Jason Wade feels it.
Story and Photos by Andy ArgyrakisThe last time Lifehouse was scheduled to play the Vic Theatre was September 11, 2001 and despite that show being canceled due to obvious circumstances, it was rescheduled later that December. I remember attending that sold out show and being moved by the band's timely lyrics of hope and spirituality throughout the national crisis, along with members' contagious enthusiasm and energetic presentation of material from their major label debut No Name Face. As I fast-forward a year and a half later to the band's new album and tour stop at the exact same venue, the troubled state of America remains while front man Jason Wade's inspirational vignettes are just as applicable in wartime as they were following the initial terrorist attacks. Regardless of that lyrical prowess, Lifehouse's burning desire to convey such messages in fiery alternative rock settings have disappeared in favor of lethargic presentations steeped in their sluggish decay. Based on the sagging quality of their latest Stanley Climbfall endeavor it's early to see why, especially given the fact that it could never live up to the standards of a double platinum disc that spawned "Hanging By a Moment" (the most played radio song of 2001). Despite the band's effort, their attempts at equal sophomore status were futile, as Stanley Climbfall fails to extend upon their budding innocence with experimental evolution, instead finding Lifehouse restricted to the safety zone of scruffy vocal moans cross-pollinated with sweeping guitars and a series of assembly line beat manufacturing.
The first single off Stanley Climbfall called "Spin" made an early inclusion in Wednesday's 90 minute set, but like cuts culled from the rest of that disc, it failed to touch the almighty sing-a-long powers of "Hanging By a Moment" or even follow-up hit "Sick Cycle Carousel." Current single "Take Me Away" has much more of an awakening effect on record than "Spin," though by that selection performed late in the set, Wade and company run out of the little steam they took the stage with in the first place. Unfortunately, the same sleepiness seeped into "Everything," a track normally known for its spine-tingling electric buildup, which was instead simply phoned in before an understandably unresponsive Vic crowd. Oddly enough, the group chose to play such selections back to back, and within such close parameters they sounded extremely similar. (There was even a point during a guitar solo in "Take Me Away" when I was able to lean over to my girlfriend and sing a few lines of "Everything" that fit like hand in glove within what sounded like a carbon copied time signature and chord progression!)
Besides such plugged-in rockers, Lifehouse is also known for its share of acoustic ballads laden with open-ended spiritual euphemisms. A brief acoustic set included past album cuts "Breathing" and "Somewhere in Between," followed by a semi-stripped stab at the new cut "Sky Is Falling." During this segment, the energy level dipped to its all time low, and as I looked over the tip of the opera box directly at the sparsely populated balcony, virtually the entire section was sulking out of sheer boredom and disinterest.
That scene and Stanley Climbfall's slowed down sales only verified that the sand in Lifehouse's hourglass is more than half expired as its better moments were on the last tour. It's really a shame, especially considering the group's positive lyrical light combats most of the TRL trash circulating nowadays, but as alluded to in the current record's title, even group members probably realize they've past the climbing stage and about to take the fall.
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