By Bonnie Orozco
Three years ago, after a year of silence and inactivity from Armor For Sleep, Ben Jorgensen, vocalist and guitarist issued a statement that the band had broken up. There weren’t any farewell shows- it was already long over by the time he broke their silence. On May 18th Armor For Sleep reunited for what everyone thought would be their final goodbye at the Bamboozle in New Jersey- until they announced a string of reunion shows across the country, and one taking place at the Glass House in Pomona, California.
The opening band was called Pebaluna, a four-piece band from Long Beach. While this band seemed like an odd fit for this lineup,(seeing as how they’re not similar to Armor For Sleep at all) they definitely captured the audience’s attention with their talent. The venue was only about one fourth full during their set and those weren’t there missed out on something special. I was reminded of The Hush Sound and Grace Potter from their jazz rock feel, duo vocalists Lauren Coleman and Matt Embree (formerly of RX Bandits). Lauren has a beautiful voice that’s capable of strong to smooth, sweet sounding vocals. This band overall impressed me; I expect them to go far and do great things.
Second up was I The Mighty from San Francisco. They seemed to have many fans in the audience and had a similar overall vibe to Armor For Sleep. Signed to Equal Vision records, their sound is a blend of experimental, alternative and old-school emo. Their stage presence was very energetic and they were moving all over the stage. By this time the venue was half full and many of the people there seemed to be there for I The Mighty. They worked the crowd very well and played several of their old songs, which many in the audience knew and sang along to. At one point vocalist Brent Walsh expressed his disbelief that they were opening for Armor For Sleep, as they have been fans of them for years and were inspired by them to be in a band.
It was evident that they weren’t playing these reunion shows for profit; they aren’t signed to a record label, didn’t have a lot of merch, no CDs, and they weren’t recording their set to make a DVD. Jorgensen explained, “We’re really not a band anymore, but we decided to come back to play a few shows. We realized that when we broke up, we were a bunch of dickheads and didn’t really say anything for a long time”. These shows were to makeup for what happened after the breakup and to say goodbye. Furthermore, they didn’t have a crew to set up their gear; bassist Anthony and Guitarist PJ set up the band’s instruments.
The band played nearly an hour and a half long set, full of old fan-favorites mainly from their first two LP’s, “Dream To Make Believe” and their breakthrough second album, “What To Do When You Are Dead”. As expected, Armor was phenomenal as they always have been. They started off their set with “My Town” and even though I was in the photo pit and couldn’t see the crowd, I could feel (and hear) the energy of the crowd. With just the first few chords I was transported back 8 years to the first time I heard that song- just 14 years old when I first got into alternative genres of music. Every song they played brought back good memories.
While the venue wasn’t sold out, the fans that were there filled the empty space with their enthusiasm and voices that sang along to every word. I had seen Armor For Sleep once or twice before, in around 2006 and 2007 and the energy of those shows were different- all of us, the fans were younger and there was more dancing, moshing (with circle pits), and raw energy. The energy here was still enthusiastic but no moshing or circle pits here- it seemed more subdued and sentimental as everyone there still cared about Armor For Sleep and were there to say a final goodbye. They ended their set with a 2-song encore that included Ben performing the hidden track from “What To Do When You Are Dead” and the rest of the band joined him for what was definitely the crowd’s favorite, “Car Underwater” and “End of A Fraud”.
This show was the best way to lay Armor For Sleep to rest for good. If you were able to attend one of the three reunion dates, what you witnessed was really special, the end of one of the most loved bands of this music scene.