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On a day off from supporting Motion City Soundtrack, Set Your Goals took tourmates The Swellers to industrial South Hackensack to headline a show at School of Rock. Joining the line up were local acts Bayonet, Dear Tragedy, and My Only Escape, but I arrived in time only to catch The Swellers.
Blending punk-pop with traditional punk, The Swellers played a solid set for thirty-five minutes. The Michigan four-piece stuck heavily to their latest effort, Ups and Downsizing, on Fueled by Ramen Records, but also mixed in older cuts as well. Highlights from the night included “2009” and “Welcome Back Riders”. Frontman Nick Diener did his best to excite the crowd, but ultimately the band’s biggest downfall is their lack of originality and excellent moments — the band is extremely solid but never truly excels. After giving thanks to New Jersey for its excellent punk scene — name-checking Lifetime in the process — The Swellers closed their set with “Do You Feel Better Yet?”.
Set Your Goals exploded on stage with “Gaia Bleeds (Make Way For Man)”, the crowd appropriately reacting with an enormous pit. Guitarist Audelio Flores tackled the song’s brutal vocals (recorded by John Gula of Turmoil in the studio) while the crowd tackled each other in attempts of making the pit as large as possible. Things hardly slowed down with the band taking on one of their oldest songs, “Goonies Never Say Die”, next.
The singalong-ready “Look Closer” followed, with the the bigger Jordan Brown and much, much smaller Matt Wilson trading vocals. Though vocally and aesthetically opposites, Brown and Wilson play off each other extremely well. The one-two knockout punch of Mutiny opener “Work in Progress” directly into “We Do It for the Money, Obviously!” was a great addition to an already solid set.
The lighthearted “Summer Jam” was a fun three minute romp, and 2009 title track, “This Will Be the Death of Us”, sounded great. The explosive “Equals” — written about the the necessary equality between band and fans in a punk community — preceded a solid performance of the Something Corporate-inspired “To Be Continued…”. Set Your Goals closed the set with “Mutiny!” and its associated introductory track, “Dead Men Tell No Tales”. The full list:
Gaia Bleeds (Make Way For Man)
Goonies Never Say Die
Work in Progress
We Do It for the Money, Obviously!
This Will Be the Death of Us
To Be Continued…
Dead Men Tell No Tales
Blurring the lines between punk-pop, punk, and melodic hardcore, Set Your Goals played a solid forty-five minute set to a half-filled venue. In a headlining role, though, it was somewhat disappointing to see the band play just fourteen songs, even if the fourteen selected were arguably the band’s best songs. The band continues on through the the United States in direct support of Motion City Soundtrack, including another date the next night in Manhattan’s Irving Plaza.
All photographs by the excellent Danielle Shepherd.