Boy Sets Fire / Versus the Mirror

Boy Sets Fire / Versus the Mirror: live in Portlandlive in Portland (2006)
Equal Vision Records

Reviewer Rating: 3.5

Contributed by: colincolin
(others by this writer | submit your own)

This might be the year of Boy Sets Fire for me. It's no secret I adore the new album, but they managed to put a smile on my face after a bad night and a couple crappy opening bands, which is quite impressive. I'll get to that later, even though the first three bands left very little to really review.

This might be the year of Boy Sets Fire for me. It's no secret I adore the new album, but they managed to put a smile on my face after a bad night and a couple crappy opening bands, which is quite impressive. I'll get to that later, even though the first three bands left very little to really review.

The first act, Ever We Fall, is a local band who sounded like any other pop-rock act around these days. The vocals were high, the music generic, and the stage presence uninspired. You can't really knock a local band, because local bands are always important and maybe one day they'll write an amazing album or put on a great show. Today just wasn't that day, and they were mostly forgettable. I will give them a thumbs up for staying positive and doing crowd interaction for their entire set, as it's a tough job with only about 20 people in attendance.

Second up was the Fully Down, who I judged to either be a lame ass pop act or a super grindcore ironic band based on their...colorful...cover art at the merch table. They actually put on a surprisingly well-done show, with very intriciate guitar parts and an incredibly energized performance. The band reminded me instantly of A Wilhelm Scream, and throughout the set I kept getting that vibe. I always have a problem with a band who uses three guitarists, because it seems a bit overkill, but they were all up and having a great time. However, there were about four songs I was just waiting to hear, "now it's doctor's scripts and 666," because the songs reminded me so heavily of Wilhelm Scream. However, it was a solid performance.

Versus the Mirror I was pretty excited for, especially after hearing a buzz about the band, likening them to Pass the Flask-era Bled. While I was really getting into the music, the lead singer had absolutely no energy and did the annoying hardcore wail of impersonating a Pterodactyl, demonstrating no vocal range and even less energy. The constant screams were annoying, because if you're really that pissed off, I'd imagine you'd have a bit more energy than waltzing around a stage half-interested. The live show was incredibly disappointing and gave me no desire to listen to them on disc.

Now to the main event, Boy Sets Fire. By this point I was pretty bummed about the show; the crowd was lurking at under 100 in a venue that was packed to the brim for Darkest Hour just weeks earlier. I was expecting the low turnout might destroy the mood, but it was precisely the opposite. Lead vocalist Nathan Gray made some remarks about the height of the stage (just over four feet), and how it felt so awkward not being able to participate with the crowd. The band took off through a wide array of the old and new, through the tame ("My Life in the Knife Trade") and the frenetic ("Final Communiqué"), with nothing but smiles on their faces and energy in their presentation. The band astounded me with how truly grateful they seemed to be for every person that decided to show up, and it actually made the show really amazing; this small group of kids dancing and singing and jumping up at the stage with the band responding tenfold with a spot-on performance.

As outspoken as Boy Sets Fire is, there was no preaching and relatively little shit-talking, except for some discussion about the songs. For the most part, Gray would talk to individual fans throughout the show, just small talk and eye contact, the traits that make a front-man truly remarkable. The amount of respect I gained for this band after seeing them live is off the charts. Perhaps it was the lack of, well, anything from the lead singer of Versus the Mirror, but the guys in Boy Sets Fire really gave it their all to give the crowd a remarkable experience.

I have to say, if you're a fan of BSF at all, go to the show. If you show up late, you probably didn't miss much, but I feel like I've really missed out never seeing Boy Sets Fire before. I will not make this mistake again. About 3 of the stars I'm giving the show are theirs, the other half for the energy of Fully Down. I've also got some photos from the show, which you can view over at the link on the right.


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Anonymous (May 15, 2006)

They played at Rock n' Roll Pizzeria? That place blows floppy donkey wang. Worse than Loveland. Fitting for a band of their lackluster abilities though.

Coalesce =

colin (May 11, 2006)

for all the AWS comments;

i've never heard fully down on record so i have no clue what they sound like there. but the song structure, tempo changes, and vocals made me think of AWS.

Anonymous (May 10, 2006)

I saw this show in Utah and Boy Sets Fire was great. It was my first time seeing them. Nathan is one hell of a front man, he interacted with the crowd the entire night.

Versus The Mirror's vocalist moved around quite a bit at the show, even going out into the crowd for a minute. I'm a fan of all-screamed stuff like Shai Hulud for example but I just didn't care for them, or the singer's voice for the entire length of the set.

Also, The Fully Down didn't remind me of AWS at all.

Anonymous (May 10, 2006)

These guys rule live, they definitely leave you with a much greater appreciation for them after seeing a live show.

Their last full US tour had Hope Conspiracy opening their shows, I wish those guys were on this tour as well....

steveman (May 10, 2006)

I really wanted to go see them and i've been kicking myself for not going. My family picks the worst weekends to come and visit me.

skolarx (May 10, 2006)

at the detroit show nathan puked all over by the bar. kinda funny since i always figured those dudes for sxe

sickboi (May 10, 2006)


Deal or No Deal.....man, is it me or does Howie Mandel just annoy the shit out of you?

I mean, come on, Bobby's World kicked ass, but with his shaved head, soul-patch, and queermo pinstriped suits, homeboy looks like a fucking tool, and acts the part as well.

Millionaire and Regis pwned this bullshit.

jamespastepunk (May 10, 2006)

"Find me a better live song than after the eulogy".
Sure. Bane's "Can We Start Again".

maverick (May 10, 2006)

Really bummed I skipped out on this show in Cleveland. I had every intention of going, but the next thing I knew, I was plopped in front of the TV watching "Deal Or No Deal." I made the wrong choice.


cherrycolarain (May 10, 2006)

I think The Fully Down sound NOTHING like A Wilhelm Scream... but atleast they put on a good live show.

shot_in_the_dark (May 9, 2006)

the 2 times i have seen versus the mirror they completely ripped the stage to shreds. the lead vocalist is an introverted, intellectual type with a strange stage presence, not bad though, just different. everyone seemed to love them. the musicians have some moves.

that said. i think everyone gains a little more respect for BSF after experiencing a live show.

danperrone (May 9, 2006)

the best live band around?

i really do think so

find me a better live song than "after the eulogy"

Anonymous (May 9, 2006)

Boy Sets Fire played like an hour and a half set at the show in Denver cause the Fully Down didn't make it. It was friggin' awesome! We got Crime In Stereo which was a cool opener (Start Today cover=YAY!), and I felt the same as you, Colin, about Versus The Mirror. Booo to all that crappy screaming. Nathan talked shit about kids in eyeliner and music being about focusing emotions into something artistic, not money. That was his biggest rant. And they apologized over and over for not coming to Denver for 3 years.

Anonymous (May 9, 2006)

maybe one of the most passionate hc/punk bands around. just listen to the song "loser of the year award." it sayd it all.

notfeelingcreative (May 9, 2006)

"As outspoken as Boy Sets Fire is, there was no preaching and relatively little shit-talking,"

I noticed that the last time they came though when they opened for FATA, I used to think Nathan talked way too much during their shows, last time the girl standing next to me and I actually turned to each other and said "that's it?" every time nathan would talk! I guess maybe he realizes that the songs pretty much speak for themselves.

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