Believe it or not, there actually is something more enticing in Wrigleyville than baseball in May. Friendly neighborhood rock club, Metro, played host May 6 to one of the Midwest’s most striking outfits, La Dispute. Although the city may still be recovering from spurts of bitter cold and deceiving warmth, the season hasn’t fallen astray. La Dispute’s visit to Chicago conjured a wave of somber thunderstorms, dreary mists and wet sidewalks for the five-piece post-hardcore group from Grand Rapids, Michigan. But, the Midwest is the Midwest. Nothing unusual. But, the city seemed to display a premeditated plot of dismal atmospheric tone, coincidentally matching the behavior of Michigan’s poster child of angst.
La Dispute’s “grand finale of six weeks on tour” in Chicago wrapped up a string of shows promoting Wildfire, the band’s latest LP previously released last fall. La Dispute gave it their all throughout the Sunday night set. The crowd scrutinized during moments of somber musical soliloquy and thrashed back once things got explosive (which, by the way, was a lot). Head screamer Jordan Dreyer commanded a voracious audience, always managing to get what he wanted out of them. Dreyer continued by loosely squirming his body to-and-fro, leading his band while exchanging vicious scream for soft-spoken poem. Some moments caught him in a gentle lyrical banter between himself and guitarist; Dreyer stared in an instance of reflection not directing any attention toward his audience once. Many others displayed his chill-inducing bare screams, layered under tender rhythms.
The wall of sound that emerged from the duo of guitars behaved in a way that was both technical and remarkably abrasive.
The quintet was able to scatter themselves throughout every inch of the stage while each member’s head-thrush seemed like it had been syncopated a countless number of times. Controlled, but sudden. At times the hall was stricken with so much feedback it was hard to decipher was exactly was happening. However, that seemed to be the point. They hammered out “You and I in Unison” in cessation of the night and as each remaining member exited stage left, all was left was a bare guitar squealing. Roaring. Encore chants brought out a closing rendition of “King Park.”
“It feels a lot like coming home, being here,” said Dreyer in regard to his love of Chicago. It was here that La Dispute continued to brush across themes conveying grief, love-loss, regret and hardship. Some depressing thread of subjects. Not only are these themes commonplace to the screamo genre, they stir together perspective issues not solely affecting their apparently desolate homeland of Michigan, but problems facing America uniformly. But it’s Dreyer’s moments of bleak, pure rasp-smitten vocal intensity that make La Dispute so powerful. And even so, five-piece bands can almost look awkward to some, leaving a lead vocalist only a small utility to fondle. Dreyer compensates by using his space, expressions and body to keep the band in unison, making the experience unmatchable to any other.
See exclusive photos of La Dispute at Metro here.
La Dispute at Metro on May 6, 2012 setlist
- “a Departure”
- “The Most Beautiful Bitter Fruit”
- “a Letter”
- “Harder Harmonies”
- “Why it Scares Me”
- “New Storms for Older Lovers”
- “Sad Prayers for Guilty Bodies”
- “a Poem”
- “Safer in the Forest/Love Song for Poor Michigan”
- “I See Everything”
- “a Broken Jar”
- “all our bruised bodies and the whole heart shrinks”
- “You and I in Unison”
- “King Park”