The Fall of Troy @ The Agora Ballroom 9/21/2015
Surging like a flooding river, the crowd heaves forward as one living organism. A mass of bodies crests against the stage at the Agora Ballroom in Cleveland, wave after wave shouting and singing along and shaking their fists in time with the disjointed blur of riffs. I plant my legs in and try to focus on the band as the frenzied people literally punch and elbow their way through one another to be the nearest ones to Thomas, Tim, and Andrew.
The Fall of Troy absolutely commands the stage with their presence. Andrew Forsman behind the drums, Tim Ward on bass (and providing backing vocals), and Thomas Erak on guitar and lead vocals, singing and screaming while tearing through compositions that leave many guitarists in the dust and inspire others to new instrumental heights. The tour is to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Washington State band’s second album, Doppelganger.
The band played the whole album through, including their most popular single, “F.C.P.R.E.M.I.X.,” and fan-favorites like “I Just Got This Symphony Goin,’” “Whacko Jacko Steals The Elephant Man’s Bones,” and “Macaulay McCulkin.” Before playing “F.C.P.R.E.M.I.X.,” Erak addressed the crowd.
“We’re going to get this out of the way right now, and get rid of all the people who don’t need to be here,” referring to anyone who came solely to hear that song. Previous intentions aside, no one left as far as I could see. The band was just on another level.
Of course, that’s not to put down opening acts Slothrust and And So I Watch You From Afar. Both were excellent, creative, and memorable bands, and I can’t wait to listen to more music by them. However, The Fall of Troy reminded me why I fell in love with their music to begin with.
The performance was transcendent chaos.
“Turn off all the lights on the stage, and point the lights on the crowd,” says Erak to the venue’s lighting crew, prior to the song “Laces Out, Dan!.” The band is in pure darkness during the song, while the crowd is illuminated alternately between two spotlights and several multicolored strobes. The orgies of moshing that I witnessed (and participated in) during each flash will linger as snapshot memories for me, for the rest of my days. At least half of the crowd (and this place is packed) makes up the circle pit. I dodged at least three shoes during one song alone. Crowd surfers rise and fall, only to dive back into the swirling pit. The band’s spastic and heavy music combined with the visual spectacle makes the experience seem like the peak of an intense acid trip.
I haven’t moshed like that since I was 19. I feel so alive, exhilarated, even writing this, the next day.
Erak’s solos and leads were jaw-dropping and perfectly fit with the songs. Somehow he managed to play them while either singing or crowdsurfing, 90% of the time. A good few of the solos were improvised, too. Or at least, they aren’t on the album versions of the songs.
In addition to the whole Doppelganger album, the band also played “Chapter I: Introverting Dimensions” and “Chapter IV: Enter the Black Demon” from 2009’s Phantom on the Horizon and “Semi-Fiction” and “Sledgehammer” from 2007’s Manipulator and, to my utter delight, two new songs. One entitled “Suck-O-Matic,” which the band said was a Rocko’s Modern Life reference and also about blowjobs, and another, which according to Erak, was an ode to strobe lights and how much the band loves them. The Fall of Troy have an odd, almost demented sense of humor. Regardless, the new songs rocked really fucking hard and I can’t wait to hear the new record, whenever it comes out.
Thanks to The Fall of Troy for changing my life with your music. I can now die happy.