (photo: Nikolas Soelter)Loma Prieta (photo: Nikolas Soelter)

Last night, Gilman hosted four bands playing a broad spectrum of a new wave of post-hardcore music that's been gaining traction over the last couple years. Pianos Become The Teeth, Loma Prieta, Gates, and The American Scene all play a style of music that emphasizes melody while still being powerfully distorted and emotional, with Loma occupying the more distorted side of the spectrum quite a bit more than any other band on the bill.

Val and Brian of Loma Prieta (photo: Nikolas Soelter)Val and Brian of Loma Prieta (photo: Nikolas Soelter)

Heading over right after work I arrived just as Gates was finishing their sound check. They started with some picture perfect, emotional guitar chords and strained singing, reminding me a lot of early 2000s emo like Taking Back Sunday or the more restrained moments of bands like Saosin. The room was already pretty filled out, and although their brand of rock was not quite my thing, they were getting a lot of head bobbing up front.

Next up were Loma Prieta, whose sound has evolved over the years from melodic screamo, into what now more closely resembles really smart grindcore or experimental hardcore. There's lots of unpredictable tempo changes and catchy dissonant riffs. I'd heard they were using a fog machine during their live sets now, and I was really curious to see what kind of effect the combination of slow, curling fog and insanely fast blast beats would be like.

Loma Prieta (photo: Nikolas Soelter)Loma Prieta (photo: Nikolas Soelter)

Illuminated by several work lights, the fog started pouring out and the band ripped into “Trilogy 6 ‘Forgetting’” off of 2012's I.V. The band's signature sound of tube breakup and crunchy low end is executed extremely well on all their records, but can be very difficult live. Both guitar players are using reverb and looping feedback during and in between songs, so the fast parts sometimes sound like something large and hi-pitched screaming at you. It's during the slower moments and parts that cut to just bass that the combination of the fog and their punishing live sound really came together as something awesome. Thats not to say the other parts of the set weren't good - their drummer Val pulls of some unbelievable fills and, in my opinion, kind of sets the blast beat standard.

Loma have been debuting some material from a new record on this tour, and the new songs were more straight forward - lots of driving beats and melodic leads, while still being Loma's particular brand of unhinged aggression.

Loma Prieta (photo: Nikolas Soelter)Loma Prieta (photo: Nikolas Soelter)

Loma ended their set with more material from I.V., and Pianos started to get ready. I had only heard a bit of Piano's new record, and was extremely curious to see how the songs would be live, as they feature a lot less direct intensity like their older material, most obvious in the mostly sung and hardly screamed vocal delivery.

Pianos Become The Teeth (photo: Nikolas Soelter)Pianos Become The Teeth (photo: Nikolas Soelter)

The set opened with urgent and clear guitars building atmosphere while the fog machine spilled its contents onto the stage. PBTT's guitar players maintained a pensive energy throughout the set with their post-rock inspired playing while the rhythm section handled the aggressive under current. I was pretty taken aback by how tangible the emotion was during their set, even by the newer material I was less familiar with. After about four songs they took time to thank the audience, and broke into the first track off their last record. A lot of that record's lyrical content dealt with vocalist Kyle Durfey's experience with his father's multiple sclerosis struggle, and the pain was palpable during those songs.

Pianos Become The Teeth (photo: Nikolas Soelter)Pianos Become The Teeth (photo: Nikolas Soelter)

Although catching Loma was a big highlight for me, I was really impressed by Pianos set and their new material. The entire set had a somewhat anthemic, gospel-like quality to it, with every band member mouthing along to the lyrics and the audience's screams cutting through when the band pulled back.

Pianos Become The Teeth (photo: Nikolas Soelter)Pianos Become The Teeth (photo: Nikolas Soelter)

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