Underage emo fans flocked to Deep Ellum in droves Tuesday night to see AS IT IS at Prophet Bar — some were even accompanied by a parent. The U.K.-based pop-punkers have traveled across the pond this winter for a nationwide tour supporting their third studio album, The Great Depression. Centering on the controversial topics of mental health and self-harm, the album has been their most well-received. Along for the ride are Point North, an up-and-coming pop-punk foursome from LA, Hold Close from Springfield, Missouri, and Baltimore-based hardcore outfit Sharptooth.
A Voice For The Innocent, a nonprofit that provides resources to victims of sexual violence, sponsored the tour. Two Dallas-based volunteers from the group were in attendance to talk to fans about this issue and offer any support.
“Anyone can go through sexual assault, and we want to help them,” the reps told us before the show. “The most important thing for victims to know is that they are not alone.”
This sentiment was one expressed by all on this tour, with AS IT IS at the helm encouraging an inclusive, safe environment at their shows.
Point North came out strong with a fun, energetic set to kick off the night.
“We are a band that stands for equality in all shapes and forms,” lead vocalist Jon Lundin said after their opening song. “Music is for everyone.”
Lundin then informed the crowd that this was their very first tour as a band, something we wouldn't have guessed based on their performance. They were pros and exuded confidence, even throwing in a few impressive jumps and twirls on the tiny, cramped stage. The highlight of their set was their catchy new single “Gasoline.” Although the song was released just last week, they performed it as if they’d been playing it for years.
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Next up was Hold Close, who gave a musically solid performance. However, their stage presence was a bit static and even lackluster at times. The crowd kept it polite, though, with nodding heads and even obligatory hand-waving when prompted. Hold Close’s sound just didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the lineup. They’re more of a slow burn. But they brought it home with a lively performance of “Separation” from their latest record, Time, ending their set on a high note.
The emo scene suffers from an egregious lack of female representation, something that Sharptooth’s Lauren Kashan aims to change. If anyone can do it, she can.
“I know I talk a lot,” she shouted after the hardcore rockers finished their opening song. “You wanna shut me up, get more women on this fucking stage.”
Kashan was an absolute force onstage, and her sincerity was infectious. She shared her personal experience with sexual assault and invited fans to find her after the show if they needed to share their own stories with someone. Kashan seems to have perfected the complex art of screaming, as well. Her unclean vocals are on par with Every Time I Die’s Keith Buckley and many of the other influences she credits.
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Even if you, like this writer, tend to cringe when bands get political onstage, it was impossible not to get a little riled up by this group’s driving intensity. At one point, Kashan ran off the stage and jumped onto the bar, Coyote Ugly-style, for the ending of “Fuck You Donald Trump” off their latest record, Clever Girl. The horrified looks on the faces of the moms in the crowd were priceless. Sharptooth’s powerful lyrics combined with Kashan’s relentlessness make this group one to watch.
Eventually, AS IT IS made their way to the stage, lead vocalist Patty Walters making a delayed entrance to a throng of screaming fan-girls. Walters’ image evokes the overdone, contrived version of emo popularized in the early 2000s, a stark contrast to his bandmates’ more understated looks. But it works for him.
Their set was a healthy mix of new material, like the title track and “A Handwritten Letter” off The Great Depression, and some of their standbys, including “Hey Rachel,” which incited an enthusiastic mosh pit. That song, catchy though it may be, is not exactly mosh material, but OK kids. AS IT IS gave an exciting, dynamic and crowd-pleasing performance, complete with tons of mic throws, jumping, twirling and head-banging. They closed out the night with “The Wounded World,” during which Kashan returned to the stage to scream along.
This show is perhaps best summed up by relaying the overheard thoughts of a fellow attendee: “This is the weirdest mix of bands I’ve ever seen, but I love it.”