Vanna has been a mainstay in Boston’s hardcore scene since its formation in 2004, and has been touring since 2006. To many fans like myself, it came as quite a shock in April when the band announced that it would be breaking up; the only consolation was that the band had one last summer to tour. On June 15th, the band played its last hometown show at the Brighton Music Hall in Boston, and I got the chance to see what turned out to be an incredibly powerful and emotional show.
The show opened with two local acts, Actor|Observer and Crisis A.D. By the end of Crisis A.D.’s set, members of the crowd had started to mosh; much of the pit was open, however. They were followed by the first touring act of the night, Ghost Key. The 5-piece Peoria group sounds like a mix of Beartooth and Of Mice And Men, emphasizing fast tempos, catchy choruses and colorful guitar leads. This shined during their set, as did vocalist Austin O’Brien’s story. An inspiring figure, O’Brien and his band’s mission of spreading positivity was later referred to by Vanna singer Davey Muise as an extension Vanna’s own goals.
Following Ghost Key was the Rochester-based progressive metalcore band Sirens & Sailors. Doug Court’s frenzied blast-beat drumming meshed well with the group’s dense guitar grooves and the unending barrage of screams by vocalist Kyle Bihrle.
By the end of Sirens & Sailors’ set, the ceiling fans that originally kept the venue cool just could not keep up with the energy of the crowd. Everyone was hyped for Vanna, without question.
Vanna opened what turned out to be a twelve-song set with two newer tracks: “Toxic Pretender” off of their 2014 record VOID, and “Pretty Grim” off their most recent effort, All Hell. The two songs, which talk about the impact of bad influences as friends, were dissonant and chaotic pieces that brought the crowd to life.
The rabid buzz that Vanna ignited with “Toxic Pretender” and “Pretty Grim” carried on throughout the long set. By the time they played “Safe To Say,” the fifth song of their set, the mosh pit was wall-to-wall, and as far back as the venue’s two bars. When the band played “Scarlet Shroud,” the crowd screamed along with vocalist Davey Muise, shouting “I’ve seen the dead come along.” Later on, Vanna played “We Ate The Horse You Rode In On,” and invited the crowd to pack in as close to the stage as possible (Brighton Music Hall has barriers set up a few feet in front of the stage as security).
Ahead of the last song of Vanna’s set, “Digging,” Muise took a moment to thank the crowd for supporting Vanna for the last 13 years, and especially after he had joined the band in 2009. He also told the story of how he came to join the band, referring to his own attendance of small hardcore shows when he was younger. He went from there to remind the crowd of everyone’s worth as a person, and that help is available for even the most hopeless of individuals. This was extremely fitting for Muise, as he plans to tour as a motivational speaker following the tour’s conclusion.
Vanna played a two-song encore, comprised of “I Am The Wind, You Are The Feather” (off of 2006’s The Search Party Never Came) and “Flower,” also from All Hell. These two songs were especially emotional due to the impending nostalgia of the band’s breakup. While these two songs were satisfying, I was hoping to see “Dead Language,” my favorite song by Vanna.
While the encore is traditionally the end of a concert, it was not for many Vanna fans. A line for VIP guests reached all the way across the venue, displaying just how much Vanna’s music means to so many of its fans.
At the show’s conclusion, Muise remarked, “All good things come to an end, but all good things begin again.” While this is true of Vanna’s ending as a band, the real good may just beginning – if this show is any example, the impact of Vanna’s music will create a lot of good in the world, and we may be just beginning to see it.