The Sound of Animals Fighting w/ Hail the Sun, Concrete Castles, Kitty, and Wstdyth | 1.16.23, 7:30pm | Red Flag, 3040 Locust St | $29.50-75 | All ages
On Monday, February 16th, The Sound of Animals Fighting brings their 2023 tour to Red Flag. The band is currently promoting the release of a new EP, Apeshit, their first release in over a decade. The tour features an eclectic cast of opening acts: fellow California post-hardcore act Hail the Sun, Philadelphia indie rock band Concrete Castles, dance pop/house artist Kitty, and emo rapper/DJ wstdyth (“Wasted Youth”).
The Sound of Animals Fighting (TSoAF) is a Los Angeles-based supergroup featuring members of many other popular emo/post-hardcore bands, including Circa Survive (vocalist Anthony Green), Rx Bandits (guitarist Matt Embree, drummer Chris Tsagakis, vocalist Rich Balling), and Finch (guitarist Randy Strohmeyer, bassist Derek Dohery). The project hails from the period in the early 2000s when emo and post-hardcore bands were increasingly flirting with song structures and instrumentation borrowed from progressive rock (think bands like The Mars Volta and Coheed and Cambria). The band was originally known for their penchant for performing in animal masks, although they have abandoned this gimmick in recent years.
Given the huge rotating lineup, and its members’ obligations in other bands, the TSoAF discography is rather erratic, with the band releasing three albums in their active period in the early 2000s—Tiger and the Duke (2005), Lover, the Lord Has Left Us… (2006), and The Ocean and the Sun (2008)—before recently reuniting to release the Apeshit EP in December 2022. TSoAF’s albums took a decidedly more kitchen sink approach than the more focused releases of the members’ primary projects, including lengthy detours into experimental sound collage and spoken word (e.g., “This Heat” from Lover, the Lord Has Left Us…). The looser structure of TSoAF albums also inspired some of the best vocal and instrumental performances from its respective members, and is arguably essential listening for anyone who is already familiar with these musicians through their other projects.
After researching previous TSoAF tours, it appears that the upcoming show at Red Flag is the project’s live debut in St. Louis, although its associated bands have played here previously. Most recently, Circa Survive played at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in 2019, and Rx Bandits played at Fubar, the midtown venue that was Red Flag’s predecessor, in 2016. TSoAF’s 2023 tour kicked off in the band’s native California on January 6th and included a performance at this year’s Kill Iconic Fest in Anaheim, CA. After their St. Louis date, the band will play Chicago and Detroit before the tour ends with three shows on the East Coast (Worcester, MA; NYC, NY; and Philadelphia, PA).
A diverse cast of supporting acts has been supporting TSoAF on the current tour, reflecting the eclecticism within the band’s own music. Post-hardcore bands like Hail the Sun and Record Setter (the latter of which will not be at the St. Louis show) would be expected for a tour like this, but an indie pop band (Concrete Castles, whose debut album featured a cameo from TSoAF/Circa Survive vocalist Anthony Green), a sultry trance-inflected dance pop artist (Kitty), and a sad-boy Soundcloud rapper (wstdyth) probably are not. There has always been an undercurrent of indie pop and electronic music in TSoAF releases, however, and the Apeshit EP finds them embracing this more explicitly, particularly on tracks like “Wolf” and “Duche Das”.
With the pedigree of the band itself, and the eccentricity of the supporting acts, TSoAF’s Red Flag show promises to be a memorable evening. Fans of both technically complex, progressive-minded alt rock and post-ironic dance and rap music should find it an excellent way to entertain themselves on a federal holiday.
Check out our playlist of TSoAF’s setlist for the current tour for a preview of the material they will be playing on Monday. | David Von Nordheim