Jordan Dreyer had an incredible story to tell. Of course, he was telling stories all night through the lens of La Dispute’s violent prose. From tornadoes to stabbings to suicides, he and the rest of La Dispute wove intricate tapestries, as vivid as any book of poetry. But the most impactful story that soared through Dreyer’s microphone was not a fictitious one crafted with far-off characters and settings. Instead, Dreyer told the crowd of his first “religious experience,” when he and some friends, on a whim, went to a five dollar basement show to kill time. Kill time they did but, nearly ten years after the concert, Dreyer still sounded euphoric because, despite the fact that “they used another language,” the headlining band moved him in a way that church never could. That band was Tokyo’s finest musical export: Envy.

The double billing of Envy and La Dispute felt momentous, not just because of Dreyer’s intense personal connection, but because the concert showcased two brilliant post-hardcore bands at different levels of maturation. In La Dispute, I could see Envy’s past, and in Envy, I could see La Dispute’s future, creating a show that felt profoundly whole.

After a solid opening set by brooding punks Wildhoney, Envy quickly set up and ripped into their newest album, Atheist’s Cornea. Envy have been playing a mad-capped and powerful version of screamo for over 20 years now, but recent material has put them into post-rock territory. Still, they opened with the slashing “Two Isolated Souls,” one of the most brutal cuts from Atheist’s Cornea. Vocalist Tetsuya Fukagawa had a stately presence, even through the most violent songs, commanding a tremendous amount of power just through his microphone. His ability to switch from quiet spoken passages to sung verses to punishing screaming only compounded his control of the stage.

Envy only played six songs, but they were stretched out to wonderful lengths, further cementing their post-rock tendencies. Nobukata Kawai and Masahiro Tobita’s guitar work provided the set with sheer beauty at times, pleasantly recalling Alcest and Deafheaven. This was best shown on the triumphant “Footsteps in the Distance,” which was propelled by a thunderous and uplifting guitar line that crashed down during the choruses.

Wildhoney used deep blues and purples in their lighting scheme, but Envy’s stage was awash in pinks, golds and light blues. Despite the music often dipping into darkness, the lighter palette fit perfectly, lending a comforting hand to songs like “Footsteps in the Distance” that demanded shouts of happiness. There was plenty of moshing during Envy, but I spied a few manly hugs during the calmer moments and a few couples slow dancing.

La Dispute proved to be a perfect counter point right off the bat with “A Departure.” On album Wildlife, it’s a broken and stripped down affair, but in person Dreyer bounded around the stage as the extra space was completely filled with guitar and drum work. That was a common theme throughout La Dispute’s set. Much of their subtler work came from their most recent album, Rooms of the House. But each of these tracks were turbo-charged, jumping in BPM and cutting out down time. That made the already burly songs even stronger, with the survival story of “Hudsonville, MI 1956” becoming even more desperate as Deyer’s characters attempted to live through a house being destroyed by a tornado. The nearly math-y “I See Everything” was pushed to a faster clip, and “King Park” evolved into something of unimaginable violence. “King Park” was only third in the set, but it arguably defined the show, showcasing dual guitar interplay and Dreyer’s cracked and falling voice. In the minute details, a series of snapshots flickered in the background: pictures that could have been taken decades ago on a family road trip. They usually displayed something benign that became frightening in La Dispute’s context. A cave, a park, the wilderness flicked by during “King Park” as Dreyer traced the path of a teenaged gang-banger who killed an innocent bystander. As the climax erupted, Dreyer described the scene of the killer in a hotel room, screaming “Can I still get into heaven if I kill myself?” as the photos went black.

There were a handful of moments that caused the devoted to burst into tears, but no moment quite had the shattering quality of “Edward Benz, 27 Times.” One of the finest songs from La Dispute’s grand record Wildlife, “Edward Benz, 27 Times” relates the story of a schizophrenic man who stops taking his medication and nearly stabs his father to death. On album, it’s an absolute heartbreaker; live, it brought people to blubbering masses.

That was the magic of La Dispute and Envy. Dispute did a number on our souls, and Envy gave us strength. But, at their best, both were invigorating, life affirming bands.

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