When I was in high school, “emo” was at its apex. Yes, I was into this era of music, with bands like Taking Back Sunday, Saves The Day, and even early Fall Out Boy being the poster boys for this scene. On the other end of the spectrum, screamo, hardcore, and post-hardcore was also increasing in popularity. However, when I stumbled upon little known band from New Brunswick, New Jersey called Thursday, everything forever changed.

Formed in 1997, Thursday released six albums from 1999 to 2011, before disbanding that same year. Paving the way for the post-hardcore genre, Thursday created a distinctive resonance filled with melodic sounds, emotionally arresting lyrics, and an adrenaline-infused energy that was peerless. While the band reconciled in late 2016, it wasn’t until earlier this year that they announced a limited 20-year anniversary run of shows on both the east and west coasts. To resemble the embryonic days of their career when playing in basements, Thursday opted to not go on a full tour or support any other bands, but instead perform in smaller venues such as the Echoplex in Los Angeles.

On night one of two sold-out shows in LA, Thursday played their breakout sophomore LP, Full Collapse in its entirety. The following evening (April 28), I witnessed them perform their opus, WAR ALL THE TIME from beginning to end. Released in 2003 on Island Records (their major label debut) Thursday’s third album includes eleven formidable tracks brimming with deep emotions, bombastic elements, and some of the most technically progressive guitar work the genre had seen at the time. While the first two albums demonstrated the group’s darker aggression and deep complexities, WAR ALL THE TIME surpassed these attributes in every way imaginable. It wasn’t strictly an emo album and it wasn’t just another hardcore record, Thursday crafted a landmark endeavor by finding ways to mesh subgenres to sound like no one else at the pinnacle of their career.

As soon as the opening track, ‘For The Workforce, Drowning’ started up with its thunderous guitars and heart-pounding drums, the crowd absolutely erupted in frenzy. Caught in the crossfire, I was in the midst of the mosh-pit. As I stepped aside to let 30-something year old men (and some women) get rowdy, I tried to relish Thursday’s performance. With this album being fifteen years old, it felt as if they were playing it for the very first time—excited, full of raw energy, and with purpose beyond a paycheck. If there’s anything I forgot about the first few tracks was its pure rapturous undertaking and exhilarating arrangements. The crowd, not for a second, ever eased up in all their craziness. For most of these people, they were reliving their past, which could have been ten or even twenty years in the making.

‘Division St.’ had always been a standout track off WAR ALL THE TIME. Bleeding with multiple genres/influences in its DNA, Thursday performed it with massive enthusiasm and passion. The fans equally engaged as they sang along to lines like “This is serious/ This is serious/ If this is serious I'll hide my heart in dark parades.” Singer Geoff Rickly dedicated ‘Signals Over The Air’ to powerful women. He mentioned it was a song that was meant to get them on the radio, on MTV at the time. You know, back when those avenues were actually relevant. Probably the most accessible song off the record, ‘Signals Over The Air’ tones it down on the screaming and finds a more melodious path to trek down. ‘Asleep in the Chapel’ also starts off in a more tender fashion before the band breaks way and starts to shred. It does, however, shift from soft to loud throughout its course, displaying a unique dynamic that felt utterly fresh and innovative over fifteen years ago. As I look toward the audience upfront, they haven’t lost a step in their pushing, shoving, and crowd-surfing abilities. In fact, it became so insane later into the show that people were getting on to stage and stage diving. Rickly jokingly made a comment about how some people just looked “goofy” coming up here on stage and thinking, “Yeah, I really shouldn’t have done this.”

The halfway point of the show delivered the piano-only track, ‘This Song Brought To You By A Falling Bomb’. With minimal vocals over the delicacy of a soft piano, it had served as an emotional centerpiece to the record and also for this live performance. Before breaking into the album’s title track, Rickly stated how this song was written about witnessing young people in the surrounding towns make suicide pacts while growing up. He mentioned how people were blaming metal music for such tragedy, but of course he didn’t concur with such statements. ‘War All The Time’ may be Thursday’s finest song across their sprawling career. With no screaming and just painstakingly vocals, Rickly remarkably interlaces childhood tragedy into an anecdote of lost innocence “in the shadows of the New York City skyline,” and regretfully proclaiming, “We grew up too fast.”

WAR ALL THE TIME was damn-near perfect matching singing and screaming, bold storytelling that was ahead of the curve, and a wall of sound unequalled to anyone at the height of their career. As the landscape of this type of music had shifted, there’s obviously still an audience for it, just not as large as it used to be. With Thursday completely back together, who knows what the future will bring for them and for the fans that had patiently waited for their return. It’s not uncommon for bands to reunite five or ten years after breaking up as Thursday is doing. Let’s just hope Thursday does it with commitment, desire, and the determination to make new music that progresses with these changing times.