Bromance was in the air Sunday night as Braid took the stage at Slim’s. The on-again, off-again band recently reunited after a seven-year hiatus just in time to play its 600th show, and the members seemed genuinely grateful for the opportunity. On the final stop of their West Coast tour, these Illinois post-hardcore trailblazers thanked their fans by playing through their beloved and influential 1998 album Frame & Canvas in its entirety.
Awash in a sea of stripes and plaid, each step in the transformation between the emo kid of yesteryear to the hipster of today was visually represented in the crowd, from checkered Vans and studded belts to highwaters and Sperrys. Slim-fitted band tees were rampant, most touting obscure bands from the early Aughts. Aside from skinny jeans and thick-rimmed glasses, the only clear unifier of the group was an air of excitement and an incredible familiarity with the slurred lyrics of Braid’s back catalog.
The overwhelmingly-male audience showed their appreciation not by singing every word back to the band as expected, but by animatedly singing them to each other. I felt as if I had stepped out of a rock concert and into a boys’ club on Nostalgia Night.
Frame & Canvas, a masterpiece of early emo, was transformed by the audience from a diatribe of love lost and anguished youth into a shout-along tribute to the glory days. What the band lacked in bravado and the audience lacked in numbers was made up for in full by earnestness, wide smiles, and an overpowering sense of camaraderie.
Mosh pits turned into group hugs, and group hugs turned into a giant circle of fans with arms draped around each other’s shoulders. The heartwarming spectacle caused singer Bob Nanna to pause and declare, “This is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen” before jumping offstage and into the circle, where he took his time hugging audience members before jumping back onstage to finish side two of Frame & Canvas.
The feelgood mood of the night endured through Braid’s entire set without falter. Even when guitarist Chris Broach was extremely unsuccessful in his attempt to crowdsurf, his failure seemed not pathetic, but endearing. If Braid hadn’t stolen our hearts already, Broach certainly sealed the deal when he later declared with a smile, “you guys kicked LA’s ass!”