Fans standing in a line that follows the sidewalk down the block and wraps around the corner create a murmur as they peer up the line to see what’s happening as the doors open ahead of schedule on August 19, 2017 in Cincinnati, OH.
No complaints from anyone, everyone is excited to get into the air-conditioned Bogart’s concert venue, but moreover, they’re excited for the highly-anticipated concert featuring Patent Pending, Set It Off, and Simple Plan. A three-band bill that’s packed with energy and more jumps than you could count.
Patent Pending is first up. After seeing hundreds of bands over the years, it’s not easy by any means to impress me with a band’s live show. I first saw these guys opening for Set It Off on the Something New Tour last October on a tiny stage in a tiny town called Lancaster in eastern Pennsylvania. I remember clear as day being blown away. My jaw dropped as soon as they took the stage. I’ve seen them perform a number of times since then, each time never failing to wow me.
This Cincinnati show was no exception. From the get-go, the whole band was off their feet jumping. Lead singer, Joe Ragosta, would join the crowd several times throughout their whole set, from standing on the barricade to sing with the crowd, to crowdsurfing mid-set. After one song, he applauds one of the security guard’s professionalism after Ragosta got sweat on him, leading the audience in a chant of the guard’s name, Matt.
Ragosta wasn’t the only crowd surfer that night. After the third song, a fan comes surfing over the barrier, grabbing Ragosta’s hand on his way out of the photo pit. As he excitedly returns to the crowd, he comments about how he wanted to get the crowd going with it. The energy in the room only builds. Before “Anti-Everything,” Ragosta tells the audience that Patent Pending and Set It Off have been friends for 11 years, and how Dan Clermont (lead guitarist of Set It Off) choreographed synchronized dance moves just for Patent Pending, that they’d perform in the song. Sure enough, the whole band joins together in dance during the song, inducing cheering from the loving crowd. As they played more of their hit songs, such as “Let Go,” “Brighter,” and “Hey Mario,” the crowd was filled with smiles all the way through the set. Ragosta takes a minute between songs to refer to recent events, namely the deadly protests and marches that transpired in Charlottesville, VA, announcing that their band does not stand for nazis or racists, which gets the crowd erupting in applause. The band closes out their set with fan-favorite “Douchebag,” leaving the audience on a fun, upbeat note.
The second band on the bill, Set It Off, is a band I’ve had the pleasure to get to know and watch grow over the past several years. They were the band that introduced me to what it means for a band to put on a good live show. They showed me why people come out and pay to see live music performed. Between their energy and their use of crowd interaction during their set, Set It Off is not a band to miss out on seeing live.
They opened their set with “Ancient History,” creating a beat the crowd can’t resist clapping along with. Frontman, Cody Carson, makes way for lead guitarist, Dan Clermont, to take front and center of the stage to rip a roaring guitar solo. “Never Know” provides a fun tune for the crowd to dance along with. Clermont’s solo wasn’t his only time to shine during their performance. During the title track of their most recent album, “Upside Down,” Clermont trades out his guitar for a trumpet, surprising fans and providing their set with a unique buzz that garners the entire audience’s attention.
As Set It Off’s set continues building energy, the crowd takes out their phones to light up the stage for a brief, slower moment, as they perform a snippet of Drake’s “Fake Love,” leading effortlessly into an angry, fan-favorite “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing.” As the song reaches its peak, Carson climbs atop a stack of cabs with the band’s name written across them, still singing, and proceeds to jump off the cabs and over Clermont, all while never missing a single note, and inducing applause and cheers from the concert attendees. Just as Clermont’s guitar solo wasn’t his only time in the spotlight, Carson’s cab jump wasn’t his only daring stunt. During the band’s finale, “Why Worry,” Carson sizes up the crowd and walks on top of the crowd, his feet being held up by the crowd’s hands, as he balances until it’s time for him to crowd surf back up to the stage. While Carson’s on stage, Joe Ragosta runs out and picks up Carson like a baby and runs around stage. Through all of this, Carson miraculously never misses a single beat. Set It Off managed to pull off yet another great live performance.
Simple Plan takes the stage as the tour’s headliner, in honor of their first full-length album, No Pads, No Helmets… Just Balls, turning 15. After the band’s third song of the night, “You Don’t Mean Anything,” singer Pierre Bouvier talks about growing older, with their album turning 15 and expresses his gratitude for still having his hair, as bald-headed guitarist, Jeff Maker, glares at the frontman in jest. The set continues as Bouvier jumps down to the barrier to sing with fans and the whole band runs around, making use of the entire stage at Bogart’s, as they play through their famed album in order, including hits “I’m Just a Kid” and “Addicted.” Following “God Must Hate Me,” Bouvier introduces himself and his band, giving way to Maker to shred on his guitar to show the audience his insane guitar-playing capabilities.
Preceding “Grow Up,” drummer Chuck Comeau takes a leave of absence from behind his drum kit to take center stage and ahold of a microphone. Comeau tells the audience how he’s always wanted to be the singer of a band, and that was his chance. As Bouvier takes a seat at the drum kit, Comeau starts singing “Grow Up” and stage dives into the audience, who happily catch him and return him to the stage. The set ends on album closer, “Perfect,” which starts with Bouvier playing an acoustic guitar and singing by himself on stage. The crowd helps by singing along as loud as they possibly can, even as the full band joins in mid-song.
After momentarily leaving the stage, Simple Plan returns for a seven-song encore. The encore started with energetic hits such as “Shut Up” and “Jump,” and led to an emotional “This Song Saved My Life,” that Bouvier paid tribute to bandmate David Desrosiers, who is taking time off from touring to battle depression. The band brings back the energy with “Crazy,” which featured Bouvier running out into the audience, into front of house mid-song to sing part of the song, surprising fans at the back of the venue. The show closed out with “Welcome To My Life,” leaving the entire room with the buzz of nostalgic energy the crowd initially came for.
Show date: July 14, 2017
Set It Off
SET IT OFF
Review and photos by Shane Haley