Anyone who has been to a sold out show upstairs at the Middle East in Cambridge, Mass knows to expect getting close to your neighbors. It’s a venue for claustrophobes and introverts to break out of their shells and get comfortable with the community.
Luckily, last Friday’s show was perfect for those who love community, because New England’s premiere community band was headlining that evening.
Connecticut’s premiere post-rock emo collective, The World is a Beautiful Place and I am No Longer Afraid to Die (The World is) might have the longest name, and it may have the most revolving members (anywhere 8 and 18 are involved at any given time), but that doesn’t stop the band from creating and showcasing some of the most dynamic and beautiful music today. The sold out Cambridge crowd got to experience this first-hand on the second night of a four-night mini east coast tour.
The band has accomplished much in its eight-year existence—beginning in the Connecticut DIY scene, eventually branching into the torch-bearers and pioneers of the emo revival. Always present has been the band’s penchant for the atmospheric and ambient, which has become a motif for other bands to evolve and contort as the genre has expanded.
While the band has only released two full-length LPs during its existence, a string of splits and EPs have kept the band active in its many iterations over the years. Most recently, the band released a split with other New England emo-stays, Sorority Noise, in October. This split features two of the most powerful and expansive tracks that either band has ever released.
As for the show itself, the evening began with hauntingly gorgeous sounds of Paige Chaplin presenting her array of minimalistic, yet vulnerable and poignant tunes. Chaplin created spacious atmospheres with just her voice and an electric guitar—allowing many in the crowd to simply close their eyes and ingest the sounds she was producing. It was truly a transcendent performance reminiscent of Julien Baker, Emma Ruth Rundle, and Daughter.
Feel free to check out Paige’s tunes here:
Up next was Boston’s own alt-emo rockers, Animal Flag. In 2016, the band remixed and remastered its first two EPs and reissued them in a special release titled, “LP.” For those unfamiliar, Animal Flag brandishes a polarizing sound that caters to fans of downtempo and vulnerable tunes, but also to those who like upbeat and unrelenting rock tunes in the vein of Manchester Orchestra and All Get Out.
Animal Flag are notable humanitarians and activists in the Boston DIY scene, as it often puts up its merchandise sales for donation—on this night the beneficiaries were the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) and Planned Parenthood. Fans were given the option of what amount of the proceeds would go to the band, and which amount would go to one, or both of the organizations.
Feel free to check out Animal Flag’s tunes here:
The band put on an impassioned set, with many local fans singing along and rocking out throughout the set—especially to the two newest songs that were debuted that evening. The announcement of new tunes quickly sparked interest in the band’s most dedicated fans, as the band announced a new album was in the works—to be released “within the next five years,” to laughs from the band and the crowd.
In 2015, The World is released its most stunning triumph, “Harmlessness.” The album is a nonstop thrill-ride of emo goodness and is necessary listening for anyone that wants to hear some matter-of-fact songs about the human condition as told by a group of good-intentioned, misfit kids with solid DIY ethics.
On “Harmlessness,” the band made it a priority to make sure no two songs sound the same whatsoever—instead focusing on how to evolve its sounds to mold and mesh within each other flawlessly as the album carries out without skipping a beat.
As The World Is worked through its 12-song, hour-long set, it made many of these seamless transitions, tying together songs from various releases, creating an experience that felt as if all of their music was essential in that moment.
The band opened with two early tracks from its recently rerecorded and rereleased debut EP, “Formlessness,” a brilliant homage to where the band began, as the remainder of the set was dedicated to where the band has gone.
A personal favorite moment was when the band played, “January 10, 2014,” a track that many fans have latched onto thanks to its emphatic lyric, “Make evil afraid of evil’s shadow.” The lyric has taken on a life of its own as it was used in a recent online meme as a soundtrack of neo-Nazi, Richard Spencer, being punched in the face—a poignant use of the song given today’s political climate.
This night was about forgetting the chaos of the world around us, and celebrating the beautiful community aspect of music. The World Is dominated a crowd-pleasing set, hitting on a number of emotions and atmospheres that carried the crowd through an onslaught of comforting tunes in a troublesome time.