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Slam Dunk Festival Diaries: Set It Off


Frank Iero may have coined the genre of CoatCore, but if nobody has yet claimed the title of groove-punk, then that award definitely has to go to Floridian quartet Set It Off! Their sun-drenched, upbeat melodies came shining into my musical sphere only last Wednesday, at the Manchester show of their UK co-headliner with With Confidence, and ever since their sun-drenched pop punk has brought the summer vibes to even the darkest of English days!
Opening with the light, effervescent ‘Why Worry’, the outside world seemed to fade away, as frontman Cody Carson’s enigmatic stage presence drew eyes to him from throughout the Key Club floor and balcony, iconic blue stripe, blue arm and wide, infectious smile all present and correct! Not once throughout the set did my arm drop to my side- whether it was waving clapping or punching the air with joy, the ache in my arm has only just faded after what was a veritable masterclass in audience interaction from the vocalist, whose expression was a mixture of awe and disbelief as he removed his earpiece to hear the earth shattering screams as the whole room sang along vivaciously to the bubbly banger that is ‘Ancient History’, taken from the band’s sophomore album ‘Duality’. Never forgetting their punk roots, Set It Off treated the Key Club to a rousing rendition of ‘Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing’, and the shouts that rose in sync with Cody’s resembled a post hardcore gig as opposed to a groovy pop punk show, only added to by Cody impromptu ascension up onto one of the huge speakers that framed the stage, which earnt him disdainful looks from the venue security, and cheers and shouts from the crowd as he leapt back to the ground, drawing excited squeals from many of the girls around me! During ‘Upside Down’, the show was stolen by Dan Clermont whose trumpet solo increased the groove and swagger of the track tenfold and almost involuntarily caused the crowd around me to slip seamlessly into a unified bop, a sultry grooving atmosphere that only grew with the introduction of ‘Diamond Girl’, a beautiful ode to the object of the writer’s affections and a simultaneous dig at the stupidity of their previous partner for letting them go! In an endearingly heartfelt speech, Cody dedicated the set’s closer ‘Life Afraid’ to the people of Manchester following the horrific attacks that occurred in the city the previous week, and the cheer that rose up in response was deafening, showing the true unifying power of music to bring people together in the face of tragedy for a good old fashioned sing along and dance!
The feel-good factor of Set It Off’s live shows cannot be overstated- not one person, regardless of their usual music taste, left that room without a beaming smile on their face and the sunshine-infused melodies dancing around in their heads! The perfect soundtrack for summer, Set It Off never fail to draw you into their ethos of having fun and letting go, to the point where you find yourself walking on the hands of the crowd wearing a bright pink wig (looking at you there Cody!) and releasing your stresses and worries in one huge, groove-punk explosion! I cannot recommend their live shows enough- it was exactly what the people of Manchester needed following the tragic events of last week to restore their faith I live music and exactly what the Slam Dunk crowd needed to revitalise and reinvigorate them to be able to see the night through to the small hours! Forget chocolate, summery cocktails and swimming pools- pure, unfiltered happiness can only be found at a Set It Off show!
Set It Off’s latest album ‘Upside Down’ is out now via Equal Vision Records.
Set It Off’s Twitter: @SetItOff
Set It Off’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/setitoffband/
author avatar
Glenn van den Bosch