Thoughts on La Dispute & why you should see them in Arizona next week

For those of you unfamiliar with La Dispute, get familiar. Much like this publication, La Dispute is a unique band out of Grand Rapids, Michigan. But, luckily for all of our southwest readers, La Dispute will be at the Nile Theater in Mesa, AZ, next Wednesay, December 11th with Touché Amoré and Empath.

This writer struggled to classify their genre, so he took to the internet. Their Facebook page lists their genre as “music,” which he would say is accurate, and Wikipedia says “post-hardcore,” which he thinks they have evolved away from, but he gets it. The band signed to Epitaph is currently comprised of Jordan Deyer (vocals), Brad Vander Lugt (drums), Chad Sterenberg (guitar), Adam Vass (bass), Corey Stroffolino (guitar).

Photo by Pooneh Ghana

The signature La Dispute sound features two main vocal sounds: there’s the callous, almost detached spoken word sound and the more passionate, intense, dirtied, yelling sound. Often, Dreyer crescendos from the former to later and subtly shifts back multiple times a song. It makes for an incredibly dynamic sound, then mix in the melodic, repetitive, ethereal-sounding instrumental backing with an occasional touch of heavier, distorted riffs, and you have a sound as unique as snowfall in Phoenix.

La Dispute’s lyrical subject matter is incredibly poetic and often touches on subjects that are uncomfortable to discuss. Themes include loss of a child to illness, gang shootings that hit an innocent bystander, falling out between lovers, and the list goes on. The best way to describe the overall content is acknowledgement of the coldness of the universe. Some find it depressing, some find it empowering. Personally, this writer thinks that touching on the harder topics draws a deeper emotion and reflects a bit of mature artistry, especially when closer inspection of songs draws goosebumps from his arms.

Signed to Epitaph in 2018, La Dispute released Panorama in March of 2019 after a 5 year wait since their last album, Rooms of the House. Panorama features all the classic La Dispute sounds and motifs that you’d expect, yet, somewhat different from their prior albums. While the story-telling of the past albums have gone together to make up a bigger story, Panorama follows one long narrative broken up into acts-- and staying true to classic La Dispute, full of tragedy. Even the instrumentation leads from song to song, giving the entire album a holistic experience. This album, compared to others, also features a bit more subtlety. It features a much quieter sound that swells into a grand ensemble, much quieter than in the past, making the contrast much greater, and therefore the grand end, grander. On a full end-to-end listen through, it's actually kind of difficult to tell where one song ends and the next begins; that’s not a bad thing. On the contrary, this makes for a much more artistic, poetic, well-thought out piece, rather than a bunch of “bangers.” Overall, it is an excellent album and artistic experience.

Tickets are still available to next Wednesday's show at the Nile Theater here. Show at 8PM, doors at 7PM.