Taking “Wildlife” on the road

Michigan hardcore quintet La Dispute kicks off their tour at the Varsity Theater.

by Dylan Hester


What: La Dispute with Balance and Composure, All Get Out and Sainthood Reps

When: 5 p.m., Saturday

Where: Varsity Theater, 1308 Fourth Street SE

The last time it was in Minneapolis, La Dispute was becoming well known within post-hardcore circles for its complex song structures and poetic lyricism. But that was a few years ago, and this Saturday, La Dispute will return to the Mill City in support of their second full-length album, “Wildlife.”

Since its release last October, “Wildlife” has reached audiences beyond the hardcore scene. This time around, they’ll play the Varsity Theater to kick off their biggest headlining tour yet.

“Previously, we fit more into a specific niche in hardcore,” said Jordan Dreyer, the band’s vocalist. “But this time we wanted to explore all of our personal interests and tastes, and I think it came out more diverse musically.”

Their earlier releases — mostly 7-inches, CD-R’s and splits — are quintessentially punk productions: quick, roughly produced takes that favor raw energy over perfectionism.

But the members of La Dispute always had a dramatic flair to their craft. Their “Here, Hear” series of short records juxtapose musical experimentation with spoken-word stories and poems.

So it’s no surprise that “Wildlife” made such a large statement. The album, which is 57 minutes long, is deliberately structured with a heavy lyrical focus. Too often these qualities will sound more pretentious than endearing, but “Wildlife” comes across with to-the-core honesty.

As a result of the new album’s success, the tour will take the group all over the U.S. before heading to Europe this summer. La Dispute is accustomed to heavy tour schedules, but usually as a supporting act.

“The last time we did a headlining tour of this length was probably two years ago and mostly in basements and coffee shops and VFW halls,” Dreyer said.

And while touring may take them around the country, La Dispute’s music remains rooted in its Grand Rapids, Mich., home.

“[Grand Rapids] had a pretty profound impact on writing this last record. A lot of it took place here,” Dreyer says. “It was trying to capture a moment in a person’s life, and that’s not just interactions, but everything that goes on around you in your immediate surroundings.”

Though small-town Midwestern angst is a stereotype of post-hardcore groups, it is not without its merit. The honest chemistry between the band members shines brightly in their recordings and live performances. Dreyer said, “[It’s] the five of us putting together … our friendship and enjoyment of each other’s company.”