I really didn't want to like SVS at first. They were straightforward even for thrash punk / hardcore, their guitarist was wearing their own band's shirt (faux pas much?), and their songs all followed the same basic blueprint for structure. Yet as the set wore on, the laws of physics were defied -- it should've gotten more and more monotonous, but I actually grew to somewhat enjoy the band's relatively abrasive stylings. And then they covered 7 Seconds' "Young 'Till I Die," with the vocalist even replicating Kevin Seconds' whole "dah-ay-yie" enunciation. It wasn't AMAZING, but it was pretty fun, and you could see a few otherwise indifferent attendees reluctantly singing along and quietly waving fists, myself included. They also placed some tongues firmly in cheek to use Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" intro for one of their own (thought they may have also just gone ahead and done a completely irrecognizable cover).
Shallows of the Mundane I didn't really want to like either because of a second dumb, potentially homophobic comment in a week from a local band -- the singer/bassist, quite the Ignite fanboy, was going on about them in elaborate praise and juxtaposing them to the "poseur MTV homo bands." (A) I don't watch MTV nearly at all, but I don't believe much homosexuality prevails in the music it shows currently, and (B) if it did, I don't think that would be near one of the worst aspects. That and the band opened with the same dude saying "We're Shallows of the Mundane. We hate everyone, we hate everything, but we like you if you feel the same way." Uh, Lunchables and dek hockey are pretty good, guy, so I can't say I'm on your side here. So despite plenty of predictable "fuck"s in their lyrics, musically, there was some pretty interesting stuff going on for a 3-piece -- take a hardcore band that probably listens to a shitton of Quicksand and Helmet, add some light post-hardcore influence, and you've got some neat stuff going on. The first half of the set seemed to depend on the use of a hyper scream á la Raised Fist's Alle Rajkovic, while he sung much more in the later songs. The guitar work was impressive and creative and I liked the structure. Boo on that aforementioned aesthetic, however. Plus, a little acceptance goes a long way.
I want to like Thieves and Assassins so bad. They're doing damn creative melodic punk rock / hardcore with `80s emo influences, but I've said it before and I'll say it again: The vocals just don't do it for me most of the time -- he sounds like a super muffled, more monotone Jim Lindbergh of Pennywise, and it really prevents me from fully getting into the songs. I'm hoping that if I spend some more time with the 7" (or rather, the MP3s of such that I have), I'll find myself accustomed to them, but being on the initial end of a transition is a really frustrating position to be in. While I experience these same problems seeing them live, it's much easier when he uses the half-yelling approach, and the band as a whole is pretty tight. Some of the new stuff they was played was quite impressive as well. I'll definitely be following the band in hopes I can at least force myself into a scenario of complete enjoyment. Among the songs played were "The Death on the City Pavement" with its just-about-direct rip-off intro from American Nightmare's "(We Are);" it's cool guys, because the mood change provides a pretty interesting dynamic.
Set Your Goals I have absolutely no problem with liking. Even CIV didn't sound this good introducing such a heavy pop-punk influence into melodic hardcore (yeah, I went there). I'm very, very wary of how outright poppy the new leaked songs are, but I'm instilling hope the band will bring a progressive version of that hybrid on Mutiny! instead of middle-era Blink-182 leftovers. Live at least, this band always kills it, even when playing songs that haven't even been officially released on some sort of medium (specifically "This Very Moment," which is worlds better than its studio version, all lonely in MP3 format, because Track 4 of the band's 5 leaked demos is still pretty cheesy). I do believe the fantastic opener of those demos were played first, as well. I didn't miss it at the time, but reflecting, throwing "Intro" -- otherwise known as "Reset" on the demo/EP reissue -- in there anywhere would've been lovely. Still, those EP songs are perfect sing-alongs in the in-person setting, which included "How 'Bout No, Scott?," "Goonies Never Say Die" and closer "Latchkey." "Mutiny!" was thrown in as well, and that seems to work better than the studio version. Oh, and it was pretty easy to say the band paid tribute to their roots with some rousing covers of Gorilla Biscuits' "Forgotten" and Jawbreaker's "Do You Hate Me?" (the latter from the reissue). While I doubt any performance from this band will ever top seeing them in a tiny suburban basement, covering GB in the set and then repeating 3 of their songs for an encore after much badgering, here was definitely a great time.
Blacklisted I kinda like. Most of their material has that serious American Nightmare influence about it, probably their most auspicious trait for me. However, most of their material also takes that influence to create some way heavier hardcore, which I'm afraid just doesn't flare up my minimal testosterone levels too much. Despite the rapidly increasing number of times I've seen them as of late, I enjoy them a little more with every show; one slight possibility could be how I really think it's silly for hardcore/metal vocalists to put on an act between songs, screaming "THIS SONG IS CALLED [insert song title]," and it seems like the band dropped that in recent times. They brought a number of intense, sub-2-minute ruckuses, including some of my favorite from them like "Coming Clean" and "How Quickly We Forget (Again)," the latter notable for its subtle buildup and explosive resulting breakdown. They're a solid live act for sure, but perhaps one requiring repeated listening.
Do I like Ignite? Well, yes. All I really know by the band is the 1996 Revelation EP Past Our Means and their recent, much anticipated by many Our Darkest Days, but I knew from seeing them open for Comeback Kid a few months ago that they were a ridiculously great catch in the live atmosphere. Maybe it was the slightly lesser reaction, maybe it was because I knew what to expect, but they didn't seem quite as good as that Knitting Factory performance that was only so short ago. I should've been sloppily feasting on their (super) melodic hardcore with my bare hands, but I didn't feel compelled to go past some idle standing and lyric mouthing. Everything was turned up to the point of the guitars and bass being fuzzy; there's a reason you can't actually go to 11. Zolli Teglas is indeed a great vocalist, but his operatic style, dare I say it, doesn't really seem to...fit the style of music the band plays, notably on older material (and with that statement I sign my death warrant). Regardless of my feelings on the band's music, they played well and incited their dedicated fans into many a sing-along, like the instantly catchy "Who Sold Out Now?" and "Bullets Included No Thought Required," both from 2000's A Place Called Home. During one particular song, the band did the slowly-becoming-necessary-in-a-punk-set monologue about how it's more than just music, bringing up a fellow named Bruce who was soon leaving for Darfur to assist in the mass ongoing crisis; Bruce encouraged us all to at least be aware of the situation, perhaps signing some petitions. Some other songs included in the band's set were "Bleeding" (opener), "Fear Is Our Tradition," "Call on My Brothers" (fake last song), "Veteran" (encore), and the band's always solid cover of U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday." Not bad, but even in less familiar times it felt better.