LIVE: Boysetsfire / Off With Their Heads / Gnarwolves @ The Haunt, Brighton

By Tom Aylott

So Boysetsfire have come and gone. And come back again. Still doing the rounds after reuniting in late 2010, the post-hardcore vets have hit Brighton shores for the first night of a short UK tour. How are they holding up after all these years? Let’s find out.

Local punks Gnarwolves [4/5] kick matters off in fine style with a typically strong performance, bring a few more nodding heads to their strengthening cause. Not long after, a tired and jet lagged Off With Their Heads take to the stage for tonight’s second engagement. With sarcastic remarks between songs, they don’t let the fatigue stop them from doing what they came here to do – telling everyone that “this is how you play shitty music”.

Apparent from the moment they take to the stage, BSF are now in their 40’s (or near enough) having formed back in 1994. Knocking into versions of ‘Requiem’ and ‘Bleeds No More’ with enough energy to match bands half their age though, you can’t really say they’re losing they’re flair for playing live. That said, it does seem that the band haven’t moved on that far from the very of-the-era post-hardcore of their early noughties output, with new songs like ‘Bring Back The Fight’ not really pushing the band into any new territory.

As the set proceeds, a few raised eye-brows incur when the soundman sets a weird atmosphere by somehow dropping inter-band music (i.e. inappropriate bass-heavy dance tunes) between two of Boysetsfire’s songs. Things get stranger when the band have the intro to ‘Walk Astray’ played over the PA, rather than just playing it themselves, which was a little odd at the very least.

Later, a mishap involving one man head butting another leaves vocalist Nathan Gray in an awkward position without any security to help the situation, resulting in the band nervously losing their footing for a couple of songs.

Eventually, they gather things together to finish off their set with stronger songs ‘After The Eulogy’ and ‘Rookie’, which, of course, go down great. The set was was long, but the years that BSF have under their belt make it a dynamic one that doesn’t drag, at least not too much. At times you had to ask yourself just exactly what was going on (and not really for the right reasons), but if all you wanted to do was transport yourself back to 2003 and not much else then tonight served its purpose duly.