The Summer Set is a band that I have actually seen two times already, but only as a filler band at music festivals. Safe to say, standing far back from the stage for a set probably no longer than 30 minutes didn’t do them any justice at all. Tonight I was up close and personal at U Street Music Hall in Washington DC, with a perfect view over the heads of a mostly x-on-hand female crowd. This was honestly one of the most incredible performances I’ve seen.
Singer Brian Dales is an incredible vocal talent, sounding about the same as he does on record; but what truly made the performance so incredible was his stage presence and charisma. I was singing along to the songs that I knew, and I just had to pretend that I knew the words to the songs that I didn’t because I didn’t want to stop moving. He was taking tequila shots, telling stories about the band, and doing the “dougie” on stage captivating everyone there.
My personal opinion about the Summer Set from the past has been is that I LOVE some of their songs but their others were probably worth glancing over. This turned out not to be the case as they performed for nearly two hours (I believe Brian said it was one of the longest sets they’ve played in their 9 years as a band,) and I wasn’t bored for a second. They perfectly spaced out their big hits, “Boomerang” first, “Chelsea” somewhere in the middle, and “Lightning In a Bottle” to close off. In between they played songs new and old, and even though I didn’t know most of the words, I knew the melodies to the choruses and could usually figure out what to sing by the second time around. But even though it was fairly obvious which songs were popular and which songs weren’t, as soon as it seemed like energy was leaving at all, they’d play something like The “Boys You Do Get Back At You” and everyone would go wild again.
The other members of the band were fantastic as well. Drummer Jess Bowen was flawless as usual, and the guitarist wearing the hat (not quite sure of his name) was so enthusiastic on stage that I’m sure if he were the singer, he could have been just as commanding to the audience as Brian Dales himself.
I thoroughly enjoyed seeing The Summer Set, and would definitely be open to see them a fourth time, especially in a small environment like this one.
Opening Acts: Karizma, Royal Teeth, Handsome Ghost
I had never heard of any of these dudes before, but since I’ve discovered some great bands in the past from opening acts, I always give them a chance.
Even this guy:
This guy is Karizma, and it was pretty hard for me to not write him off right away. I’m typically not a fan of white rappers, and even less a fan of guys with this haircut. Although I still left not really liking his music, it’s just not my thing in the first place, so that’s okay. I have a ton of respect for this dude, and I think that people who aren’t me will probably vibe to this guy. He prefaced most of his songs mentioning that he wrote it about an ex-girlfriend, and that “hating the guts out of someone you used to love” passion really showed. The crowd loved him and was moving the whole time. In the middle of his set, he quieted the crowd and spoke without the microphone, telling everyone that they should do what they love. It was heartfelt advice that he was obviously taking himself. Again, I personally am not into emo rap but he puts on a great show and would recommend checking him out if he sounds like your thing.
Royal Teeth from Louisiana absolutely blew me the fuck away. I took a snapchat video of them performing “Kids Conspire,” and it didn’t record the sound. I’m more furious about this than the time I was front row at Talib Kweli with a dead phone. There were two singers, a male and a female with a great dynamic. They sang well together, and they also sang well without each other. When one singer was doing their thing alone, the male singer either played guitar or had his own personal snare drum, and the female singer had her own percussion tambourine-esque things too. The female singer vaguely reminded me of CHVRCHES’s Lauren Mayberry, but being backed by live instruments instead of synth, I feel like I like her even more. It was a super energetic and active performance, and I would love to see these guys again. It’s rare that I come back from seeing a band I’ve never heard of before and immediately download their whole discography, but Royal Teeth is one of those gems.
Handsome Ghost, the act before the headlining Summer Set fell pretty flat. Performing an electro-indie fusion kinda thing, they had the opposite effect that Karizma did on me. They performed a genre I like, and I didn’t really find it enjoyable. They had 3 or 4 people on stage, but the performance felt so empty to me that the main singer could’ve just performed by himself to a recording and I probably wouldn’t have noticed a difference. He started with an acoustic guitar, but after asking the crowd if they could hear it or not decided to ditch it entirely. Maybe he should have gotten a proper microphone for that thing, because the performance just felt super empty. There was a female vocalist on stage as well, but I don’t think I could even hear her at all. Definitely not a good example of the male-female duet thing like earlier performers Royal Teeth. Even the crowdgoers around me seemed to agree, the girl to the right complaining about a noisy intro to a song, asking “When does this song actually start?” When The Summer Set’s Brian Dales asked if we all enjoyed the other acts, it was pretty certain that Handsome Ghost’s was a lot quieter.