I Set My Friends on Fire played at Mohawk Place last weekend. The show on February 25 marked the third sold out show in a row on the 10 Years of Slaughter tour, celebrating the anniversary of their popular debut album You Can’t Spell Slaughter Without Laughter.
Awaken I Am made the trip all the way from their hometown of Brisbane, Australia to tour the US with Kissing Candice and I Set My Friends On Fire. Although far from home, they received a warm welcome from the crowd. Their music was more in the vein of rock than the metal bands that make up the rest of the bill, but it resonated with the crowd. Awaken I Am played a selection of songs which included some off their latest album which they released last year on Victory Records, Blind Love. When I stopped by the merch table, I noticed that the t-shirts and album cover included the words ‘Blind Love’ spelled out in braille, which was a nice touch.
Long Island metal heavyweights Kissing Candice was a stark contrast to the previous act. The stage filled with the haze of smoke, as the five piece ensemble took the stage in horror-show costumes and masks. The music was as intense as the theatrics, an industrial metal rage that got the crowd moshing once they were over their initial awe. This band is not for the faint of heart. If you’re a fan of heavy hitters like Slipknot, you need to check them out. While tour with Awaken I Am and I Set My Friends On Fire ends on March 16 in Oklahoma, they are playing a show in Illinois on the 18th, followed by a hometown show when they get back to New York at Revolution in Amityville on the 21st.
Then came the act that fans had been waiting all night to see: I Set My Friends On Fire. A decade ago, two teenagers with a laptop posted a punk cover of “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” on MySpace. It’s been an incredible journey for the band since then. Worldwide tours, lineup changes, and two full length albums later, the band is still challenging the status quo. Clever insightful lyrics are paired with experimental sounds that incorporate a myriad of genres including hardcore and funk.
The band is currently comprised of founding member Matt Mehana on vocals, Nathan Blasdell on clean vocals and guitar, Connor Mitchener on bass, Chris Thompson on drums and Hector Bagnod on guitar. Out of the gate, the guys brought an energetic vibe that was contagious. Blasdell was encouraging crowd participation between and during songs, but honestly the crowd didn’t need much encouragement to get moving. A mosh pit opened up on the first song, and it didn’t let up.
The setlist was comprised of all the songs from You Can’t Spell Slaughter Without Laughter. I was expecting them to play all the songs in order, like other bands that I’ve gone to when they had 10th anniversary tours, but they mixed it up a bit, which was a pleasant surprise. The music was intense and raw, but with an overarching sense of fun. The band members just seemed so happy to be up on stage, and grateful to be celebrating the birthday of this iconic album.
There will always be a place for music that captures adolescent antics and questioning of authority and societal standards. Fans of I Set My Fire who turned out at the show included everyone from teenagers who were too young to see the band on previous tours to middle-aged folks who were seeing them for the fourth or fifth time. But the majority of the people in attendance were those who were coming of age when the album came out ten years ago, those who connect on a personal level with the disillusionment and angst of a generation that had their American dream ripped away by the great recession. For them, this concert seemed like both a validation of their experience and a communal catharsis. They purged their emotions in the mosh pit.
The 10 Years of Slaughter Tour continues through March 16. Follow I Set My Friends On Fire on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, or visit their My Space page. To learn more about the band, read the recent NYS Music interview.