Concert preview: The World Is a Beautiful Place brings expanded sound, lineup to the Basement

Andy Downing, Columbus Alive

The World Is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die, a Connecticut-based collective that specializes in sweeping rock anthems as epic as its Twitter-unfriendly name, nearly called it quits before releasing its full-length debut, Whenever, If Ever, in 2013.

Thomas Diaz, then the band's lead vocalist, departed the group in the middle of recording sessions, and, for a time at least, the remaining members resisted the idea of bringing in a replacement.

"I was like, 'I pretty much think we're done,'" said founding member (and sometimes singer) Derrick Shanholtzer-Dvorak, who joins the band for a concert at the Basement on Thursday, Nov. 5.

Instead, TWIABP, which originated as a four-piece in 2009 and now boasts an eight-person roster, invited singer David Bello into the fold, regrouping not only to complete those initial sessions, but for a sharper, more refined new record, Harmlessness, which surfaced earlier this year.

Befitting its expanded lineup, the album finds the musicians exploring a range of big ideas; by the third track the mates have already touched on birth ("Ease the babies out of their wombs") and death ("We're afraid to die, and that's alright"), though a bulk of the songs tread that messier middle ground, wrestling with concepts like depression, guilt and aging. Shanholtzer-Dvorak, for one, penned the album-opening "You Can't Live There Forever" as an elegy for the Handsome Woman, a punk dwelling they (the singer identifies as non-binary and utilizes they/them pronouns) called home for five years.

"I turn 30 this year … and part of that song is me coming to terms with the idea that era is over," Shanholtzer-Dvorak said. "I'm getting older and doing way too much of that, 'When I was 23 we used to do this stuff, and now I just watch Food Network.' It's a song about sort of coming to terms with [getting older]."

More often, though, the band approaches music with a more communal, less personal mindset, and its songs frequently build to epic crescendos designed to be shouted en masse by rapturous audiences.

"Early on we talked about how we wanted to approach writing as this collective experience," Shanholtzer-Dvorak said. "That's why we use a lot of 'we' and 'us,' and not a lot of 'I did this.' Everything is through the lens of the collective human experience."

The Basement

7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 5

391 Neil Ave., Arena District

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