We walked into the venue as pop-punk locals Hope On A Rope were in the middle of their set. Zany song titles like "You're Not Gay" and a sarcastic tune about Jesus loving me? They would've been pretty spectacular if I was 13.
Whole Wheat Bread was up next. For those not aware, the band is a three-piece pop-punk outfit whose primary marketability lies in their race (black). Throughout their set the band would throw in some hip-hop feels to their songs, whether it be through shouted/rapped verses and at one point busting into an all out hip-hop song. While one of their songs was fast-paced and reminiscent of Stay Asleep-era Bigwig, the rest were fairly standard fare stuff. I remember them playing closer "Old Man Samson" and "Police," the latter of which had the band ranting about the song subject, getting the crowd in true NWA fashion to shout "fuck the pigs!"
While they may get ignored and shit-talked, respectively, by vast hip and indie-hop fans, I still think Gym Class Heroes is still pretty refreshing for their genre. I'd venture to say it's their gentle mix of full band beats and honest delivery that makes them as enjoyable as they are, and getting to catch another full set by the band reinforced it that night. Schleprock, the lone rhymesmith of the outfit, managed to throw in reccomendations of pets over girlfriends, nappy hair talk, 9-5 sympathy and a scathing condemnation of mainstream acts like 50 Cent amongst set cuts like "Papercuts," "Cupid's Chokehold," "Taxi Driver," "Simple Living," "Makeout Club," and closer "Nothing Boy Vs. The Echo Factor." The last of both the stage banter mentioned and the songs here came hand in hand, as Schlep attempted to "break down the barrier," sotospeak, by standing amongst the crowd for the duration of the song. It was a fairly forthright, candid set that proved the band is a consistent live act.
However, the band that would turn the venue into a veritable skankhouse had yet to take the stage, and thus, all checkmarked shoes in the house remained firm. That is, until Streetlight Manifesto took the stage. The band's usual tightness and overpowering horn section delivered as usual despite the lineup changes undergone the past year. They managed to spread their surprises throughout the set; the second song played was fan favorite, super anthemic "Point/Counterpoint." Now, it's widely agreed that the song is essentially the sequel to "Keasbey Nights," and the band apparently agrees; in the middle of "Point/Counterpoint," the band burst into the chorus of "Keasbey Nights," and ended up playing the majority of the cover smack in the middle of the "sequel," only to immediately transition back to "Point/Counterpoint" and finish it off; a pretty incredible moment on its own. "A Moment Of Silence" (this song if not something else) involved the band playing the intro of the song, then playing the intro of "Smells Like Teen Spirit"...and then diving back into the slow-paced jam. The laid-back, careless vibes of the genre were obviously in full effect, and for the better of the night. Other tracks included in no order were what Streetlight called a Bandits Of The Acoustic Revolution cover in "Here's To Life" (also announced was new BOTAR material being recorded this Summer as "both" bands hit the studio), "Everything Goes Numb," "That'll Be The Day," "We Are The Few," "A Better Place, A Better Time," another rousing Catch 22 cover in "9MM & A Three Piece Suit," "Failing, Flailing," and "The Big Sleep," possibly among a few others. "Hey Ska!" was requested, but the band declined, claiming they couldn't play it anymore -- legally, not ably. However, its omission did not deter another splendid set from one of the -- arguably -- top ska-punk acts going presently.