[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n the midst of countless recent op-eds about the existence/nonexistence of a so-called “emo revival,” singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Evan Weiss has been steadily plowing ahead and releasing music with several bands, including Stay Ahead of the Weather, Their / They’re / There, and his solo/sometimes-not-solo project, Into It. Over It. Now touring with a full band in support of 2013’s Intersections, Weiss is removing himself from the solo acoustic opening sets he used to play while on the road with hardcore bands. Having spent last year opening for pop-punk stalwarts Saves the Day, Into It. Over It. have been hitting halls around the US on one of their first full band headlining tours.
At the very least, February 20 at the Sinclair was an exercise in jaw muscles and a concert-goer’s ability to say a lot of really long band names one after the other. Thank the gods for the opener, Beverly’s own Dreamtigers, for providing some shortened sanity to potentially the longest bill on paper that was still only four bands. The night moved from the wide-ranging folk-tinged indie rock of Dreamtigers to the upbeat, more pop-rock feel of A Great Big Pile of Leaves. As the bouncing started, so did the small mosh pit in the middle of the floor, as the band jammed through tracks off their latest record You’re Always on my Mind, including “Snack Attack,” “Flying Fish,” and “Pizzanomics.” When in doubt, reference food. These were coupled with favorites from their older records like “Alligator Bop” and “We Don’t Need Our Heads.”
After A Great Big Pile of Leaves, things slowed down a bit for the ambient, guitar-heavy drone of The World is a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid to Die [hand cramp]. The collective’s set was definitely heavy, punctuated by some onstage collaboration with spoken-word artist Christopher Zizzamia. The combination of cello-laden guitar-emo with spoken word honestly made for an interesting situation; you wouldn’t think many people would be doing much but standing with rapt attention at the mixed art forms of sung, instrumental, and spoken word, and yet, all of a sudden, there was more moshing. Maybe it was the emotional power of Zizzamia’s words or the distortion and delay-heavy guitars and cello, but the Sinclair’s floor turned into slowly moshing mass of bodies in no time at all.
A few things about Into It. Over It.’s Evan Weiss: one, the guy knows how to connect with an audience. From having to control rabid punk fans with nothing but an acoustic guitar and a microphone, he’s built up an incredible ability to constantly have everyone in whatever room he’s in wrapped around his finger. From conversing with a recently-married Framingham man on the balcony to telling stories about his cat Miles, Weiss punctuated each song with jokes and anecdotes, but without ever leaving too much time between tracks. Second, his voice is powerful. Full of raw intensity and emotion, throughout the night he would lean back from the mic stand, yelling with his head turned up, and it still sounded like he was right next to the microphone.
Even though the band was promoting their latest release, they threw in plenty of tracks from Into It. Over It.’s earlier recordings: 52 Weeks, Proper, and 12 Towns. There were few, if any, songs where the whole crowd wasn’t belting along every word, a testament to Weiss’ lyric-writing abilities and his ability to make every song as honest a picture of himself as possible. It was a set with broad shifts in dynamic, from the slower opening of “Anchor” to the in-your-face punk intensity of “Heartificial.” Matt Fazzi from A Great Big Pile of Leaves joined Into It. Over It. to help with keyboards from the band’s newer tracks, including “Spinning Thread” and “Obsessive Compulsive Distraction.” As the set went on, Weiss only picked up the intensity, with “Brenham, TX,” “Wearing White,” and “Midnight: Carroll Street” proving crowd favorites. With the night almost over, Weiss and co. came out for just a single encore, “Humboldt,” off his split record with singer/songwriter Koji.
After a night of honest storytelling in song form, one would expect an artist who just left it all onstage to go back to the green room and prep for the long trek to the next city on the tour, but Evan and Into It. Over It. are not most artists. After doing their due diligence signing autographs for loyal fans, Weiss stayed at the Sinclair’s downstairs bar even after everyone had left, only leaving to pack the van after laughing with friends and tossing back a few more beers.