Boy Sets Fire / Envy on the Coast

Boy Sets Fire / Envy on the Coast: live in Levittownlive in Levittown (2006)
Equal Vision Records

Reviewer Rating: 4.5

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

Doors scheduled to be opened at 6:00 P.M. and the show to start at 7? Funny that the first band was finishing up their set as we walked into the venue around 6:40. I could hear the vocals and it sounded very familiar as I thought, "Wow, this sounds exactly like Biology." We went further in and began.

Doors scheduled to be opened at 6:00 P.M. and the show to start at 7? Funny that the first band was finishing up their set as we walked into the venue around 6:40. I could hear the vocals and it sounded very familiar as I thought, "Wow, this sounds exactly like Biology." We went further in and began to watch this unknown band who seemed to take an awful lot from them. The last song they played was impressive -- very emotive and powerful, musically drawing heavily from Elliott but vocally with that Francis Mark nasal tone. When the song completed, they thanked the crowd and mentioned "We're Biology." OH, that would explain it. It was just harder to tell now that front-man, the aforementioned Francis Mark (who also handles percussion and vocal duties in From Autumn to Ashes) no longer looks like a stand-in for Andy Dick without his glasses and choppy fluff of hair. You'd think a Vagrant Records band would be listed on the actual bill (which was Boy Sets Fire / the Fully Down / Versus the Mirror), but alas, it was no such case.

Versus the Mirror was next and the venue was still well away from filling up -- actually, I'd say I could count no more than 20 people standing anywhere in the illuminated area in front of the stage. I remember first listening to the band's self-titled EP and thinking it was pretty competent for a Bled ripoff. What's really impressive is that was only 7 months ago, and the band is well, well beyond that, forging their own territory with more experimental guitars than the ones the metalcore genre would confine them to, and vicious but introspective and reflective compositions. All the members moved about and looked to be enjoying themselves, even the singer whom I've seen criticized recently for having such a lack of energy -- at least in the first half. He did seem drained by the set's midpoint, but all the while him and his band-mates were musically on point, giving off a definite Breather Resist vibe in the live setting, one of which I didn't quite notice on record. The cuts they tore through included "Life as a Criminal," "Smoke It to the Rope," "Birthed by Architecture," and "Barracuda Capital of the World" among 1 or 2 others. Very solid.

I only remember cringing a lot when trying to listen to the Fully Down's Don't Get Lost in a Moment, but live, I almost wanted to like them. There's a blatantly obvious Wilhelm Scream influence providing the band's backbone, but they have these weird emo/pop-punk elements running through their songs that seem to drive this wall between me and enjoyment. It could be the vocals that are part of the problem; it could be that every time the singer opened his mouth, the guitars were automatically dumbed down seemingly. Either way, this band could write some terrific melodic and technical punk rock if they do away with the frills.

Earlier me and my fellow showgoer were scoping out merch when he looked at one band's table and asked "Envy?" Yeah, I pretty much emptied my bowels at the thought I'd missed a totally random appearance by the Japanese screamo pioneers, only to see it was really locals Envy on the Coast, who we figured had opened up the whole thing.

Exhausted from my day I was passing out on a comfortable leather couch next to the wall when it seemed Boy Sets Fire was finished setting up. I got up, stretched, and pointed my head towards the crowd, thinking "Wow, BSF's fanbase sure consists of a lot of younger girls and clean cut-looking young men who looked like they just came from their busboy jobs." I then turned to the stage only to see a collective of young men who couldn't have been much older than their late teens. This could not have been Boy Sets Fire. No, it was Envy on the Coast, playing second to last because they literally had the biggest draw of any band on the bill. I'd heard much about them considering they were unsigned, from a feature in AP to a performance at the recent Bamboozle festival. Too bad they sound like Glassjaw with very few of the elements that make Glassjaw interesting. A few of their songs seemed ambitious, but others watered down, radio-friendly and super repetitive versions of that band. The vocalist's warble was straight Palumbo, as well. Everyone was pretty big into it (some push mosh going on for their one "big" song, even), but it wasn't for me.

Straight up: Boy Sets Fire was fucking fantastic. There couldn't have been more than 30 people visibly in attendance, and much less familiar with the band, but BSF put more energy and passion into their songs than most bands I've seen combined. Their songs were diverse, drawing from all sorts of hardcore subgenres and giving the set a healthy variation. Funny enough, I'm really only familiar with the band's first and most recent full-lengths -- 1997's The Day the Sun Went Out and the recent, great effort ...Notes from the Plague Years. Thus, I can really only name songs they played from those albums, but if you asked the rest of the crowd, I'm sure they would tell you titles -- it was that material, from their middle efforts, that got the biggest reaction. The often self-deprecating act initiated things with "Walk Astray" and "Pure," which should've amped things up well. I was anticipating a big, unifying sing-along for "...INSPIRATION!," but got none, really. It was okay, because I definitely enjoyed much of the middle career material I heard and thus picked up the full-length considered the better of the 2 (After the Eulogy)...but the Plague material was played nearly bang on as well. They delivered basically every song I wanted to hear, from the ferocious "Final Communiqué" to the anthemic "Requiem." Also played was "Rookie," "Falling Out Theme," "So Long...and Thanks for the Crutches," and possibly "The Misery Index" and "A Far Cry." One of the best live bands I've seen; highly recommended.


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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.
danperrone (May 31, 2006)

yeah, it's a fucking shame that everyone turned their back on this band after tomorrow come today

they are playing their best on this tour and lately...i have never seen them this great and intense (even though they were amazing back in the day too)

there's a new feel to their live performance now...robert adds a whole new element and they're just friendlier and the shows are way more intimate and all around fun

inagreendase (May 31, 2006)

where is levittown? bumfuck america

It's actually considered America's first planned community if I'm not mistaken. A few of the newer, top shelf hardcore bands (This Is Hell, Crime in Stereo) claim residence there as well.

Anonymous (May 31, 2006)

Extremely well written and insightful review. I've been a long time BSF fan and the last time I saw them with Hope Conspiracy there were about 100 people there. The time I saw them before that with Snapcase there were at least 200-300 people going nuts for them, it's a shame so many fans are not into them any more.

Anonymous (May 31, 2006)

where is levittown? bumfuck america

colin (May 30, 2006)

sickboi that set needs to be video of the week STAT

Anonymous (May 30, 2006)

in san francisco bsf played in hope and it was quite possibly the greatest thing ever

StormOf59 (May 30, 2006)

Great review, I recently saw BoySetsFire right before the new album came out in Europe and they put on a fantastic live show even though there was such a small crowd. Also, Envy on the Coast opened for Owen/Anthony Green a while back at the Knitting Factory and the place was practically packed for them. I don't really understand why.

danperrone (May 30, 2006)

sickboi, is it at all possible to send me the bsf portion of that video?

i would kill to see it

hit me on aim or something

Great review.
This is something i earlier talked about, i don't remember in what review, but it was two hardcore bands, one of them possibly being crime in stereo.

The local emo/pop/hardcore bands are good for the scene, in this case Envy on the coast. The bands are local, so they don't get paid much, and they bring all their friends, so instead of it just being 20 people there the whole night, there's 5 times more paying admission, so the bands don't have to worry.

Sure, it sucks that these bands has lost their once pretty big fanbase, but these carbon-copy under 20's bands are helping them. It's weird, but it works.

sickboi (May 30, 2006)

I filmed this whole thing in Richmond last week, sooooooo fucking good. Nathan's voice is one of the best live I've ever heard.

danperrone (May 30, 2006)


saw this friday, so freaking good, and pretty packed too because the band is pretty big in jersey

best live band around, for sure...those who disagree haven't seen them lately

Anonymous (May 30, 2006)

my just dropped when i saw that this was not an review of the japanese envy. bummer

colin (May 30, 2006)

sounds about the same as the bsf show here, but i've gotta say i'm jealous if you saw them play "a far cry"

notfeelingcreative (May 30, 2006)

"There couldn't have been more than 30 people visibly in attendance.."

The orlando show was about the same, I spoke to a girl at the show, who had apparently been following the tour (as if BSF were the grateful dead) and she mentioned that turnouts had been sparse the entire tour. Struck me funny since all of the times they played in Orlando when they were touring behing ATE, the venue was packed.

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