Set Your Goals / Fireworks / The Swellers @ Asbury Park 7/23

The “Gig Life Tour”, featuring headliners Four Year Strong and direct support from Set Your Goals, rotates a number of openers on and off the tour across the country: Fireworks, The Swellers, Grave Maker, Polar Bear Club, Drive A, and A Loss for Words. For the Asbury Park stop of the tour, though, the openers were Fireworks, The Swellers, and Grave Maker. On a humid July evening, the Stone Pony could barely contain the lineup.

Unfortunately, I arrived late and missed openers Grave Maker. I recommend catching them, however, and also checking out their debut full-length, Bury Me at Sea. I did catch the last bit of The Swellers, who sounded quite good if not somewhat out of place on a bill featuring less-than-traditional styles of punk rock. Unlike the rest of the bands on the bill who can be jokingly (yet lovingly) described as “think hardcore, play punk-pop” (citation needed), The Swellers are more direct and traditional punk. The few songs I caught sounded good enough to pick up My Everest and to check into their backlog. Unfortunately, it’s somewhat difficult to find much information on the band; good luck tracking down their discography.

Fireworks

Fireworks

The Swellers’s Michigan brethren in Fireworks played next–another band that is almost impossible to find Internet information on. Spoken of highly and recommended for fans of Set Your Goals, I checked out All I Have to Offer Is My Own Confusion, issued earlier this year on the well respected Triple Crown Records. Immediately I was turned off to the band’s brand of punk-pop–it sounded contrived and uninspired. I’ve seen countless bands rip off New Found Glory better than Fireworks; I have no room on my iPod for another throwaway pop-rock act disguised as a punk-pop band.

Under those circumstances, it should come as a shock that I truly enjoyed Fireworks’s live performance. The band drops its perfectly quantized (read: lifeless) studio production for a much more raw live sound, and, in doing so, sounds great. Drummer Tymm Rengers kept things moving, providing the backbone for frontman David Mackinder’s vocal assaults. The band captured the crowd and were everything an opening band should be, setting the stage for Set Your Goals.

Set Your Goals came out firing with their latest single, “This Will Be the Death of Us”, but it wasn’t until the band reached back into Mutiny! cuts that the crowd truly exploded.  When it did, Stone Pony security didn’t handle things appropriately: pits were heavily guarded against dancing by angry bouncers, and many kids were tossed out early in the show. An embarrassing display by the Stone Pony staff, it luckily did not keep Set Your Goals from playing an excellent set.

The band unsurprisingly pulled half of its set from This Will Be the Death of Us, the band’s first new material in three years. Essential cuts from 2006′s Mutiny! made the list, and the band mixed things up well, even tossing in “Goonies Never Say Die!”, from their debut EP. The band’s strongest moments came during “Work in Progress” into “We Do it For the Money, Obviously”, showcasing the band’s ability to write completely separate yet perfectly segueing songs–the band clearly realizes this, opting to close  with  “Dead Men Tell No Tales” into “Mutiny!”. The full set:

Set Your Goals

Set Your Goals

This Will Be The Death of Us
The Fallen…
Work In Progress
We Do It For The Money, Obviously
Look Closer
Summer Jam
Echoes
Goonies Never Say Die!
To Be Continued…
Gaia Bleeds (Make Way For Man)
This Very Moment
Our Ethos: A Legacy To Pass On
Dead Men Tell No Tales
Mutiny!

Set Your Goals sounded excellent, much different from their normally mediocre performances. “An Old Book Misread” from their debut and “The Few That Remain” (featuring Hayley Williams) were the only glaring omissions to an otherwise near-perfect set and performance. I left before Four Year Strong headlined. I’ve seen the Boston faux-core synth act a number of times, but they unfortunately do not write anything memorable or worth staying for.

Set Your Goals is unfortunately not embarking on a proper headlining tour in support of their latest album, as they will be embarking on the less-than-impressive Alternative Press sponsored “Fall Ball Tour” with throwaway acts like Mayday Parade. When they do return, however, in a headlining spot–don’t miss this band.

Photos by Sara Faz

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2 Responses to Set Your Goals / Fireworks / The Swellers @ Asbury Park 7/23

  1. [...] Punk Rock Feedmeister on Aug.05, 2009, under Reviews A live review with photos and setlists of the "Gig Life Tour" at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey, on July 23, 2009. [...]

  2. Forget not that the world pleasures to sense your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.

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