Local rock group Trench captivates crowd with dreamlike album debut

Local rockers Trench captivate at dreamlike album release show

Syracuse act performs their first full-length LP at The Lost Horizon with support from local bands.
Published: December 2, 2018
ron ballweber
Ron Ballweber of Trench electrifies the crowd into another dimension.

On a stormy Saturday night in Syracuse, a local band transformed The Lost Horizon into a foggy, kaleidoscopic dreamscape.

When Syracuse-based rock group Trench released their debut full-length LP Ritual Love earlier this year, it created an immediate buzz within the Syracuse music scene. Their shoegaze, rock and dream-pop blend of genres caught the attention of radio DJs and promoters, boosting the band’s local popularity. Last night, the four-piece ensemble hosted a concert to celebrate the album.

The jam-packed show featured a performance by Jimmy Stadt, the frontman of Polar Bear Club, a post-hardcore band that originated in Syracuse and has gained national popularity, along with support from three local bands, Goodnight Forever, Difficult and Lily Grave. All four acts played musically solid sets, and at 10 p.m. sharp, it was time for Trench.

In almost complete darkness, a fog machine blasted a cloudy blanket across The Lost Horizon concert venue. A low hum grew louder and louder as the group slowly took their places on stage. Blue and orange lights flicked on and the blurred colors created a chromatic veil between the band and the audience. The opening, shimmering guitar strums of “Bend,” the first track on the record, were played as vocalist Chris Reilly crooned “come right into the focus/bending all the colors.”

Jimmy Stadt
Jimmy Stadt, the frontman of 'Polar Bear Club,' plays at The Lost Horizon.

Ritual Love on its own is an emotional album. It is somehow both gentle and gritty, mellow but painful and lyrically haunting. These feelings were converted into something palpable thanks to the combination of the group’s intricate lighting design and dizzyingly beautiful musical execution. The second song of the night, “Liminal,” featured a driving, hypnotic beat carried out by drummer Dan Sanborn and sway-inducing instrumentals from Ron Ballweber (guitar) and Roberto Becerra (bass).

Trench opted to play their 8-track album front to back with little conversation between songs. While this can often feel cold and unfriendly, the choice felt appropriate for the setting. By refraining from interrupting the setlist, the audience was kept in the moment, never leaving the daydream.

When they did choose to address the crowd, it was to thank them for their support and to show respect for the opening acts. “We’re so honored to be here and to get to share the stage with so many talented musicians,” said Reilly at the halfway point of the show before transitioning into the back-half of their LP.

The final four songs were accompanied by warm light flashes of red and purple, contrasts from the blue hues at the beginning of the show and complimentary to tracks like the dreamy and distorted “Strawberry Moon.” Upon completion of the final song on the album, “Tunnel Vision,” the band thanked the crowd once more before the house lights came back on and the audience was thrust back into reality.

Trench is a band with a clear artistic vision. Their performance was both visually and sonically captivating and converted “Ritual Love” from a collection of songs into a full, tangible experience. The group is gearing up to announce a larger tour, and if you have an opportunity to see them perform, do it. You won’t be disappointed.