Written by Samuel Barker
Dec 10, 2002 at 08:00 PM
ImageDespite releasing 6 stellar albums over the past 10 years, as soon as you mention Avail’s name, the first thing you hear is “they are THE best live band I’ve ever seen.”

For a band that has been together over a decade, it seems inconceivable that no matter how many times you experience an Avail show, you walk out knowing you have just witnessed one of the most intense live shows you could ever be a part of. This is only part of the attraction of Avail, but for tonight, it was the main focus as kids huddled together on a cold December night to welcome the boys from Richmond, Va. to town.

The set began with Joe Banks playing the pained minor chord opening of Order, which quickly exploded into pure chaos. Vocalist Tim Barry leaped into the audience to get people moving and give everyone a chance to be involved in the set, from the beginning.

Drummer Ed Trask and Gwomper were amazingly tight, which gave Banks the ability to play a few more solos than he has on tours past. Beau Beau seemed to be a bit under the weather as he never strayed from the stage and stuck to mostly backing vocals, with a few gags.

Model saw Barry take his position in the audience once again. As the bass groove broke into the aggressive verse, the majority of the audience screamed in unison with Barry, as he bounced around in the “pit” and gave everyone one more chance to be a first-hand part of the set.

With sweat pouring and vocal chords strained, the audience members held on for the entire set, screaming the songs back to Avail and never breaking from heated dancing. It is experiences like this that make music something special.

Opening the show was Philadelphia’s The Curse. Bringing a straight-ahead punk/hardcore sound, The Curse was a great appetizer for the powerful Avail set. Quick songs with no frills set them apart from the mind numbing middle acts, Hey Mercedes and The All-American Rejects.

The All-American Rejects were the second band of the night. They felt like a poppier version of the Juliana Theory, complete with lame drum loops and keyboard played by the drummer. The best way to sum of this band is this: When the “lead” guitarist stepped to the front of the stage, holding his guitar out like any rock star heading into a solo would do, he played a clean chord progression. The moral here is, even though you may try to act the part of rock star, it takes talent to pull it off.

Hey Mercedes was the final band to play before Avail. They’ve been on the entire tour thus far and it’s weird to see a boring emo band opening for Avail. I though seeing J-Church before them at the Fat Wreck Tour was odd, but this one took the cake.

I’ve seen Hey Mercedes before, they bored me then and they bored many people so badly this time that they headed out to the back patio area of Mary Janes to get some fresh air. All the emo kids in their skin tight, belly button high thrift shop shirts stayed inside to nod in unison and make out with their girlfriends.