Last week Set It Off did quite literally just that, as they set off a trailblazing night of excitement during their touchdown in Birmingham on their Midnight Tour with support from Vukovi and Bearings.
As someone who’s followed the Florida collective on their journey throughout the years, it was admittingly a bit strange for me to see the sheer number of fans stacked outside the venue upon arrival. Hit with a wave of nostalgia, I couldn’t shake my memory of their first UK headline debut in the Kasbah, Coventry where they played to just over three hundred people- with a push. Looking back then and now, as I walked further and further to what felt like a never-ending line, I felt a sense of pride and respect for a band that’s pushed their way through a heavily oversaturated scene and established something more than generic.
Typically, I have a soft spot in my cold seething heart for support acts who are hustling on barely any money, no sleep and no time. Yet as unfortunate as it was I wasn’t completely blown away by the first support act, Bearings. To give them credit a lot of it wasn’t their own fault, they’re genre is infiltrated with generic sad emo bands who all wash over as the same sound and make it incredibly hard to stand out with poetic lyricism that doesn’t sound painfully generic. Whilst their stage presence was enthusiastic and humbling, their songs seemed to flatline however I am hopeful for the future of Bearings and see the outstanding potential.
In a heavily male-dominated industry it’s always refreshing to see a female fronted band, especially one that’s as perky, off-the-wall and vivacious as Vukovi. The Scottish four-piece have what can only be described as a “messy madness”, to which I mean there set is usually a bit frantic or all over the place. This time the charming fronting lady Janine Shilstone was down with the flu, but in spite of that she gave it all the energy she could with her last sniffled breath, even leaping into the crowd to sing along with fans which ended up cutting out her microphone at some bits but gave the chance for the audience to sing along which is what resulted into a “messy madness.” As well as their down to earth attitude that makes you feel like you’re already a part of the band just from how Shilstone addresses the crowd “oh hello again friends!”, they also have insatiably catchy hits parred with an ecstatic stage energy, and overall are a band you can’t afford to miss.
As Set It Off pounced on stage I felt a burst of butterflies overwhelm me, although I’m not a super fan it’s very rewarding to watch a band who’ve fought tooth and nail to be here finally relish in their success. Pouncing onto the stage frontman Cody Carson swooned the crowd with his delightful personality and baby face that practically sent the whole room into a frenzy.
Leading in with ‘Lonely Dance’ the set list was favorable to their new album Midnight but didn’t skip a beat with the classic old hits that had fans practically blowing out the speakers with how loud they were singing back. That’s what I appreciated the most. Set It Off have a phenomenal crowd rapport and maintain lively stage energy that isn’t too cocky and actually engages with its audience on a personal level that a fan could walk away from and feel like they actually connected with the band in that moment. There was a sense of unified trust and love in the room, fans hugging each other and crying, which not only is a real tear jerker but reminds you that bands like Set It Off don’t just get on stage, play songs and then leave, they bring people together to create a safe space external to the chaos of today’s confusing world.
The night was an emotional rollercoaster of laughs, cries and dancing along to their catchy hits. However, the one thing that nagged at me was how short they undersell themselves to the point that’s its practically dangerous. Playing a sold-out show in the 02 Institute2 would be fine if you’re a mundane pop band that everyone can just sway their hips to but this is Set It Off, the same Set It Off who have crowd surfers flying across the air, mosh pits and all sorts of insanity at their show. They easily could have sold out a bigger venue and from being stuck practically pressed against the wall in the back of the room despite getting here an hour before, I think fans would have enjoyed a bit more room.
Overall, I’d rank it 7/10- Come on! You’re Set It Off, play a bigger venue because you’ve clearly earnt it with the success of your tour turnout! Other than that, a great night.