Last Night: Underoath Farewell Tour at House of Blues
More to the point, during one rare lull in the action, an audience member cried out "Walking Away" -- a track off the band's second EP. "We aren't gonna play that, I'm sorry man," replied Chamberlain, seemingly genuine in his apology. "You know how it is."
As the crowd and the band seemed to contemplate this, Chamberlain turned his gaze downward. "You look just like Chris Dudley," he said to someone in the crowd, just on the other side of the barricade -- speaking about the band's longtime keyboardist. "You should come up here and trade places."
Sure enough, up he came -- who wouldn't given the invitation -- and shook hands with band members before being offered a spot to the side of the stage. "You don't have to stay there if you get bored. You can't hear anything back there man, believe me."
On that note, House of Blues solidified its claim as one of the best venues in Houston in regards to sound production. Bands like Underoath are never easy to make shine: bass can sound muddy and indistinct yet still manage to overwhelm the rest of the band. Even off axis, standing at the main doors, the band sounded excellent, something not many mid-size -- and certainly few large arenas -- can claim.
As the band took the stage for their three-song encore, you could see people crush in from the usually busy smoking patio, the audience abuzz to take in the last few moments of what has been Underoath.
If Underoath finally evolved past their "Taking Back Sunday on steroids" cloak on Define the Great Line, they were happy to carry on one token in the form of the ever-pressing and heartfelt lyrical tone in songs like "Writing on the Walls." In this moment, Spencer Chamberlain's vocals were hardly necessary as the entire crowd seemed to chant every line along from start to finish, this time far louder than they had before, certainly sensing the urgency.
Appropriately Chamberlain and Company saved "A Boy Painted Red Living in Black and White" for these last moments. Bellowing along with the crowd "Tonight's your last chance to do exactly what you want to, and this could be my night, this is what makes me feel alive..." Self-awareness is nothing if not a musician's greatest weapon.
In this moment -- and throughout the night -- Underoath seemed to happily embrace their demise, fully aware of the dignity in going out on their own terms. Knowing full well their music has always been meant for these long, slow but necessary goodbyes -- a musical ode to overcoming that torturous high school break up, cathartic in its pain.
The mood at House of Blues seemed to follow the band, this group of people, happy to have the chance to say a bittersweet goodbye to something so seminal in their lives. Happy to holler along one last time to these songs that had such profound effects on them long before tonight.
Personal Bias: I've probably unfairly judged Underoath ever since I downloaded The Changing of Times in college because someone said they sounded like Converge. That person was a damn dirty liar.
The Crowd: As mixed as metal shows get: Beards here, scene kids there, very high female count. You get the distinct feeling many in attendance have "outgrown" Underoath musically but came to show reverence to their first crush.
Overheard In the Crowd: "I missed this whole scene. I just figured I would could come check them out since it's their last show. I can always just go get a drink across the street" (at Dirt Bar)
Random Notebook Dump: It's hard not to get chills when a band cuts sound and lights and the whole crowd begins softly chanting "Drowning in my sleep, I'm drowning in my sleep..."