By Marc Butcavage, Video Editor
We arrived at the venue late as I've come to expect from certain drivers who will remain nameless. Still a little tipsy from our pre-show activities, we made our way through will call as screens in the lobby projected the first opener, Sleep Bellum Sono. By the time we made it in, they had already finished, but I wasn't too upset. I've managed to catch a few of their gigs in the past, and honestly, I was not impressed. However, having missed them, I find it unfair to judge them, so I will kindly bite my tongue.
After some transition time on stage and a few drinks at the bar, Sainthood Reps took the stage. How anyone found this four piece to be the ideal opener for a band such as Brand New is absolutely beyond me. The audience was treated to about 25 minutes of a band failing to attain the melodic hardcore sound they were so desperately trying to replicate, while the lead singer did his best and worst Zack de la Rocha (of Rage Against the Machine) impression. At some point in the set, they simply took to ripping off the main hook from the ever-terrible Blindside song "Pitiful" while doing their damn best to copy the exact lyrical structure of Nirvana's "Heart-Shaped Box." I'd like to make a joke about how the only thing these guys are reppin' is secondhand embarrassment, but I like to think I'm above that.
What has always set Brand New apart from other 2000s pop-punk bands, to me at least, is their ability to consistently grow album after album. While fellow Long Island natives and arch rivals Taking Back Sunday continued to follow the same tired formula, Brand New took it upon themselves to step outside of the chugging, four chord punk a lot of us grew up with. The release of both Deja Entendu and the following Devil and God… mixed sprawling orchestrations with pained lyrics that make most bands of the same caliber look like 3rd grade poetry. Let's be honest, Jesse Lacey is not the most talented lyricist out there by a long shot, but he certainly isn't stuck in the delusion that he is still a teenager. This definitely came across in the encore performance of "Soco Amaretto Lime" in which he sang the line "I'm just jealous ‘cuz you're young and in love" and stark and more grown up change to "You're just jealous ‘cuz we're young and in love." Lacey certainly realizes his age, but doesn't let it detract from the fans who still identify closely with his music.
The band played a wide spectrum of songs from all four of their major studio releases, averaging a good 25% for each album, give or take, enough to please die-hards and passive fans alike. Songs such as "Luca", "Jesus Christ", and "Sowing Season" were met with nostalgic sing-a-longs from the audience, while "Jude Law and a Semester Abroad" and "Seventy times seven" prompted a sizable, yet controlled pit in the middle of the theater. Overall, it's hard to imagine anybody left the show disappointed. I did find the drums to be too low in the mix, which doesn't make a whole lot of difference, but the band could have definitely benefitted from a little more percussive low end, especially for the songs that utilized a second auxiliary drummer.
For many, Brand New may just be a holdout for pent up high school nostalgia, and while the members may be aware of this, they certainly don't play that way. I went in expecting to be transported back to a time when I was 16, but ended up seeing a finely-tuned band that continues to grow despite catering to a genre that more often than not gets stuck in a place and time.