I'd previously seen Set Your Goals twice: in 2005 at a fairly small, stage-less rental space; and last year in an even tinier basement. Obviously, the five-foot-high stage and large barricade of Irving Plaza scared the bejesus out of me. Despite all that distance and some cavernous surroundings, the set was immensely enjoyable. If the band was playing sloppy (as critics have previously stated) I was having too much damn fun to notice, but I doubt that was the case. The soaring pop-punk hooks of cuts like "An Old Book Misread" and the introduction of "Work in Progress" sounded wholly appropriate in this setting backed by a brash sound mix and perfectly executed performance. But it was the band's melodic hardcore aggression that kept the energy levels in the upper register. While co-vocalist Jordan Brown expressed genuine shock at the number of their fans already in attendance and mightily finger-pointing away ("I did not expect this!"), the band appeared unshaken and kept their commanding presence intact while tearing through their set (plus, "they all love to listen to the pretty music / but nobody hears my therapy bled upon this paper" was probably pretty appropriate here). It didn't hurt that they threw in a few oldies, too.
Set list (8:00-8:32):
- "Muppets Tonight" intro / This Very Moment
- Work in Progress
- We Do It for the Money, OBVIOUSLY!
- Dead Men Tell No Tales
- How 'Bout No, Scott?
- Goonies Never Say Die
- This Song Is Definitely Not About a Girl
- An Old Book Misread
- To Be Continued...
Big D and the Kids Table may have been a massive disappointment had I not already fallen for Strictly Rude
by this show. That forthcoming album lent a sizable portion of itself to the band's set list; two-thirds, in fact. I guess not everyone that doesn't receive promos downloads leaks however, because the only Rude
song that anyone seemed to remotely know was the raucous "Noise Complaint"; of all the new songs, this also got the only real reaction. I hope fans don't mind that their favorite late-third wave holdover has successfully ascended to the top of the straight-up ska pile, because they'd be sorely missing out. Myself, I was ecstatic and bouncing along to some of my favorite songs off Rude
: namely "Souped-Up Vinyl," "Steady Riot" and "Strictly Rude." Frontman Dave McWane was loose and nimble for the more trad-ska offerings, while giving one of the most somber, candid performances for "Strictly Rude" I've seen him give; his band's stylistic change has sort of forced him to overhaul his stage persona a little bit and he's seemingly made the transition flawlessly. Guitarist Sean P. Rogan's outfit gave him an odd resemblance to the Living End's Chris Cheney, I might add. The laces in the checkerboard shoes, however, were surely tightened at the end as the band brought in the Boston aggression on the absolute favorites "Checklist" and "LAX"; it gave the set a venue-shattering jolt to close things -- to say the pensive crowd finally went nuts might
be an understatement.
- instrumental intro
- Souped-Up Vinyl
- Steady Riot
- Breaking the Bottle
- Raw Revolution
- Little Bitch
- Noise Complaint
- Strictly Rude
Not including Warped Tour appearances I believe I've seen Anti-Flag five times, three of which have been at this very venue and the last of which was in support of For Blood and Empire
. A 90-minute trek home, 7:30 A.M. work shift, having attended by myself and already having seen two excellent performances that night ensured I was completely okay with not staying through to the end. Big D and Set Your Goals completely set it off and little else that night could top it for me.