Preview: Finch at the Fillmore

Finch to play their first album, What It is to Burn, in its entirety at the Fillmore in Silver Spring, Maryland. Photo: Finch

WASHINGTON, March, 11, 2013 —There are various reasons why a band doesn’t have staying power for the long term even after achieving a significant amount of success. For bands that gain both critical and mainstream success, the most common reason behind both is the band’s ability to capitalize on the time they have in the limelight. Instead, many bands end up being defined by the one golden moment they had, hoping that the impression they were leaving would be powerful enough to be remembered over time. This is essentially what happened to the California post-hardcore band Finch.

Finch stopped officially being a band in 2010, but in late 2012 they started to tie a string of shows together in California for the 10-year anniversary of their first full-length album, What It is to Burn.  Eventually this spawned into more of a fully realized tour, which leads to their upcoming performance here, where they’ll play the Fillmore in Silver Spring on March 14th.

In 2002, after only a few together years together, Finch released What It is to Burn.  The band and the album became one of the leaders of those post-hardcore bands gaining mainstream attention, largely on strength of the single “Letters to You” and the album’s title track. The songs off the album were both catchy and dynamic, fusing elements of pop-punk and hardcore more effortlessly than a countless other band who preceded them. Not only were they getting significant rotation on the radio and MTV, but the album was favorably reviewed as well.

“It was just an easy album to make,” says Finch guitarist Randy Strohmeyer. “We went into the studio and just made the album we wanted to make with no expectations.”

This can easily be felt on the album, as the album is much more streamlined than their later efforts. Nothing about this album is complicated. But a lot of that has to do with the clean production that’s obvious on it. Everything about the band at that point, as is clear on the album, speaks to clarity of vision the band had at that time. Part of the reason they took so long between their first and second albums—in addition to the fact that the band fell apart several times—was the lack of mutual agreement that made What It is to Burn so successful.

The mixture of pop-punk and hardcore elements and the way they mix are clearer on Burn than on any of Finch’s other releases, and indeed unlike those of most other bands of similar persuasion. Finch, for example, is able to move easily from a straight ahead pop-punk song like “Stay With Me” right into the most hardcore-style song on the album, “Project Mayhem.” The rest of the album’s selections find themselves somewhere in between those two songs. Lead singer Nate Barcalow is able to switch between emotive singing and harsh screaming with ease, guitarists Strohmeyer and Alex Linares add driving punk riffs, and Alex Pappas brings in standard hardcore drumming elements like double bass and blast beats.

Finch, unlike so many other bands of their era were able to bring some of the best from both the worlds of punk and hardcore at a time when the two genres hadn’t seen a lot of middle ground over a decade or so. Not only were they able to bring these elements together. They were also able to merge them seamlessly into an inentifiably unique package. This is the main reason they were able to appeal to so many music lovers in the high school and college age crowd. 

The members of Finch are relatively of surprised by the success their recent tour has had. They’ve sold out several shows already. But their loyal audience is the exact reason why this has happened. When Finch first hit the scene in ’02, their primary audience consisted of kids in their late teens and early 20s. That sets them apart from so many other bands that are also reuniting and touring again, because Finch was popular enough—and their audience, even after ten years is young enough—to have remembered seeing them live in addition to the lingering effect What It is to Burn had on them in general.

Still, even if these fans still have a basic idea of what they can expect from Finch’s live tour, the band still has a few new things for them to see. For the entire time the band toured in support of What It is to Burn in the early ‘00s, they never played the album in its entirety straight through in any of their shows. One of the neater things about that album is the different electronic programming touches they put on songs like “New Beginnings” and “Ender,” none of which they’ve ever performed live before. Adding this in to the current tour is giving audiences a different experience than anything they’ve seen before.

Finch is genuinely happy to be on the road again playing What It is to Burn, which is still an album they feel proud of and a reminder of a time when things were easier for them as a band.  Their ultimate goal is that everyone hearing them live is able to get that same feeling. This is what everyone has to look forward to when Finch arrives in town to perform at the Fillmore on March 14th.

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Stephen Bradley

Stephen Bradley is an avid music listener and an occasional writer.  He grew up in the Washington DC area and has been embedded in the local music scene for years.  Currently he lives in Vienna, VA.   He enjoys bands that have been broken up for at least a decade.

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