In their concert here at Calvin, La Dispute will be returning to its roots. The band originated in Grand Rapids eleven years ago, and it is those roots that bring them back here once again. The band first began through the Division Avenue Arts Collective, known as the DAAC, which is a volunteer-run DIT (do-it-together) venue that used to be based on Division Avenue. This concert will be held in an effort to revive the venue that was shut down in August of 2013. After the building in which they held events was sold, the DAAC was left without a permanent home, but many do not see that event as being the end of the DAAC. The proceeds of this concert will go toward the DAAC and the venue’s efforts to find a new location. Through this concert, La Dispute is remembering the help they received at the start of their career and working to bring back an organization that promotes the arts.
In addition to returning to their Grand Rapids beginnings, La Dispute has recently come out with a new album that has a story to tell. The lyrics of the songs on the album “Rooms of the House” come together to tell the story of a breakup and how memories linger in places long after the events have passed. It tells how the relationship sinks slowly even when the love is still there for the narrator, and meditates on the memories of good times in the midst of the bad. The story begins on an uneasy note in “Hudsonville, MI 1956”, and in “Woman (in Mirror)” we are introduced to the couple that is heading for the end. In the song, the narrator looks back on a time watching her put on makeup in the mirror when he writes,
And I watched you in that apartment somewhere from across the room
But it’s all a haze I remember vaguely lights then staring there to you
It’s the slowest days by the bathroom that somehow never seem to go
Where I watched you put your make-up on
The smallest sounds leave the clearest echoes
All the motions of ordinary love
In this song, it is apparent that most of what they do has become a motion, but for the narrator there is still a sense of fondness in the midst of the ordinary. Listeners continue to hear the remembrances of this relationship as it progresses toward “Extraordinary Dinner Party” when the narrator begins to come to terms with his own mistakes, including not saying what he was feeling enough. He says,
I thought of the day in a tie in the kitchen I sat and I watched you put make-up on
Thought of the day in the basement when I played house
I felt ashamed that I’d stayed in my head in the same place for so long
Because I was afraid to change
But that’s not an excuse to stay
The narrator begins to see where he went wrong as he looks back on these memories that appear throughout the album until he begins the move toward acceptance and moving on in “Objects in Space”. He says,
And I sat there for hours
In the living room first
Then in the dining room
Moving things around
Picking things up and seeing where they took me
To what place in history
What moment on our timeline
Where we were, where I was, where I thought we’d end up
In this house or on the highway
Driving somewhere near Christmas
In the desert or anywhere else
And I put them in boxes
At this point the narrator has begun to see where he went wrong, and though he still cherishes the good memories that are now over, he puts the memories in a box and moves on.
Through all of these songs, the narrator dwells on the ways that the intangible is linked to the tangible. The memories are triggered by physical objects, and the speaker wonders how the two are linked. Are objects and places the containers that hold memories? He never comes to a definite conclusion, but the thought comes up in most of the songs. The memories of what is past surround the narrator, but he is able to move past the pain and accept both the good and the bad.
- Avery Johnson
Don't call this an art project.
this is science, this is progress.
and don't pretend these are heartfelt words,
we are children dressed as surgeons
but disturbed by the sight of our scars.
and now we carry scalpels to trace the scarring
resting somewhere on the line between my house,
your heart and into your home.
where you lay sleeping like a ceiling fan in winter,
gently turning as the wind reaches its fingers through the window
just to hold you, like i held you.
pressed like a rose between my fingers or like stones
i keep in pockets meant to weigh me underwater.
La Dispute, “The Surgeon and the Scientist”
La Dispute’s lyrics often sound more fitting for a book of poetry than heavy metal music, as the band creates a beautiful marriage between thoughtfully crafted words and the electricity of heavy metal.
Born and raised right here in the Grand Rapids area, the five band members are creatively bending the heavy metal genre and spreading their music throughout the world with their newfound musical success. The band was created in 2005 and released their first full-length album Vancouver the following year. In 2008 the next album, Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair, was released. La Dispute is especially well known for offering an intense live performance, with Jordan Dreyer’s vocals leading the way; guitars, played by Chad Sterenburg and Kevin Whittemore, creating a vibrant emotional canvas, enhanced by Adam Vass on the drums.
Drawing from heavy metal and screamo influences, La Dispute is multi-faceted, combining provocative poetry, intense guitar riffs, drum lines and powerful stage presence to move the audience with an explosion of sound. Their work has been compared to that of mewithoutyou and Haste the Day for both style and religious intonations. La Dispute is a band that is passionate about their art and appreciative of their audiences and they’ll undoubtedly deliver an excellent show.
- Bethany Sanders