Let's Get The Band Back Together: The Summer Set Live Review

by - May 02, 2023

Six years after announcing their indefinite hiatus, The Summer Set is back on the road promoting their 5th studio album, Blossom. The last leg of the tour focuses on the Midwest, including a night at House of Blues Chicago.

As the band entered from the side of the stage, the sound of a door closing made its way through the crowd. It immediately felt like they were playing a more intimate space, as if they were starting a basement show instead of playing to a large crowd as the headliner at the House of Blues.

Jess Bowen at House of Blues Chicago, April 28.

That intimate vibe was felt tenfold by the band’s use of the stage. While drummer Jess Bowen’s riser was covered in pink flowers nearly as bright as her smile, her bandmates spent the majority of their time hovering near the front of the stage. Singing directly to the crowd is exactly how they have made their audience feel as though they are right on stage with them.

The show started with “Street Lightning”, the lead single from Blossom. While it received an immediate reaction from the audience, it was their second song, “The Boys You Do (Get Back At You)” that had the floor fully vibrating as they bounced along to each chorus.

John Gomez at House of Blues Chicago, April 28.

In the audience were longtime fans, a few newcomers and lead vocalist Brian Dales’ father, who was celebrating his birthday. It wasn’t a Chicago show unless the fans wearing cowboy hats were present, which Dales noticed before starting “All My Friends” and asked to wear one of their hats.

The setlist, which Dales said is the longest one they’ve ever done, included songs that hadn’t been performed in more than a decade. “Passenger Seat”, from their debut album Love Like This, had the audience happily singing along as well as a cover of Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me”, which was on the extended version of Love Like This. Dales admitted that he spent the last decade trying to pretend that Love Like Swift didn’t exist, but after a recent playback he realized that it was time to embrace it.

Stephen Gomez at House of Blues Chicago, April 28.

There were a few moments of their set that stood out, including when guitarist John Gomez made his way to the balcony to perform an epic guitar solo during “Girls Freak Me Out”. The entire band - Dales, Bowen, Gomez and bassist Stephen Gomez - performed “Back Together” off the stage as they had an audience member, Emily, create an open circle in the middle of the crowd. Everyone took a moment to chant Emily’s name, with Dales joking that they would gladly play past curfew if it meant giving Emily her well-deserved praise. It became yet another moment where the show felt less like a concert hall and more like an intimate gathering.

Throughout the night, Dales mentioned a few times that he couldn’t have imagined headlining at the House of Blues, and that it looked better than he could have imagined.

“Never taking it for granted,” he said. “This is the most perfect night.”

Brian Dales at House of Blues Chicago, April 28.

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