Rainer Maria surfed in on the first wave of emo in '95, alongside its Wisconsin peers, the Promise Ring, and now the band is one of the last pioneers still standing. The trio's members distinguished themselves from their peers by being one of the few groups to use dueling boy/girl vocals, and their first four albums demonstrate a steady progression, culminating in 2003's Long Knives Drawn, arguably their best release. Across those releases, the band's music grew more intricate, and bassist Caithlin De Marrais assumed more of the vocal duties from guitarist Kyle Fischer, leaving him to focus on his explosive bursts of noise and melody.
For their latest, Catastrophe Keeps Us Together, the bandmates abandoned their longtime label, Polyvinyl, and much of the sonic squall, going for a creamier, more billowing sound, with Fischer's vocals all but absent. He still occasionally drops in a little guitar wail, but after a dozen years, the band's exploring some very different ground. Like its records, Rainer Maria's live show is bouncy, a little sloppy, and infused with giddy, positive energy. The bubbly power poppers the Format headline.