At first glance, with the current environment ripe for the return of '90s sounds, a package tour featuring Torche, Hum and Failure seems a little weird, tricky even. But there’s something astute and historically encompassing about such a venture given that, for one, the majority of these musicians filed their teeth during that decade; two, they are all respected and well-regarded by their peers; and, finally, there’s an honesty at play that can only be explained as follows: none of these bands are novelty acts. These are the real deal and, as such, can only bring the goods.
Opener and local boys done good, Torche, always have a certain bar to meet when performing in South Florida. Steve Brooks and company know this, and the sheer energy and gusto they bring to the stage is wildly appreciated. Rocking an album’s length of a set, they did not disappoint. Consummate professionals, they kept it simple and drew from their vast discography, opening with “Grenades” and closing with “Harmonslaught.” Likely a deliberate move, their set list on Saturday night reflected the more muted, subtle elements of the band that truly make them great.
There were even moments in which the sound, already slightly ethereal by choice, seemed like a little more air had been pumped in, lending a Hawkwind-esque vibe that worked perfectly to set up the following bands.
If you're wondering how Torche got aboard this tour, we have the answer for you: According to bassist Jonathan Nuñez, it was at the request of Failure’s camp that Torche be brought on. Pretty cool. And, as stated before, Torche did a great job of bringing their myriad influences — all typically and unjustly shoveled under the “stoner metal” genre — as the sonic groundwork for Hum and Failure's sets.
Hum’s career in the '90s saw the Champaign, Illinois band thrive, garnering critical and commercial success with their sole single, “Stars.” And while they could’ve easily taken defeat and rested on the laurels of being a one-hit wonder, Hum forged along until 2000, when they decided to slow things down. As such, Hum never really broke up, instead staying active and "reuniting" a handful of times over the last decade or so.
Expectations were also high, then, and with a first-floor-only Revolution Live now filled with fans, Hum came to rock. Their set was as to be expected and as true to form as one could want. Matt Talbott is a little bit of a Steve Albini lookalike from certain angles and carries the band’s chunk with a quiet, almost introspective dignity. Did they play “Stars," you ask? Yes, they did. And they buried it toward the end, which was completely fine since their set relied more heavily on tracks from the vastly superior and criminally underrated Downward is Heavenward.
As per singer Ken Andrews’ conversation with us, headliners Failure have returned to pick up some shattered pieces left behind from their past, and for some South Floridians, it was a treat to see them grace the same stage they shared with Sponge back in ’94, when Revolution Live was still known as the Edge. Though we didn't attend then, many of the few who did were in attendance for this show. Still, a hearty audience Saturday night was proof that Failure’s profile, be it because of the breakup or from their music aging well, has continued to grow, finding a receptive audience for their work, new and old, in the current rock 'n' roll climate.
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Touring with Queens of the Stone Age’s Troy Van Leeuwen is an added plus, given his longtime involvement with the band after joining to support their masterpiece, 1996’s Fantastic Planet. Drawing from their vast catalogue of music, Failure’s set was as spirited as it reputedly was 21 years ago. While that is a nice example to draw lines from, it is significant in the band’s resurrected spirit to make amends with their fans and with themselves. Energy is important. and it's often lost when a split occurs, so it was nice to see that they’d lost none of it. Though it'd be nice if they didn't wait another 20 years before coming through South Florida again.
All three bands will likely never escape their '90s roots, and why should they? Through their embracing of the sound and influences that shaped them individually, these are bands that will go on, however they choose to go on, on their own terms. It’s nice to see that the '90s, rather than undergoing a clichéd revival, are rather having a strong showing out of the bands that actually defined the sound and created some of the decade’s most memorable music.