The Juliana Theory

Live 10.13.2001

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While the Juliana Theory's ambitious Epic debut dropped in late 2002, this relatively brief live set was captured a full year earlier in their hometown of Pittsburgh. As such, its ten songs are culled from the band's first two LPs, which were issued through powerhouse Seattle indie Tooth & Nail. Live represents the fulfillment of the JT's multi-album deal with that label, a deal that vocalist Brett Detar has been quoted as saying he and his mates were unhappy with. None of this back-story is very apparent on the album, which was recorded at Pittsburgh's Club Laga just a few months after the Epic deal was signed. It finds the Theory to be a capable live act, if a little perfunctory. Their fans are certainly rabid, loudly singing along with early gems "Duane Joseph" and "Music Box Superhero," and Detar definitely gathers energy for his vocal from their fervor. The band, too, seems most engaged during the louder numbers (especially during "Understand the Dream Is Over"), which often trade in the recorded tendencies toward emo for muscular punk revivalism. But synthesizers and push-button percussion creep in during the album's more subdued second half, with the breathy vocal loop of "Into the Dark" becoming particularly grating, since the processed instrumentation dilutes the kinetic power of guitars that the Juliana Theory seemed to be embracing earlier. They do end strong with the anthem "If I Told You This Was Killing Me Would You Stop?," during which you can just picture the kids jumping in unison to the song's rousing chord changes. Live 10.13.2001 is a present for those very fans, who might not be ready to let the Juliana Theory go quietly into the major-label night.

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