Burn It Down
The Emerson Theater
Friday, July 22
It's fitting that Burn It Down's last album was called Let The Dead Bury The Dead, because that's what happened Friday at the Emerson. Standing near the back for most of the show, I wanted to burn the image of this band in my head one final time; I was witnessing a eulogy of sorts. While each member of the band has moved onto other things, I got the feeling that no one else in the room, including the band, had ever gotten closure until tonight. Playing hundreds of shows and releasing three EPs in as many years before 2000's Let The Dead Bury The Dead (their only full-length album and a masterpiece by my count), the band announced 2001's Hellfest performance in New York would be their last, but they still had unfinished business here in their hometown.
Singer Ryan Downey's politics were never a mystery, and to anyone who went to their shows, it almost became a running joke that his left-wing rants only ran so long to make up for the band's short songs. Tonight though, he kept most comments short but did give props to old Indy HC bands like Emotion Zero, gave thanks to Carl from Happy Couples for putting the show together and commented on how many of the people in the room were now in their late 20s or early 30s and how many of us had children and everyday responsibilities. Everything he said was meaningful and hit home and despite a few lyric flubs, the man put on a good show and his voice was true to the records, smoothly going from the burly growls and screams to the sing-y parts.
Brian "Bob" Fouts, probably the busiest drummer in the world, did double duty with Burn It Down and About The Fire, who played earlier that night. Barely recognizable was bassist Jason McCash, with his pirate beard and long hair, who, at times, headbanged alongside guitarist John Zeps in an Ace Frehley and Paul Stanley kind of way.
Band reunions will take you back. This show was no different. Seeing familiar faces and watching a band performing songs you haven't heard live in years will do that to you. During what is arguably the Burn It Down anthem, "Slave: Identify," from the self-titled EP, I suddenly realized I knew all the words and it's been forever since I'd heard even the studio cut. A protest song at its core, anyone can scream along during the chorus, "I ... Will ... Not!"
Feeling old and tired from working the NAMM show that day, I tried to avoid the pit most of the night until my buddy Aaron came up during "Every Man's Got A Devil" and grabbed me by the back of my shirt during the breakdown and literally pushed me from the back of the theater straight into the pit right at the peak of the song's climax. Running in circles, throwing my fist in the air and getting the wind knocked out of me made me forget for a few seconds that it had been way too long since I did this.
And walking away from the show that night, I was glad Burn It Down existed. And I was glad I got to pay my final respects.