Boy Sets Fire / the Esoteric / Biology - live in Sayreville (Cover Artwork)

Boy Sets Fire / the Esoteric / Biology

live in Sayreville (2005)

live show

I can't begin to express how excited I was when I found out that Boy Sets Fire, the band that got me into a lot of the music I like today with their brilliant After the Eulogy, were finally touring again after almost two years of being dormant. I'll spare you the back story, and hope that this review doesn't turn into a rant about the "scene"…

* - Warning: After completing this show review, I realized just how long this really is. However, I feel it is warranted, as it is a six-band show, and a very, very eventful night. I apologize in advance.

First up were Chiba-Ken, who were nothing more than your typical unknown show opener. I wouldn't listen to their nü-emo-rock-core (I'm obviously being facetious) any time else, but they got the job done as the opener, in the way of getting fans remotely excited for the upcoming bands and going on stage with a good amount of energy. Their singer sounded atrocious through the first few songs, but soon found his voice and didn't sound all that bad from then on; as a word of advice, this dude should utilize his scream more effectively, as it's rather strong, but placed awfully throughout the band's music. Not great, but not bad.

Next was Years Spent Cold, your token tough-guy hardcore band, sticking out like a sore thumb on this bill. Now, when I tell you how bad this band was, you need to imagine the worst band you've ever heard. Now subtract any talent you might have, and give them the stage presence of a high school band playing their first gig in a backyard in front of twenty kids. That's Years Spent Cold in a nutshell: Terrible, generic hardcore music played by guys that were constantly giving each other the "Dude, what the hell are you playing and where in the song are we!!" look, even though their music was nothing but bad metal riffs and chunky breakdowns behind a Cookie Monster vocalist (a description holding true for the man's scream as well as his size). The fact that they brought along a disrespectful crew of your standard scene thugs was no good either, as the vocalist urged the gang to "have fun" as they deliberately moshed on the outer ring of the pit, sending a girl waiting for From Autumn to Ashes in the second row behind me out of the club bloodied up, and starting numerous fights. My only thought over the duration of this band's set? Fuck them.

Biology is fronted by Francis Mark of From Autumn to Ashes fame (the drummer/vocalist), and they came on stage with a somewhat boring take on what seemed to be a flashback to `90s emo (think Texas Is the Reason) mixed with some current flavor. Mark put on the "strange, deranged" persona through the show, which seemed a little forced, but the band had good energy and didn't suck. I'm on the fence with these guys; it is ultimately up to the listener to assume whether Biology is truly any good. No verdict on them.

In a truly impressive set, the Esoteric, featuring members of Coalesce, took the crowd's attention and held it for their half an hour with their no-bullshit hardcore music. It's bands like these that renew my faith in heavy music -- no unnecessary stage antics, no overly flashy riffage, just heavy music played the way it should be played: heavily. The band put all of their effort into their music, and it showed, as the band walked off the stage completely drenched in sweat, and were totally grateful to everyone who payed attention to them. I highly recommend this band not only live, but on CD as well. Watch out for these guys.

We know that Boy Sets Fire is outspoken. How outspoken? To be honest, as soon as the band took the stage, vocalist Nathan Gray turned the head of everyone in the goddamn room:

Before we start, we want to thank the first band for coming out here and giving it their all, because we know how tough something like that is. And to the second band, fuck you. I'm thirty-three years old, and never in my life have I seen something so fucking pathetic as a bunch of moronic thugs instigating their group of bullying, lowlife, homophobic fans into tearing up the club, starting violence, and being assholes. It makes me fucking sick to think that these are the people that own the scene right now. To everyone sick of that fucking band and their fucking fans, STAND UP. Don't let those thugs bully you. This is your scene, take it back. Fuck them. I'm disgusted. There's hundreds of us, and only a few of them. Are you with me!!!
The place went ballistic. Everyone's feelings and fears during that one band's set were washed away, and all eyes were on Boy Sets Fire, as they ripped through the opener, "Release the Dogs," completely blowing the roof off of the Starland Ballroom. The band was psyched, and had more energy than I had ever seen in them in the previous three times I saw them They played about half of After the Eulogy, only two songs off of their Wind-Up release Tomorrow Come Today (which came out surprisingly heavy and intense live), and a few rarities, most notably "Vehicle," dedicated to all the friends they made on the tour, as it was the first time they had played it all tour. I was amazed at how Boy Sets Fire had not missed a fucking beat over the last few trying years; if anything, they came back better. The two songs played off of their upcoming Equal Vision effort, "Requiem" and "The Final Communique," sounded excellent, with the latter closing on a completely heavy, almost spastic note. Here's to hoping the songs get pulled off with just as much ferocity on record. Interjecting between songs to further shit-talk Years Spent Cold, they closed with arguably their best song, "After the Eulogy," but preceding it with "I have just gotten word that Years Spent Cold and their thugs are waiting outside for me to kick my ass. I just want to let you all know that as soon as we finish this last song, I am walking off of the front of this stage and walking out that fucking front door, and I want all of you to come with me." Nathan kept his word, tearing through the song and its anthemic chants of "RISE!" and walking right out, with no less than two hundred people following him. He kept his word, which was a ballsy move: After all, it turned out that no outside violence took place, with the cops interjecting and pulling the skirmish apart.

I didn't stay for From Autumn to Ashes. I didn't want to. Just imagine how much longer this would be if I had stayed? I'm sure you don't even want to think about it…

This was a decent show. Saw some awesome bands, saw some not awesome bands. However, the whole good vs. bad thing was a completely awesome thing to see and even be a part of, especially after witnessing Boy Sets Fire back up their big words with even bigger actions and an even more gigantic performance. I've seen them four times now, and they haven't played this good in a long time. I can sum this up real nice, short and sweet: Don't be an asshole. Boy Sets Fire is, in every sense of the word, back.