Set It Off blazed triumphantly into the Valley on Friday, bringing their Midnight World Tour another sold out date.
Super Whatevr started strong, their message of overcoming your obstacles really resonating with the audience. The passion project of Skyler McKee, Super Whatevr has really come into its own over the last year. Their set started with a sing-a-long to “Kathrin With a K” and the ever popular chorus of “Benjamin Alphabet” (hearing a venue of teenagers screaming “holy fuck” in unison is certainly an experience).
McKee also comments regularly on suicide and mental health, brought to a head on “Someone Somewhere Somehow”. At this point, the band had a rapt audience, hanging on every word and shouting the lyrics back at the stage. They closed with “Bloomfield”, leaving the stage to make room for the rest of the show.
Insanely popular Aussie group With Confidence provided the direct support, and the screams were deafening. Each member of the band got their own shouts and professions of love, but it was singer Jayden Seeley that commanded the audience. His vocals and pure energy had the room jumping from the opening notes of “Keeper”.
With Confidence has fully embraced their redemption arc, after losing a band member to negative allegations and a whirlwind of bad press. That band is no more- the With Confidence that took the stage at The Nile did so with poise and gusto. Their slightly longer set was strong, built on solid instrumentation and Seeley’s impressive vocals, shared with dual vocalist Inigo del Carmen. The crowd was loathe to see them go, screaming for more music as the band left the stage.
Set It Off has been MIA from Arizona for quite some time, so this sold out show in Mesa felt like a long time coming. Armed with a plethora of lights and a video screen, the band gave the fans elevated production to match the kind of show they’re now performing.
The energy in The Nile was unreal. Kids of all ages crushed themselves against the stage to get even a fraction closer to singer Cody Carson, guitarists Dan Clermont and Zach DeWall and even drummer Maxx Danziger, who spent the set making faces and crushing his kit. Carson has always been the theatrical frontman, his total charisma and genuine charm drawing people in like a magnet. In the years that the band has been away from Arizona, their presence onstage has only gotten bigger
Set It Off was touring in support of their new album, Midnight, adding multiple new songs into their classic setlist. “Lonely Dance” and “Killer in the Mirror” upped the ante on the band’s showmanship and theatrical tendencies. Carson also took a moment to speak about his father, who passes away before the band really took off. He dedicated “Unopened Windows” to him, his way of keeping the memories alive every night.
The guys took it back to Duality on “N.M.E”, with a little N*SYNC bridge of “It’s Gonna Be Me” that had the girls swooning in delight. The sound and the energy kept building, with the band stepping aside so Danziger could pound away to a medley of covers (including Billie Eilish, Britney Spears and even a snippet of “Baby Shark”).
The band now has an impressive catalog of music, so Carson added another medley of song to the set that drew all the way back to the Cinematics era of the band. The fans, many of whom were already decked out in SIO merch, knew every word. Carson spent most of the set at the front of the stage, allowing the audience to cling to his hands as he directed his words at them. In typical SIO fashion, Clermont and Carson whipped out trumpet and saxophone respectively, that smooth brass adding even more dimension to the show and the band as a whole.
They closed the evening with “Midnight Thoughts” before returning with a powerful encore of “Partners in Crime” and the raw anger of “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing”. SIO may have stayed away too long, but the packed venue can only show that this will be the reception when they continue to come back in the future.
Story and photos by Olivia Khiel