I rushed into a largely empty pit as Title Fight was just starting up "Loud and Clear." I'd clearly missed about half their set and was pretty bummed, but on the other hand relieved to see them at all. I immediately noticed that, this being the biggest place I've seen the scrappy Kingston, PA pop-punk outfit play, they sounded huge; if they were sloppy or out of key, as they sometimes tend to be, you actually couldn't tell because the guitars were monstrous and the vocals were yelped fiercely through the professional sound system. They had a big crowd there for them too, which was nice to see; even a few other kids enjoyed themselves via shove pits and fist pumps. Pile-ons against the barrier were frequent, though mostly unsuccessful, too. It seemed like a pretty standard set for the band, who would play super deep cuts like "Call It Quits" and something else from the demo days--and even a new song--at their show at Stolen Sleeves five or six hours later. Still, it was a pretty fun way to spend 11 minutes.
Set list (8:00 [most likely]-8:21) (incomplete):
- Loud and Clear
- No One Stays at the Top Forever
This Time Next Year was next. They're a band I've wanted to give the benefit of the doubt for so long because of their humble nature, ever-present influence admission (just look at their name!) and outspoken same-sex marriage support; still, their set here just sounded like a more irritating Fireworks, who themselves are already like a moderately enjoyable New Found Glory addendum. There were a few missed cues and a couple distinct fuck-ups, but the band sounded otherwise tight, as much as their reaction was actually less noticeable than Title Fight's; the pit often looked like a clustered swamp of bodies jumping around, with intermittent mosh action occurring when TTNY shoehorned a breakdown in.
Set list (8:33-8:58):
- New Sensation
- Rise & Fall, Curtain Call
- Alex in Wonderland
- Liquid Diet
- No Bed of Broken Glass
- Sweetest Air
- Cheers to a Late Night
Strike Anywhere, more or less, was the odd band on the bill, and it showed. It seemed like very, very few people attended exclusively for them, or even mostly for them. Most of the audience nestled near the barricade stared on in wonder towards the melodic hardcore veterans, checking them out for the first time in all likelihood. The crowd was most receptive when the band played tracks from either 2003's Exit English or, especially, 2006's Dead FM, as the band blazed through a dozen songs in just under a half-hour with very little banter interspersed among the songs. Frontman Thomas Barnett kept his sociopolitical discussions to an unusual minimum, but that was probably due to the cozy half-hour timeslot they allotted; if you're a less talk/more rock kind of guy, this was your set. If you like circle pits and randomly getting shoved, even better. Barnett often initiated pile-ons when he would jump down into the photo pit and lean up against the metal for more intimate sing-alongs and mic sharing. I was pretty satisfied with the set overall, though largely crushed when the band closed with the overplayed "To the World," completely omitting the awesome-every-time-I-don't-care-how-you-feel "Sunset on 32nd" from the set.
Set list (9:10-9:39):
- The Crossing
- We Amplify
- Laughter in a Police State
- I'm Your Opposite Number
- Hollywood Cemetery
- Invisible Colony
- To the World
I've already gone on a couple spiels in the past about my feelings towards Four Year Strong, so there's really no point in repeating them here. They do not play the type of "melodic hardcore"--and I'm really emphasizing those quotation marks--I particularly enjoy, but it doesn't change the fact that whatever they are playing, it's gained them one hell of a fanbase and it will probably only increase as Universal Motown keeps the marketing machine rolling for their upcoming full-length, Enemy of the World. Their pre-release rollout has sometimes been amusing and otherwise over the top; either way, Pete Wentz is like the Jay-Z of bad pop-punk. I honestly stuck around for them not for the sake of journalistic integrity, but more because I didn't know what to do with myself for until the other show started.
Goofy kids began throwing limbs and practicing their martial arts before the band even took the stage. And once the band actually did start playing, the pit action was baffling (particularly, "Beatdown in the Key of Happy"); from the elevated seats in the Blender Theatre @ Gramercy you could witness a massive swelling of ridiculous proportions, people swaying to and fro, hands in the air whenever the bearded dudes on stage called for it. I'm not really into the whole SCREAM ALL THE BANTER THIS IS A ROCK SHOW WHOOOOO thing but they certainly did it well; if Four Year Strong had a collective, hairy palm, there were probably about a thousand kids resting comfortably in it.
What was up with the "radio edit" of "Semi-Charmed Life," though? The band skipped the entire bridge, and while radio stations often would play the song edited that way, others played it in full for sure. I know the whole idea of that covers album was a salute to alternative radio of the '90s, but still. C'mon.
Set list (10:12-10:54):
- Bada Bing! Wit' a Pipe!
- Abandon Ship or Abandon All Hope
- Prepare to Be Digitally Manipulated
- Semi-Charmed Life (Third Eye Blind cover)
- What the Hell is a Gigawatt?
- Beatdown in the Key of Happy
- It Must Really Suck to Be Four Year Strong Right Now
- Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Hell
- Wasting Time (Eternal Summer)
- Maniac (R.O.D.)
- The Takeover
- Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die