2013 was the year that “emo revival” boiled over out of the niche DIY community from which it came, largely because of so many now-classic albums coming out in such close succession, and with those albums all turning 10, bands have been celebrating. Citizen did a Youth tour, The Wonder Years did a The Greatest Generation tour, TWIABP did a Whenever, If Ever tour, Superheaven did a Jar tour (with Cloakroom who released Infinity that year) Balance and Composure did The Things We Think We’re Missing shows (and will do it as a livestream on 11/25), and maybe this is just tangentially related but Deafheaven are in the midst of a Sunbather tour (with Touché Amoré who released Is Survived By that year). But with all due respect to all those amazing bands and albums, the anniversary tour that most captures that turning-point era is Foxing and The Hotelier‘s joint The Albatross / Home, Like Noplace Is There tour. (Home, Like Noplace Is There was technically released in early 2014, but this tour does extend into 2024.)
Foxing and The Hotelier were both in the right place at the right time when more people than usual started paying attention to DIY emo, and these ambitious, genre-defying, easy-to-like albums were kind of the perfect albums to give “emo revival” its breakthrough. The “scene” loved them, and so did the people who used to turn their noses up at the scene. Foxing and The Hotelier did a co-headlining tour together when these albums were new, and they continued to lead parallel careers, always looking over their shoulders at what the other band was doing and engaging in some healthy competition. For my money, both bands made better music after these albums, but the Albatross/Home era was A Moment and they might not have had the chance to evolve the way they did without it. Foxing have parted ways with some members over the years but otherwise never stopped going, while The Hotelier slowed down for a while–as Christian Holden said on stage at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Thursday night (11/16), this is kind of a “reunion tour” for them. (When a fan yelled out “never break up!”, Christian gave a facial expression that did not suggest that you should hold your breath for them to keep going.)
Neither band totally seems like the type to overly indulge in nostalgia, and that seemed especially clear when The Hotelier didn’t open with Home, Like Noplace Is There. Instead, they opened with “Goodness Pt. 1,” the non-album track released ahead of Home‘s followup album Goodness, and then proceeded to play a selection of songs from that album and their 2011 debut LP It Never Goes Out. Christian said at one point that they’re celebrating Home, Like Noplace Is There by not playing any songs from it, and they were of course joking, but I honestly wouldn’t have put it past them. The Hotelier have never been known to play by anyone else’s rules.
Once they did play “An Introduction to the Album,” it was like being brought right back to 2014. Every person in sight was yelling every word, and the band was at the peak of their powers. It’s not possible to recreate the charm that existed during this band’s organic rise, but in some ways, it was even better now, and certainly bigger. They sounded fuller than ever with their expanded three-guitar lineup, and the crowd singalongs last night were even louder and more impassioned than they were back in the day. As the album went on, the energy that arose during “An Introduction to the Album” stayed on that extremely high level for every song. Home, Like Noplace Is There may as well be a greatest hits, and the crowd certainly acted like it was. Every song was received just as warmly as the last, every song hit just as hard as you remember. Seeing it live again after all these years also reminded me that Home, Like Noplace Is There can be a pretty weird album. The Hotelier snuck in all these tricks that they borrowed from places like folk punk and screamo and quirky indie rock into something that became identifiable as a poppy, popular emo album, and Christian’s lyrics were always some of the most insightful that this genre had to offer. It’s no wonder that Home aged as well as it has.
Seeing The Hotelier do any tour at all in 2023 felt like a triumph of its own, but Foxing are always touring a lot, and The Albatross‘ three biggest songs–“Inuit,” “The Medic,” and “Rory”–have been staples of their live sets the whole time. Those are also all located in the first half of the album, so the real treat came during the album’s second half, where Foxing took the opportunity to play songs they hadn’t performed in years (or ever) before this tour. I liked watching Foxing reconnect with those deeper cuts, and seeing them do it was a reminder that The Albatross is (probably) weirder than you remember too. The “hits” are among Foxing’s most immediate songs, but watching the band and the crowd zone out to those more immersive later-album songs was something special.
As with The Hotelier, watching Foxing was a trip back in time to the days when their sets were entirely Albatross songs because they (almost) only had Albatross songs. Even in those days, Foxing were one of the most intense rock bands you could see live, and that’s only strengthened in the years since. They just get totally lost in the music and leave it all on the stage, and last night was no exception.
While The Hotelier opened with songs from other albums, Foxing closed that way, with four more songs and then a one-song encore that pulled entirely from their last two albums, 2018’s Nearer My God and 2021’s Draw Down The Moon. I started this review off by saying Foxing made better music after The Albatross, and they made that abundantly clear at the end of this show. YMMV, but the best part of Foxing’s Albatross set for me was all the non-Albatross songs they played afterwards. “Grand Paradise,” “Draw Down the Moon,” “Lich Prince,” “Nearer My God,” and “Beacons” are next-level songs and Foxing gave them next-level performances. I know we’re supposed to be celebrating the past, but I walked out of Music Hall of Williamsburg feeling excited for what Foxing might do next.
Another treat at this show was the opening set from Emperor X (aka Chad Matheny), the long-running cult artist that’s long been an influence on The Hotelier especially, and it was a nice twist on the “nostalgia tour” format to have the show begin with an underrated artist who paved the way for the headlining bands. Chad’s set was performed entirely solo with a guitar uke and a synth/sampler, and it was both awesomely weird and weirdly awesome. His songs seesawed between folk punk and synthpop, and his witty stage banter was as arresting as his soaring voice.
The tour continues at NYC’s Racket tonight (11/17) and the current leg wraps up with two Boston shows this weekend. The next leg goes down in February with Title Fight offshoot Glitterer opening. All upcoming dates here.
Foxing also celebrated The Albatross‘ 10th anniversary with The Albatross: Ten Years, an album featuring cover and re-imaginings of the songs by newer emo and emo-adjacent bands: Sweet Pill, Home Is Where, Prince Daddy & the Hyena, Carly Cosgrove, For Your Health, Insignificant Other, Hey ily, and Colleen Dow (of Thank You, I’m Sorry). It’s an awesome way to keep the emo fire lit and bridge generation gaps, and if you haven’t checked that out yet, you can do so here.
More pictures from the MHOW show by Amanda Hatfield below…