LOS ANGELES, CA- I went to Touché Amoré’s 1,000th show and felt old … But it’s okay, because I think a lot of other people did, too.

No matter how old you get, it always feels satisfyingly cathartic to get some dormant angst out every once in a while. Everyone has their own way of going about it– whether it be through art (I’ve always been a shit artist), exercise (except I’m guilty of picking beer over squats seven times out of ten), or through digesting and/or creating music. The latter is the most appealing outlet to me. I think I’ll always switch my Spotify to a private session to turn on some cheesy pop punk band I used to love in high school (and may or may not still totally love) when I want to feel moody. When I want a complete overdose of nostalgia and feels, I go to shows.

Touché Amoré @ The Regent Theater 2/16/18. Photo by Anthony Pham for www.BlurredCulture.com. Used with permission.
Touché Amoré @ The Regent Theater 2/16/18. Photo by Anthony Pham for www.BlurredCulture.com. Used with permission.

There’s something oddly comforting about being in a room full of people who feel just as misplaced as you do, with their arms crossed stubbornly over their puffed up chests. Feet firmly planted in a power stance in an attempt to cling to some degree of personal space. Trying not to spill their overpriced beer as rowdier young guns bang against every body in the room like poorly magnetized pinballs. Even though one’s knee jerk reaction may be to get annoyed with these kids, it’s not hard to remember being one of them. It wasn’t even that long ago, yet somehow it could feel like ages since I gave that few shits about anything.

I grew up in an area that didn’t have a whole lot to offer in regards to culture or fun. This often led to the neighborhood kids rallying together to start bands and put on DIY shows at whatever venue they had at their disposal. Some of these bands were diamonds in the rough, others fizzled out quietly. People developed a sense of community within the scene that expanded across multiple counties, sometimes even states. One of the bands who earned the most respect in the area is none other than Touché Amoré, who continues to be one of the biggest names in their genre. Many people would say they’ve grown up with the band and are thoroughly stoked on their continued success. Touché Amoré’ is fronted by Jeremy Bolm, who was already well-known in the LA area for playing guitar in a local hardcore band called STRICKEN. For a band with such humble beginnings to persevere through 1,000 shows and still exhibit an intense passion for their craft is almost unheard of nowadays– and it’s definitely cause for celebration.

The Regent in DTLA was already filling up by the time I made it through a rather extensive security check. The first thing that I noticed about the venue was that they had implemented somewhat of a valet system for their patron’s pepper spray– instead of tossing the compact yet comforting defense essential in the trash, the Regent tags your pepper spray, saves it, and returns it to you as you’re leaving the show. As a woman who has had to begrudgingly throw away plenty of pepper spray while preemptively blaming the poor bouncer for any misfortune that could very well befall me on the walk back to my car, I deeply appreciated this seemingly small sentiment. The underlying message of this extra step is: “hey, we see you, and we care about your safety.” Other venues can and should take some notes.

The first opener was Self Defense Family of New York. Spearheaded by singer Patrick Kindlon, who strongly encouraged every person in the audience to get in a van and go on tour at least once in their life. They too had a long history with Touché Amoré, so their presence at the 1,000th show made all the sense in the world.

Touché Amoré @ The Regent Theater 2/16/18. Photo by Anthony Pham for www.BlurredCulture.com. Used with permission.
Touché Amoré @ The Regent Theater 2/16/18. Photo by Anthony Pham for www.BlurredCulture.com. Used with permission.

“We met Touché Amoré about nine years and a month ago,” begins Kindlon, “we’ve played over 60 shows with them. We’ve traveled two continents with them. We’ve slept on the same floors, we’ve shared stories, we’ve shared food, we’ve shared vans… we have truly come of age with them. I don’t mean that hyperbolically- we met through Myspace, to give you an idea of how long it’s been. That’s where DIY culture thrived at the time. We had driven across the country, playing in basements for donation money, to play in LA with some friends we knew we had but hadn’t even met yet. We hit it off immediately– we slept at Jeremy’s mom’s house, we played at Clayton’s house. For about two years, the only CD’s we ever had in our van were ones that Jeremy had burned for us. It’s an amazing thing.

“When I think about the history of our band, it’s impossible not to think of Touché Amoré. They are a significantly bigger band than us, and yet they have supported us in every way possible, except for financially, which, now that we’re on the subject… just kidding. They supported us when there was no reason to. Something you may not understand if you’re not in a band is that you spend a lot of time politic-ing, around people who spend their time trying to climb a ladder that eventually ends with them working at their father’s car wash, or something. It is very frustrating when you just wanna play some fucking music. It can be discouraging. And then you run into some good-hearted nerves and it just lifts your fucking spirits.

“I just wanted to say thank you for having us be apart of this monumental moment, and for always being there in the way only best friends can. Thank you for being a band. Thank you for continuing to make important, emotional music. The five of us need it, everyone here needs it, so thank you again.”

After Self Defense Family wrapped up their set, La Dispute took the stage. Originating from Grand Rapids, Michigan, the poetic post-hardcore quintet commanded attention with their hauntingly cryptic verses and feverish yet confident stage presence. It was apparent that fans of Touché Amoré were just as enthused to see La Dispute as they were for their highly anticipated headliner. La Dispute was an obvious choice to share the stage withTouché Amoré on such an important benchmark in the band’s history; they were label-mates on No Sleep Records and collaborated on a split EP titled Searching for a Pulse/ The Worth of the World in 2010. When asked about the reasons why the two bands chose to release a split EP together, La Dispute singer Jordan Dreyer was quoted: “Both our bands share similar ideologies and approaches to music, so it made sense to collaborate on something. La Dispute tried to be aware of Touché’s strong points and tendencies musically throughout the writing process to give the record a pretty steady feel despite being from two different bands.” It’s safe to say the two bands balance each other out on an intuitive level, which came through in their live performance as well. La Dispute hyped up the entire Regent and left the crowd on tangible pins and needles.

Touché Amoré @ The Regent Theater 2/16/18. Photo by Anthony Pham for www.BlurredCulture.com. Used with permission.
Touché Amoré @ The Regent Theater 2/16/18. Photo by Anthony Pham for www.BlurredCulture.com. Used with permission.

People were visibly antsy waiting for Touché Amoré to start their set– rocking back and forth on weary legs that had been standing for too long, and swizzling around the half-melted ice cubes in their long-gone drinks. I’d safely wager most of the audience was just as tired as I was (although hiding it very well), and were as equally excited for their bed as they were for the final set.  

When Touché Amoré finally began their set, people shook off their fatigue like cobwebs and kicked into their innate compulsion to throw themselves into the pit. A dog pile of windbreaker-clad arms and Vans authentics formed in front of the stage, as close to Jeremy Bolm as possible. People regained their crowd surfing legs after a long, mundane hiatus. The cathartic experience of being in a sweaty room full of people scream singing the same pathos- driven lyrics is something especially unifying. It was endearingly apparent how important Touché Amoré was to the crowd, as well as the bands they were sharing a stage with, as well the bands they have influenced with their veritably raw emotional power. Even after 1,000 shows, Touché Amoré still had the same integral authority as when they played their earliest shows at humble, sticky, divey venues in the quietest pockets of LA county.  

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Touché Amoré @ The Regent Theater 2/16/18. Photo by Anthony Pham for www.BlurredCulture.com. Used with permission.
Touché Amoré @ The Regent Theater 2/16/18. Photo by Anthony Pham for www.BlurredCulture.com. Used with permission.
Touché Amoré @ The Regent Theater 2/16/18. Photo by Nikki for www.BlurredCulture.com. Used with permission.
Touché Amoré @ The Regent Theater 2/16/18. Photo by Nikki for www.BlurredCulture.com. Used with permission.
Touché Amoré @ The Regent Theater 2/16/18. Photo by Anthony Pham for www.BlurredCulture.com. Used with permission.
Touché Amoré @ The Regent Theater 2/16/18. Photo by Anthony Pham for www.BlurredCulture.com. Used with permission.
Touché Amoré @ The Regent Theater 2/16/18. Photo by Nikki for www.BlurredCulture.com. Used with permission.
Touché Amoré @ The Regent Theater 2/16/18. Photo by Nikki for www.BlurredCulture.com. Used with permission.
Touché Amoré @ The Regent Theater 2/16/18. Photo by Anthony Pham for www.BlurredCulture.com. Used with permission.
Touché Amoré @ The Regent Theater 2/16/18. Photo by Anthony Pham for www.BlurredCulture.com. Used with permission.
Touché Amoré @ The Regent Theater 2/16/18. Photo by Anthony Pham for www.BlurredCulture.com. Used with permission.
Touché Amoré @ The Regent Theater 2/16/18. Photo by Anthony Pham for www.BlurredCulture.com. Used with permission.

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