Home Is Where played Crystal Ballroom – 7/7

Florida emo crew Home Is Where opened their first-ever headlining tour with a Crystal Ballroom show, supported by Smidley and Dreamwell.


I see a lot of bands (obviously), and consequently a lot of local debuts, first tours and other indicators of what the future might hold for said bands. It’s one of the things I love most about covering live music; witnessing that lightning-in-a-bottle feeling of an act that has something special bring it to a genuinely psyched audience for the first time is something special in and of itself. A Friday night in Somerville with Home Is Where earlier this month was one of those moments.

The Palm Coast, FL foursome turned heads in 2021 with I Became Birds – a raw and immersive debut LP that covered miles of sonic terrain in its 18 short minutes – but last month’s The Whaler feels like the record that will etch their place in the emo history books. An instant cult-classic that fuses post-hardcore and midwest-isms with harmonicas, singing saws, screaming catharsis and surreal imagery, it’s a wild listen that practically demands you run it back immediately. Unsurprisingly, it’s captured a whole lot of folks’ attention – a sellout crowd’s worth of whom were on hand to kick off the band’s first trek as headliners at Crystal Ballroom.

From both that crowd and the band, the energy in the room was irrepressible. Watching vocalist Brandon MacDonald segue between defying gravity with mic in hand to wailing on the aforementioned singing saw (and back again) during the set’s first two minutes, with nary a beat skipped, set the breathless tone for the remainder of the show. The band (which also includes guitarist Tilley Komorny, drummer Josiah Gardella and bassist Connor O’Brien) tore through a setlist that included much of the new record with the sort of exhaustive abandon that makes you wonder how they plan to conjure the energy for it every night. A silly thing to speculate about maybe, but it felt like the start of a tour that future old-timers will be bragging about seeing them on someday.

Opening the night was a similarly furious set from Providence’s Dreamwell, playing through their current repertoire for one of the last times before retiring that material in favor of their forthcoming new LP, due via Prosthetic in October. Dreamwell have delivered a riveting, unceasingly heavy post-screamo onslaught each time I’ve caught them, and this one was no different.

Balancing the middle of the bill, Foxing’s Conor Murphy brought something a little different to the table with his side project Smidley. While the subject matter sometimes remained weighty (the band is named after Murphy’s dearly-departed dog), the four piece’s breezy indie pop still lent some welcome levity to the evening.

Scroll for a sizable gallery from the whole show below.