Wrecking Ball 2016 day 2: Quicksand, Thursday, Dinosaur Jr, Joyce Manor, Promise Ring, more (pics, review)
photos by Amanda Hatfield
After a successful day one, Atlanta’s second Wrecking Ball music festival wrapped up on Sunday (8/14). Like Saturday, the lineup had so many artists worth seeing that it was really impossible to catch everything you wanted to. I managed to see a few songs each by Burn, CIV, Rainer Maria and Foxing, who all sounded great and made me wish I caught their full sets. I did see a handful of other full or almost-full sets though, and here are some highlights:
TIGERS JAW: I’ve caught Tigers Jaw a handful of times since the release of their latest and best album Charmer, one of my favorites of 2014, which they’ve still yet to follow up. That of course means their setlists don’t change too much, but this band just brings it every time. There’s nothing like kicking off your hot, sunny afternoon day with some consistently-good familiar sounds, and Tigers Jaw provided just that.
THE PROMISE RING: Mostly because of bad luck and bad timing, I’d never been able to see The Promise Ring before. I never saw them the first time around, I sadly missed their 2012 reunion tour, and the NYC show they were supposed to play this year was cancelled. So this was was my first time seeing this band, who have left a major impact on my life and many of the bands I listen to, and it definitely met expectations. They played plenty of the classic Nothing Feels Good, plus other faves like “Happiness Is All the Rage,” “A Picture Postcard,” “Make Me a Mixtape,” and more. Davey von Bohlen was clearly in a playful mood and not taking anything too seriously, which suits The Promise Ring well. “Emo” may get a rep for being self-serious and moody, but with TPR, “happiness is all the rage” is more than just a song title; it’s the band’s M.O.
JOYCE MANOR: Speaking of bands that are hard to tire of, Joyce Manor followed Tigers Jaw on the outdoor Park North stage. I had just seen these guys a month and a half ago at NYC’s Irving Plaza and they played a very similar selection of songs at Wrecking Ball, yet they still felt unmissable. The one main difference was that this time they played “Fake I.D.,” the excellent lead single off their highly-anticipated new album Cody (due 10/7 via Epitaph). The song came out less than a week ago, but plenty of the crowd already knew every word. It was the only taste of the new album they gave us, yet still enough to prove they’re only getting better. The old favorites, which we got plenty of (“Constant Headache,” “Leather Jacket,” “Five Beer Plan,” etc), sounded tight as ever too and had most of the crowd bouncing up and down endlessly.
DINOSAUR JR: You don’t ever need a reason to catch indie legends Dinosaur Jr, but there was some extra incentive to see this set. The band just released their new album, Give A Glimpse of What Yer Not, which is truly more greatness from them. They played “Goin Down,” “Tiny,” and a couple others off the new record, and they really fit right in with classics like “The Wagon” and “Freak Scene.” It’s kind of incredible how Dinosaur Jr basically never fail to deliver, even though they almost never change up their formula. It was already obvious, but this show really reinforced the timelessness of the old favorites and how instant-classic the new stuff is.
THURSDAY: On Saturday night (or technically Sunday morning around 2 AM), Thursday played a Wrecking Ball aftershow, their first show since going on hiatus in 2011. It was in a very small venue and really showed how, despite the fame Thursday achieved, they never stopped being a punk band at heart. Their set on one of the festival’s main stages on Sunday, though, had them in rock-star mode. (Both modes are great for different reasons.) They played an all-hits set that pulled exclusively from the Full Collapse – A City by the Light Divided era (including “Jet Black New Year”), which had the crowd going nuts the whole time. I still think it would’ve been nice to hear some stuff off their latest album No Devolución, the excellent note that the band went out on, but it was tough to complain about this set. Not that I needed one, but the whole set was a real reminder that Thursday’s impact has only strengthened since the breakup.
QUICKSAND: After having torn it up on one of the inside stages with Gorilla Biscuits on Saturday, Walter Schreifels headlined Wrecking Ball’s final day with his band Quicksand. It’s only been about a month since I caught a killer Quicksand show in Brooklyn, but Walter & co. blew me away yet again. They’re just such a tight band, Walter’s voice cuts above the mix expertly, and the band look like true stars on stage. A music festival like Coachella or Lollapalooza would probably have Quicksand much earlier in the day (if the 2016 versions of those fests even booked them), but Wrecking Ball reinforced how much these guys really are built to be headliners. At that Brooklyn show, I couldn’t help but think that Quicksand deserve to be playing arenas — their stage presence makes them naturals for it and their wide influence is undeniable — but that’s probably unlikely. That said, Wrecking Ball giving them the headlining slot, especially coming right after the anticipated return of a popular band like Thursday, felt pretty damn close.