Boy Sets Fire / Versus the Mirror - live in Portland (Cover Artwork)

Boy Sets Fire / Versus the Mirror

live in Portland (2006)

live show

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.