BoySetsFire at Islington Academy
Contrary to the suggestion in their name, BoySetsFire are no longer boys. Originally forming back in 1994, the post-hardcore band have since released six studio albums, eight extended plays and two live albums and have gone through nine members. Of these nine, only John Latshaw and Chad Istvan (guitarists) and Nathan Gray (lead vocalist) have remained throughout. Now, after just under 20 years, they have recruited two new band members and brought back old bassist Robert Ehrenbrand to come across the pond from Delaware to perform a high-energy show at Islington Academy.
As self-proclaimed pioneers of post-hardcore rock, BoySetsFire have always blended old-school hardcore with melodic punk hooks and choruses, proven here tonight solely with Gray’s performance as a frontman. His vocals change with ease from heavy, angry screaming to a calmer, more reserved voice. It is when the band are more controlled that they are at their best. The nigh-on metal guitar riffs and relentless screaming don’t always work – perhaps 20 years ago when they were politically enraged teenagers, but years on, the anger seems a bit forced. They may know this as they focus most of their set on their latest material from recently released album While a Nation Sleeps…
Nonetheless, they do have life in them. Coming back with a new line-up has done them good: the newer members bring freshness to old songs while the original members keep the proceedings on familiar ground. Guitarists Latshaw and Istvan continue to produce some great guitar hooks together (e.g. on recent track Closure), while new drummer Dan Pelic and new bassist Chris Rakus are well-rehearsed on both older and recent material. Overall the band work well as a unit.
However, with the recent success of bands like Bring Me to the Horizon and to a lesser extent You Me at Six, BoySetsFire seem to be trying too hard to be young and cutting edge. Perhaps it would be a wise decision for them to lay down the baton until they wear themselves out. On the other hand, last night’s show did say they have a while yet before it happens.
For further information about BoySetsFire and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Closure here: