The World Is A Beautiful Place, Bent Knee, and Gates played Elsewhere (pics, review)
The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die wrapped up their tour in support of this year's excellent Illusory Walls at Brooklyn's Elsewhere on Saturday (11/13), alongside opening sets from Bent Knee and Gates. The band's current core lineup of David Bello (vocals), Katie Dvorak (keys, vocals), Chris Teti (guitar), Josh Cyr (bass) and Steven Buttery (drums) were joined by their manager Anthony Gesa on second guitar and Bent Knee's Chris Baum (who also contributed to Illusory Walls) on violin, and the seven-piece lineup powered through a set that included several highlights from the new album and a nice selection of older favorites, including "January 10th, 2014," "I Can Be Afraid of Anything," and set-closer "Heartbeat in the Brain," all three of which already feel like classics, as reinforced by the crowd's reactions to them.
It was nice to hear Harmlessness and Whenever, If Ever songs live for the first time since the pandemic, but the set was really all about the new material, and the new songs left a big impact. Being the last night of a 5-week tour, it's no surprise that the band sounded super tight during all the new songs, and these songs really came alive on stage the way TWIABP's best songs always have. Everybody was locked in and sounded massive; David Bello and Katie Dvorak's voices soared, it was a thrill to watch Chris Teti shredding and finger-tapping away at the intricate guitar work of the new album, and Steven Buttery remains a beast, whose thunderous fills anchored the show from start to finish. Illusory Walls marks the most drastic evolution that TWIABP have undergone since the one between Whenever, If Ever and Harmlessness -- if not ever -- and seeing the band nail those songs really proved that this long-running band has begun a new chapter of its career.
Earlier in the night, Gates kicked things off with a set that included a good chunk of their new Here and Now EP, and their post-rock-infused emo, mesmerizing light show, and larger-than-life stage presence made for a great start to the night. They've been around for a bit, but if you're unfamiliar, Gates kinda sound like a cross between late 2000s Thrice and the more atmospheric sound of bands like Pianos Become the Teeth and Moving Mountains, and if you're into that kinda stuff, make sure you're not missing out on Here and Now.
Since TWIABP have long been part of the emo scene, Gates probably had no trouble appealing to most of TWIABP's fanbase, but Bent Knee were something much different. They've got a quirky, shapeshifting art rock sound that brought me back to the peak Dirty Projectors era, and though they might've seemed jarring to some, I'd say they make just as much sense paired with TWIABP as Gates do. TWIABP pull from a seemingly limitless batch of genres and musical influences, and so do Bent Knee, who delivered a vast array of sounds throughout the night, sometimes touching on nearly a dozen different styles of music in the same song. They just released their sixth album Frosting and they mixed things up between that album and a few older tracks -- "Queer Gods" from the new album was a definite highlight. They had four vocalists, with lead singer Courtney Swain's soulful belting contrasted by the over-the-top vocoder used by violinist Chris Baum and bassist Jessica Kion, and they pulled from an array of different synthetic and acoustic instrumentation, from metallic riffage to funk bass to trap beats. Again, Bent Knee probably weren't for everyone (though there was definitely a section of the crowd who showed up specifically to see them), but regardless of your opinion on the music, they definitely know how to leave an impression. There's no way anyone who was at Elsewhere on Saturday will be forgetting their set anytime soon.
More photos by Amanda Hatfield below...