project86atcoj1Kudos to the crowd for knowing what to do when Project hits the stage.

 Project 86/Cycle Down
The Cup O Joy Christian Coffee House
Green Bay, WI
2 March 2013  

The friend of mine counts Project 86 among his favorite bands. Said friend (with whom I had last seen "Weird" Al Yankovic in concert) makes for good company and conversation, plus he's culinarily adventurous enough to first make a visit for supper to the vegetarian-leaning eatery I enjoy on the same block as the P86 venue. The gal who runs the venue knows me and my work scribbling about Christianny music and could get us in gratis for the meet-and-greet  before the proper show. It's on.

Though it had been a while since any of the labels to which they have been signed has serviced me with their music, P86 was responsible for one of the more memorable festival concerts of my life, from the time about a decade ago when the band was associated with a faddish genre held in such contempt by  bandleader/vocalist  Andrew Schwab, who calls it the n-word (nu metal!). Under a tent the size of a warehouse and to a Sunday afternoon crowd overwhelming comprised of teens'n'tweens seemingly interested more in bouncing a giant beach ball or two above their heads than they were in actually rocking and rocking hard. Schwab was having none of it, batting nearly contemptuously the inflated rubbery orbs the few times they bounced his way, as if the toys that so amused his listeners were both fueling and and an outlet for the aggression already in the music and Schwab's shouty, rappish couplets.

No such bouncy distractions were present tonight. Schwab went so far as to compliment The Cup O Joy crowd on "knowing what to do" at a show, more like the European audiences to which his band has played-who come to enjoy and participate in a concert-and not U.S. crowds inclined to text people on their cellphones, kvetch about being bored and otherwise maintain a distance from the music around them. 

If part of that knowledge about how to conduct oneself at a show includes moshing at the peril of any non-slamdancing attendees' desire to stand toward the lip of the stage, better the crowd should be ignorant. Or so says this participant who may be speaking from an age more advanced than the median one at the  show, but, yeah, that kind of  aggro gyrating got for old me somewhere around the time of my third punk rock show.

With that caveat of complaint about a behavior Schwab at least didn't actively encourage, the semi-manageable melee before him and his bandmates seemed to have propelled them into a fiery run through "Fall, Goliath, Fall,"  the lead single/video from their latest Kickstarter-funded longplayer, Wait For The Siren and about a dozen more from throughout their catalog.

project86atcoj2The assault by which they assayed those tunes seemed all the more vengeful when compared with what transpired not long before that in the venue's basement, a cozy surrounding of plushly stuffed davenports & chairs and full bookshelves that may more closely equate to the coffehouses of the  late '60s-early '70s Jesus hippie days on which The Cup is at least loosely modeled. It is there where the band engaged in a question-and answer session and an unamplified set-without even a microphone for Schwab's vocalizing, here more of a singerly, almost whisperry tone in leiu of the aforementioned shout/rap cadence. As an example of why it would serve me and you better for me to not take such a long spell between attending and reviewing a concert, I can't recall the song from this pre-show gigging about escaping from the nu metal label, but that they would foist such a number on their public they performed in this unelectrified setting should suffice to put them in an aesthetic league head and shoulders above erstwhile contemporaries such as Limp Bizkit as well as survivors of the movement such as those who, perhaps desperately,  deign to lend their presence to Insane Clown Posse's annual Gathering Of The Juggalos bacchanalia (uh, sorry, P.O.D.?).

Before P86 hit the upstairs stage proper, however,  local godly hard rockin' veterans Cycle Down warmed up the crowd. A little rawer, perhaps less supple in their poetry and nuanced in their attack, they were distinguished by their singer's black hoodie and nasal piercing as well as possibly the widest-smiling drummer in the whole of  metal/hardcore/screamo/whatever. That he was on loan from a band with an even fiercer  name than ether the band for whom he was subbing and that of the headliners for whom they were opening again testifies to 1)my need to get these reviews written sooner, and 2)just how delightfully off-putting a show of apparently Christ-born joy can be in such a grim, fighting-darkness-with-the-appearance- of-same setting. 

Jamie Lee Rake

Photos courtesy of The Cup O Joy Christian Coffee House

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