Thursday brings “Full Collapse” to Milwaukee for an evening 21 years in the making (Show Review)

By Bryan McCabe


Twenty one years ago, Thursday’s most influential album, Full Collapse, was released. When I first heard that album as an impressionable high school freshman still finding his musical identity, this was the type of music that I was forever hooked on. Twenty years ago, I saw Thursday for the first time as the opener of the 2002 Warped Tour playing underneath a highway bridge in Milwaukee. It was a small crowd on account of the gates having just been opened, but the guys in Thursday poured out all of their energy to the fans that were there. Since then, I’ve seen Thursday 8 other times if my memory serves me right (elder emo problems). Every show, from packed 3,500 capacity clubs, to a tiny bar in middle of nowhere Wisconsin, this band has been absolutely phenomenal in their live performances. Now it has become a bit of a tradition of theirs to play a run of shows just before the holidays. 

Typically, most of those shows are in the eastern part of the country, but this year, they were kicking off the tour in Milwaukee. To top it off, they are playing their career defining album Full Collapse in its entirety for the album’s 21st anniversary. Joining them are Cursive, who are also playing their seminal album, Domestica, in full as well, with Anthony Green opening the shows. 

With the room at The Rave quickly filling up, Anthony Green took the stage to get the crowd warmed up. Right away a good chunk of the crowd was singing along to his solo material. Admittedly, I’m not too familiar with much of his solo work apart from this debut album, Avalon, but he did play “Stonehearted Man” and “Babygirl” from that album and he sounded just as great as I was hoping he would. He even threw in a solo version of Circa Survive’s “Lustration”. After a solid 10 song set, it was time for Cursive to take the stage.

Cursive came out to much applause and excitement. The band looked just as excited as the crowd to be there. Right away they tore into “Stranded Satellite” with as much energy as some bands half their age. The entire band was feeding off of the crowd’s energy as they were singing along nearly every one of Tim Kasher’s deeply personal lyrics. After teasing the crowd in anticipation of hearing Domestica for 2 songs, they finally strummed the first chords of “The Casualty” and the crowd went crazy with excitement. Cursive knew exactly what the crowd wanted and did not disappoint. From there they played their breakout album straight through from start to finish. Before finishing up their set with a few other songs from their strong catalog, they treated the crowd to a new song titled “Loud”, which fits right in with that classic Cursive sound that fans love. 

Finally it was time for Thursday to take the stage. By this time, The Rave was nearly packed and the crowd was ready to explode. Unlike Cursive, Thursday came out to the intro of “A0001” before lighting the fuse on the crowd with that legendary energy of “Understanding in a Car Crash”. Right away people were screaming their lungs out and crowd surfing to the edge of the stage. Vocalist Geoff Rickly is a master of getting the crowd engaged with his perfect execution of pointing the mic to the crowd to have them sing his words back to him like a beautiful choir. Sadly, lead guitarist Tom Keeley is still absent from their live shows, but Texas Is the Reason guitarist Norman Brannon does a fantastic job filling in. 

From the first song to the last song of Full Collapse, the songs sounded just as fresh and powerful as the first time that I heard them. After a short break, the band came back out for a 4 song encore that kicked the energy up another notch with “Jet Black New Year” Few songs get a crowd amped up like that one. I always love hearing the live version of “This Song Brought to You by a Falling Bomb”. It’s such a simple and stripped down song that really showcases Geoff’s strong vocals. My idols may be looking a little older, some of them a lot grayer, but their live performance has not aged one bit. They sound just as good as ever, and if you love these albums like so many other diehard fans, do yourself a favor and get to one of these shows before you miss your chance.   

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