by Matt Kelchner
Baltimore screamo-turned-melodic-post-hardcore group Pianos Become The Teeth released their sound altering debut on their new home at Epitaph Records last October but have yet to give the album a proper tour. The last time they paid a visit to Philadelphia was to open for the massive double bill of Title Fight and Circa Survive. That all changed Friday night as they kicked off their nationwide tour in the basement of the First Unitarian Church. Joining the stage with them for the occasion were tourmates Gates and Loma Pietra.
Lead singer Kyle Durfey mentioned early in their set that the first stop on a major tour is always the one where the band works out the kinks and makes any needed adjustments. With the way Durfey and his bandmates played, it was clear that they were ready for the road ahead. Keep You, the group’s most recent release, was put on full display Friday night. The slow guitar chugging from “April” started things off. The song’s slow build pushed the level of anticipation of hearing these new songs even higher than before Pianos Become The Teeth walked on stage. They powered through two more Keep You songs, “Lesions” and “Repine” before switching gears back into their intense, heavier sound.
While there is a clear focus on the band’s change, the night wouldn’t be complete without revisiting their beginnings. Only three songs were played from the band’s previous release, The Lack Long After, one right after another. The album’s sprawling, closing track “I’ll Get By” was sandwiched with two of the hardest hitting songs from it, “I’ll Be Damned” and “Good Times”. And then, just like that, they shifted back to Keep You selections.
After playing a handful of other takes such as “Old Jaw” and “Ripple Water Shine”, Pianos Become The Teeth ended their set with their song that best sums up the band stylistically, “Hiding”. A track that appears on a split released back in 2013 with Touche Amore, it acts as the bridge between The Lack Long After and Keep You. For a band trying to straddle such a drastic direction shift in sound, “Hiding” was the perfect ending. After a brief break, Pianos Become The Teeth walked back on stage to play one fine song, “Say Nothing”.
Openers for the evening were made up of Gates, from neighboring New Jersey, and the Bay Area’s own Loma Pietra. Gates began the show with their own blend of melodic punk that pushes closer to pop boundaries. Airy, soaring guitars seemingly drifted from song to song as vocal hooks pushed each tune. Quite the opposite could be said for Loma Pietra. The noisy, thrash meets hardcore blistered through song after song, all the while drifting into their own melodic sense from time to time.