Texas is the Reason ’s show at Bimbo’s was not sold out, but it sure seemed packed as I struggled to find a good vantage point on Friday night. When I eventually got a clear view, I saw that the stage was hazily lit by dark blue-purple lights. The amplifiers and drum kit on stage were glowing, heavily draped with white Christmas lights. The visual, in its stark simplicity, was stunning.
This perfect, quiet kickoff was the reassurance I needed to prove that this wouldn’t be the gaudy, overwrought reunion that I had feared, but the graceful, tasteful gathering that I had hoped for.
Texas is the Reason was originally created in a flash flood of sad basement bands in the early ’90s. This era in rock saw an extreme surplus of angst and overly-emotional, self-indulgent music that created the term emo and then turned it into a dirty word. Distracted by all the Dashboard Confessionals and Saves the Days, it’s easy to forget about the bands that started the movement and influenced an entire era of musicians — the bands worth listening to.
Texas is the Reason was one of those watershed early emo bands. The band only released an EP and one full album before imploding in 1997, but its take on post-hardcore had already quietly spread its influence across the industry. Just around 16 years later, the group has resurfaced for one final nine-stop tour before it officially and permanently disbands.
The audience, which had been waiting at least a decade, to see this band, screamed as Texas is the Reason slunk onto the stage and started tearing through its first song. The hiatus took no toll on the band’s live presence. Guitarist Norm Arenas’ reverential expression seemed like transcendence as Scott Weingard swung his bass around like a weapon and Garrett Kahn crooned a whine, looking appropriately pained.
The sound, packed in taut layers over Chris Daly’s focused drumming, packed a serious punch. The musicians seem to play with great ease, as their years of experience have created an unbelievably tight groove. The entire performance, more than anything, seemed incredibly sincere. The lyrics didn’t seem outdated or outgrown, the songs were treated with just as much respect and conviction as they would be if they were new.
Fans responded in kind, shouting “thank you” between the songs. Some sang along, but most watched quietly and intently, stoically swaying and nodding. In the midst of shouted requests, one woman called out, “Anything! You guys rock! Play whatever you want!” This comment perfectly embodied the content, appreciative atmosphere of the concert.
The entire show felt like a meeting of old friends, catching up. The band clearly felt this closeness and camaraderie as well. “We’re happy you’re with us,” Kahn shouted, before asking, quite seriously, “Who’s coming to Los Angeles with us tomorrow? We’ve got room in the fucking van! Who’s coming?”
The band made no attempt to shield the crowd from its future state. “How many of you are seeing us for the first time tonight?” Kahn asked. “Well it’s the last time. It’s bittersweet.” After about an hour, the set drew to an emotional close. “This will be our last one,” Kahn told the crowd. “These songs belong to you now. They’re yours.”