On Saturday, December 3, the Mohawk Place in downtown Buffalo hosted an EP release show for an up-and-coming local, modern post-hardcore band called Debt to Nature. And much like the city they come from, you can instantly tell the amount of work put into their songs to make them work.
Debt to Nature, on the outset, seems like any other modern post-hardcore rock band. Their releases, such as their first EP From the Start, back this theory up, with angsty lyrics and guitar riffs not out of place from a Pac Sun store or a Warped Tour stage.
But to me, at least, what set this apart was the presentation. You can hear loud, fast music in any number of establishments and get the point. But hearing it live is something different. Singer Michael O’Connor may look like a lumberjack, but delivers the lyrics with alternating power and levity that it’s amazing he can still speak at the end of the set. Bassist Josh O’Connor was confident enough in his abilities that he would engage in reverse fretting, attempt to balance his bass in one hand, and walk out into the crowd to his friends. Not to mention the hard work guitarist Brian Macijewski and drummer Nate White had to put in to keep the whole act moving at a furious pace.
The real ace up the sleeve for this band is how easily they establish control over the crowd. I assume the crowd present goes to these kind of post-hardcore shows all the time, given the amount of head banging, people moshing by themselves, and hand gestures, but even one as uninitiated as myself could get sucked into the methods after a few songs. During the few solo guitar breaks, the audience started clapping over their heads on their own, with the singer encouraging more once it got going.
Some of the most fun moments of the night involved just how much control the band had over the crowd. Members of one of the opening acts, The Otherme, were invited onstage to sing The Darkness’ song “I Believe in a Thing Called Love.” The audience tried to sing the famous falsetto chorus line, to various results. While the band’s music may not be for everyone, this was one particular moment the entire crowd was getting into.
Another moment didn’t involve anything the band played, but during a song break, either the lead singer or someone in the crowd shouted out “somebody” like the first word from Smash Mouth’s “All-Star,” and the entire crowd managed to sing the first verse all the way up to chorus. At that point, the singer demanded they stop as they played more.
Either I don’t get out to see enough shows like this or this was a special occasion, because the crowd actually demanded an encore successfully. Debt to Nature were happy to oblige, feeling like they conquered the evening. Probably on their way to conquer more as well.