The Summer Set at The Nile Theater Last Night

The Summer Set
Nile Theater
November 27, 2010

As someone who reviews concerts fairly regularly I try and keep an open mind with every show I see. Being objective is part of the job. In general, giving negative reviews isn't a lot of fun because in my opinion every band, regardless of how good or bad they are, deserves a certain amount of credit for putting themselves out there.

The most diplomatic solution is to just say, 'Well, it wasn't my thing but the audience liked it.' This often is a cop out. Admittedly, this is something I've been guilty of several times before. But for last night's show from The Summer Set at The Nile Theater I'm just going to man up and admit the following: This show sucked.

Remember that awful movie your daughter/niece/little sister/granddaughter forced you to watch on the Disney channel? The one with the then super popular female actress whose character was dealing with those oh-so-difficult teen girl problems? Remember the scene where the lead actress goes to the big dance and in the background there is that band you've never seen before playing crappy pop songs?

Well, this scene happens in every Disney movie (every one I've ever seen, anyways) and if you were to take all the bands that have been in this scene and combine them together you'd get Scottsdale's The Summer Set. That's really the only way to accurately describe this groups music; it's not emo, it's not really traditional pop, it's just, well, the same music you hear on the soundtrack to practically every made-for-TV Disney movie, ever.

If your goal as a band is to dominate the charts on Radio Disney and drive tween girls crazy, well then congratulations, The Summer Set, because you've achieved that goal with amazing mediocrity. You may not be edgy enough to play the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards, yet, but keep releasing those Taylor Swift cover albums (yes, really) and you may just find yourself on the next Now That's What I Call Music. The sky's the limit from there.

In fairness to The Summer Set, their set last night wasn't with out its positive points. They are good at what they do. They know what their fans want and they deliver. Also, drummer Jess Bowen looked pretty bad-ass when performing.

And, for what it's worth, they weren't the worst bad who played last night, either. That dubious honor goes to the white rapper Mod Sun from Minnesota. Mod Sun, who was joined on stage by two members of local rockers Scary Kids Scaring Kids, was spectacularly awful. The only bright spot from the four opening acts last night was Mesa's Austin Gibbs who put together a pretty decent set.

Maybe I just don't understand the music of The Summer Set. But it's not as if their music is a great mystery. In fact, it's about as straight forward as you can get. Which is why I can understand why all of the kids who managed to drag their poor parents along with them to this show would want to be here in the first place. The Summer Set is packaged to look and sound so much like what the kids see on the television that they are practically the next best things to seeing Hannah Montana or The Jonas Brothers in person.

It's formulaic and feels a little bit empty but I guess if it sells records then why not go for it. Look how well that same strategy worked for O Town, right?

Critics Notebook:

Last Night: The Summer Set at The Nile Theatre

Personal Bias: I really, really tried to keep an open mind about this show. But it was so just so incredibly awful.

The Crowd: Tween girls and some tween boys who are just doing music wrong. But God bless the parents who brought their kids to this show and sat through this awfulness for the sakes of their kids. You kids better step up your game for the Holidays this year if your parent brought you to this show.

Overheard In The Crowd: Random Guy to The Summer Set's tour manager "So you're The Summer Set's tour manager?" Tour Manager: "Yes." Random Guy: "Is that crazy?" Tour Manager: "What, being their tour manager?" Random Guy: "Yes." Tour Manager: "No."

Random Notebook Dump: I missed Roger Waters for this?