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Planes Mistaken for Stars Live at San Francisco’s Bottom of the Hill

Words and Photos by Bobby Cochran
Words and Photos by Bobby Cochran

The dissolution of Denver’s Planes Mistaken For Stars in 2007 was taken hard by the small but hearty following they’d developed since their inception in 1997. Different bands sprouted up afterwards including guitarist/vocalist Gared O’Donnell’s Hawks & Doves, Chuck French and Neil Keener’s band Git Some (the duo are currently members of Wovenhand and have been since 2014) and periodic reunion shows without original drummer Mongo Ricketts.

When Deathwish Records announced they not only signed the re-formed group, but were also releasing an entire album of new material (2016’s Prey), the internet erupted with shouts of joy.

The seasoned post-hardcore group hit the road for a full US tour in October, and on December 17 made it to Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco, a tiny club with a long history and a tradition of hosting amazing underground bands.

Show openers and tourmates Hesitation Wounds, made up of members of Touché Amoré, The Hope Conspiracy and Trap Them, brought a blast of frenetic and explosive hardcore. Next, Southern California’s Retox blasted through a 40 minute set of spastic, angular post-hardcore sounds, accentuated by abstract images projected onto and a makeshift screen behind them.

Planes Mistaken For Stars stormed the stage like the post-hardcore kings they are, opened with “A Six Inch Valley” from 2004’s Up In Them Guts and proceeded straight into “Glassing” from the same album. Fists pumped and words were screamed as the packed room joined in joyous camaraderie with O’Donnell and crew. They followed with a couple songs from Prey, “Dementia Americana” and “Riot Season” before launching into the one-two punch of “Belly Full Of Hell” and “To Spit a Sparrow”. It was impossible to suppress a dopey grin at the start of each song. As an introduction to “Clean Up Mean”, O’Donnell appealed to everyone to take care of each other, to support those who might be struggling, and to hang in there when things get tough. A solid request, which the crowd seemed to take to heart.

The Planes Mistaken For Stars hits came one after the other… “Dancing On the Face of the Panther”, “Never Felt Prettier, “Fucking Tenderness”, “Church Date”, and even the oldies “End Me in Richmond” and “Sicilian Smile” made it into the set. By the time they wrapped their set up, it felt like the show had only just got going. The crowd yelled for more, but they’d come, said their peace, made their statement, and let it be what it was. But goddamn, it was good while it lasted.

-Bobby Cochran

Hesitation Wounds

Retox

Planes Mistaken for Stars

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