Long Island’s Crazy Donkey packed a walloping lineup into its tiny bar on a weeknight: new and old bands; American and Canadian roots; punk-pop/hardcore and true punk/hardcore. The full lineup was Set Your Goals, Comeback Kid, Title Fight, Smart Bomb, and Valet Parking, but due to a glitch in Google Maps, I unfortunately arrived at the venue to catch just Comeback Kid and Set Your Goals. I was looking forward to Title Fight, especially, after their strong Bamboozle performance.
Long running Comeback Kid kicked things off with Wake the Dead‘s “Partners in Crime”: “I did this to myself, the summer air burning in my lungs / One more glance till I come undone, let’s stop this rising sun”. With those opening lines, frontman Andrew Neufeld demanded crowd participation and rowdiness. Likely the most well-known Canadian punk/hardcore act, the five-piece tore through an excellent setlist loaded with cuts from their strongest effort, 2005’s Wake the Dead, and the packed crowd responded appropriately with singalongs, pits, and stage rushes.
The older songs (like followup “Talk is Cheap” or the much older “Die Tonight” from the band’s 2003 debut, Turn it Around) received the best response, and indeed it seems like the band knows that their latest effort Broadcasting…, was a giant step backwards: Comeback Kid picked just two cuts (“Hailing on Me” and the title track) from that 2007 effort for their thirteen-song, forty minute set. An upcoming cut from Symptoms and Cures, due out this fall on Distory Records, followed “Trouble I Love”; album-closer “Final Goodbye” was the penultimate song, and the band finished with single and title track “Wake the Dead” at 9:15.
Partners in Crime
Talk Is Cheap
Hailing on Me
All in a Year
The Trouble I Love
False Idols Fall
Wake the Dead
When Set Your Goals arrived on stage a half-hour later, the band announced that they would be playing the longest set of their career. It’s not hard to doubt that statement: the California six-piece dug through their entire discography, playing twenty songs across sixty minutes, much more than their last area headline gig. The band’s self-titled 2005 EP contributed the first three songs (in order), building excitement with the instrumental “Reset” and culminating in fan-favorite “Goonies Never Say Die”. The one-two explosive punch of “Work in Progress” and “We Do It for the Money, Obviously!” sent the crowd into a frenzy: “My life: a constant work in a progress / I wouldn’t have it any other way!”
This Will Be the Death of Us contributed six songs, including the crushing “Gaia Bleeds” and the ever-playful “Summer Jam”, the latter of which found vocalists Jordan Brown and Matt Wilson trading lines about the band’s tour experiences over the last five years. “The Few that Remain” was expectantly absent as the song features guest vocals from Paramore’s Hayley Williams, but Set Your Goals has performed the song in a live setting without her before, and it would have been an awesome addition to an otherwise flawless set selection.
The fairly rare “An Old Book Misread” was a treat; in fact, the band played all of their excellent 2005 debut full-length, Mutiny, aside from the minute-long “Don’t Let This Win Over You”. Jawbreaker’s “Do you Still Hate Me?” was an unexpected yet welcomed addition to the setlist, as well. Comeback Kid’s Neufeld joined Set Your Goals for “Our Ethos”, which preceded the powerful combination of “Dead Men Tell No Tales” directly into “Mutiny”. A rousing performance of “To Be Continued…” wrapped up the evening just after 10:30PM.
How ‘Bout No, Scott?
Goonies Never Say Die
Work in Progress
We Do It for the Money, Obviously!
An Old Book Misread
This Will Be the Death of Us
Do You Still Hate Me? (Jawbreaker cover)
Flight of the Navigator
Gaia Bleeds (Make Way for Man)
This Very Moment
This Song Is Definitely NOT About a Girl
Our Ethos: A Legacy to Pass On
Dead Men Tell No Tales
To Be Continued
Set Your Goals had always been a solid live act, but something has seemed to always hold them back. Tonight, however, the band simply exploded and proved they are the unquestionable leaders of the punk-pop meets hardcore genre, a style that is more than overwhelmed with less than adequate or just downright embarrassing acts. It’s great to see the band take out excellent bands like veterans Comeback Kid or up-and-comers Title Fight; a good tour package goes a long way. Set Your Goals is unfortunately joining the weak Warped Tour lineup this year, but expect them to come back around before 2010 ends — don’t miss out.