Seventeen years ago El Paso, TX post-hardcore band At the Drive-In put out one of the most important albums of their genre. “Relationship of Command” was the band’s first – and only – album to chart on the Billboard 200, and inspired a generation of bands that came after them, and took the post-hardcore genre to new heights. But one of the tragic story-lines of their era was that “Relationship of Command” never got the headline tour it deserved. A few months after the album’s release At the Drive-In broke up, right before a huge US Tour that undoubtedly would have been their biggest at that point in their career.
In 2012 the group reunited for some one-off festival appearances, but it wasn’t until last year they planned a full-scale US Tour to finally give “Relationship of Command” a chance to be heard live. That tour finally made it’s way to the northeast this week and on Saturday night At the Drive-In were at the House of Blues in Boston, MA for their first Boston area show in 17 years.
Opening the show was avant-garde punk band Le Butcherettes from Mexico. Lead by Teri “Gender Bender” Suárez Cosío the band plays a unique brand of garage punk complimented by screams, stomp dancing, and stage outfits. For example, Suárez Cosío came out onstage wearing a jumpsuit, but during the songs “Dress Off” took off the jumpsuit, revealing a blood dress underneath. Suárez Cosío takes her stage performance to a level that few do, fully immersing herself in the Teri Gender Bender character for the entire set and putting over the top theatrics together with the band’s avant-garde sound.
After Le Butcerettes woke up the crowd, it was time for At the Drive-In’s triumphant return to Boston. 17 years of waiting makes for an extra excited fan base, and as soon as the lights went down the sold out crowd began a wild night of moshing, crowd surfing, and singing. As this is the first proper tour for “Relationship of Command” the majority of the set was made up of songs from the album, starting with the set opener – “Arcarsenal.” But while At the Drive-In looks back to an important album, they’re also looking ahead to their new album “In•ter a•li•a” due out May 5th via Rise Records. The band gave a brief preview of the album, playing two songs – “Incurably Innocent” and “Governed by Contagions” – during their 13 song set.
The show was a visual masterpiece as well, with a massive backdrop with the band’s logo and lyrics displayed behind an impressive lighting rig. Frontman Cedric Bixler-Zavala was a force onstage, jumping off anything he could climb, swinging his microphone stand, and never missing an opportunity to kick up the energy an extra level. At the Drive-In are true showmen in their current state, perhaps even moreso than 17 years ago, forming The Mars Volta in the off years of At the Drive-In, Bixler-Zavala and guitarist Omar Rodríguez-López honed their live skills and are now at a level of truly seasoned vets when it comes to their live performances.
At the Drive-In’s current tour hasn’t been billed as an “Relationship of Command” anniversary tour, nor is the album played front to back in full, but it is indeed finally getting the tour it always deserved and with 17 years to prepare for it, fans of the band couldn’t be more excited.
At the Drive-In Setlist - 3/25/17:
Pattern Against User
Invalid Litter Dept.
Governed By Contagions
One Armed Scissor
Photos - At The Drive-In, Le Butcherettes - Boston, MA - 3/25/17