Friday, December 26, 2014

I Am the Avalanche at the Bowery Ballroom

Vinnie Caruana
Vinnie Caruana was the vocalist for Long Island-based melodic hardcore punk band the Movielife from 1997 to 2003. The Movielife released three EPs and two full length albums before disbanding. Caruana formed the Brooklyn-based post-hardcore outfit I Am the Avalanche in 2004, releasing a self-titled debut in 2005. Caruana rejoined the Movielife in 2010-2011 for reunion shows, released a debut solo EP in 2013, and provided the song "It's Been Way Too Long" to the soundtrack of the film Bridge and Tunnel in 2014. I Am the Avalanche's third album, Wolverines, was released on March 18, 2014. The band presently consists of  Caruana, guitarists Brandon "Aggro" Swanson and Cory Perez, bassist John Oliva and drummer Brett "the Ratt" Romnes.

Latter day punk rockers often do not look like their spikey-haired, leather-and-studs predecessors. I Am the Avalanche is a short-haired jeans-and-t-shirt kind of band. This also expresses something about where the band has taken punk rock, from angry rebellion to emotional introspection. At the homecoming concert at the Bowery Ballroom tonight, passionate vocals, smooth musicianship and thoughtful lyrics marked I Am the Avalanche. The band opened with "Where Were You?," which referenced the devastation brought by Hurricane Sandy but in a broader light saw Caruana accusing himself for not being present to his friends and family during hard times. Even while Caruana affected a sensitive emo guy who hurts, the band's rocking guitars and slamming rhythm section drove the music to volcanic eruption. It seemed like every song was a rallying anthem, designed for audience singalongs and stage diving, and both of these goals were well executed and accomplished. Tonight was the band's last concert for some time, and also the final performance with the band for Swanson. Swanson had announced earlier in the month that he was leaving the band amicably to pursue other interests. For this occasion, IATA's former guitarist Michael Ireland and bassist Kellen Robson joined the band for one song, appropriately "Gratitude." For the encore, Caruana came onstage with an acoustic guitar and started a solo version of "Symphony." Moments later, the other musicians joined him on stage and the song was completed as a band. The show ended with "Brooklyn Dodgers," and Caruana's final move was to dive off the stage into the crowd below. For IATA, maturity set in, but still retained a bit of wild side.

Visit I Am the Avalanche  at