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It can take years for a band to get anywhere. Outside of the ‘next big thing’ bands that go from hype to hit within 18 months of forming, there are countless acts on smaller, or even major, labels that plug away building an increasingly loyal fanbase with every successive album. But what happens when a band who have been making inroads with a certain sound see that style become flavour of the month, and they miss the gravy train? This is the problem facing veteran post-hardcore act Thursday. Formed in 1997, their cathartic and confessional sound – influenced by the likes of Sunny Day Real Estate and Quicksand – became part of the musical genre that was perhaps crudely labeled emo. Initially reluctant to embrace major labels and promotional videos, they saw many similar bands go on to success. By the time they released their 2003 major label debut, third album War All The Time, ‘emo’ had became a trend typified by skinny boys wearing tight T-shirts, trucker baseball bats worn at an angle and Buddy Holly specs.

Although they still have a huge following, as tonight’s packed Millennium Music Hall show testifies, they never had the success or arguably recognition that the likes of Jimmy Eat World, Saves The Day, Taking Back Sunday and My Chemical Romance had – possibly because unlike them, they never had three words in their name. Thursday have maintained their support base by being very much a fan band. They play an annual gig around the New Year period in their native New Jersey for their local fans. This kinship with their supporters seeps through their every pore when on stage, along with the masses of sweat they all work up. Despite their often gloomy music, the group are clearly happy just to be playing live, and thank the audience several times for coming to see them and allowing them to earn ‘beer money’ by being in a band.

Lead singer Geoff Rickly is in a much more jovial mood than his intense image would lead you to expect, asking they audience to admire just how buff their shirtless drummer Tucker Rule – Tucker Rule, what a brilliant name! – is. Having reached a post-major label stage of their career, and signed to Epitah Records, Thursday have decided to move on from their trademark sound, and recent album No Devolution moves closer to shoegaze with elements of electronic music. However, rather than alienate long-time fans with material from their risky new direction, they split their set between the new album and their 2001 Full Collapse set.

The first four songs are drawn from No Devolution. Rickly then tells the audience that this year is the tenth anniversary of Full Collapse, their last album before signing to Island, which is widely considered their masterpiece. They then play said album in its entirety, and finish with recent single Turnpike Divides for the encore. For a band to indulge their fans by playing their most revered work from start to finish, omitting their major label years entirely, shows just how strong their connection with the audience is, and illustrates why Thursday will no doubt still be around in years to come when the crest-of-a-wave emo bands have become a very distant memory.

Words and photo: Paul McGarvey