I've never been to a Brand New show. They're not a band that I was ever as obsessed with as most people seem to be. As I arrived at Stage AE on the north side of Pittsburgh, I witnessed a good chunk of people tailgating out of the trunks of their cars adorned with Brand New graffiti in white puff paint. I thought this was pretty bizarre, but as I walked to the back of the line to get in, which extended over a full city block, I realized that a band like Brand New has a varied fan base. Kids in Converge shirts, people that looked like they stepped out of a Hollister ad and pop-punk defenders all congregated together to see the show.
The show opened up with English rock band Dinosaur Pile-Up. The three piece took to the stage with a basic setup, not needing much more to plow through their set of '90s tinged alternative rock. The band skipped any formal introductions and opened with "White T-Shirt & Jeans," which is exactly what the guitarist/vocalist was dressed in for the evening. The band's fuzzy tone and dynamic tempo from song to song was refreshing, usually switching between driving moderate tempos and slow head-bobbing cuts. Dinosaur Pile-Up seemed like they were watching the clock, keeping the stage banter to a minimum, except to ask the crowd "how the fuck is it going," proclaiming their name and hometown, and thanking Brand New for taking them on the road. There was no insane reaction in the crowd, but during their 26-minute set, the band kept the attention of the crowd, got some people warmed up and definitely won over some new fans that didn't know about the band's existence before the show.
Man Man took the stage with very little time between sets (19 minutes, to be exact). The band stormed the stage to a large applause, and after the start of the first song of the set with a noisy introduction featuring guitar, saxophone and drums, their vocalist marched out from the backstage area in a bright cloak that strangely resembled a moth on acid. Slithering about the stage, he and the band pounded out their set with an entertaining fervor. Each member switched instruments on almost every song, some even picking up multiple in a single song. The set for the night was pretty varied as well, with not one sounding similar to anything else. Rotating between demented circus music, surf and keyboard-driven rock, Man Man got a very favorable reaction from the crowd during their unpredictable time on stage. The band ended their set with a choreographed set of jumps on separate notes and quickly vacated the stage.
After a half hour of preparing the stage, which included the crew draping Terrible Towels (some football thing for you non-sports types) over the cabs on stage, the lights came down and the band took to the stage after a bizarre pop song blared through the speakers in the pitch black darkness of the venue. Lacey and company exploded out of the gate with "Sink." The huge backline of amps were peppered with flood lights, accompanying the huge lights hanging behind the stage. All three microphone stands were adorned with colorful bouquets, a playful nod to the band's Smiths influence. The crowd surged forward as the band started, trying to rush to the front, and was cheering as loud as they could in between songs. The band followed their opener with "Gasoline," "At The Bottom," and "You Stole." There wasn't much energy coming from the band during the chunk of material from 2009's Daisy, which actually matched the content of the songs. Fans of Brand New's older material were appeased with the fifth selection: "Sic Transit Gloria (Glory Fades)." Vocalist Jesse Lacey backed from the microphone during the entire first chorus because of the 2,400-voice chorus in front of him singing just as loud as the PA system. This seemed to reinvigorate the band, as they started traversing the large stage a bit more and expelling more energy as the song concluded. Keeping true to the sequence of 2003's Deja Entendu, the band kicked into "I Will Play My Game Beneath The Spin Light" and "Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don't." These two songs caused the audience to sing along just as loud as before. Delving even deeper into the Brand New vault, "Seventy Times 7" followed, but varied their set by adding a third guitarist who assisted the band in playing "Sowing Season" and "Millstone," and a reworked version of "Limousine." After hearing the opening notes of "Jesus Christ," the crowd roared and sang along while the band churned out the revered single from The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me. The band followed with "Degausser" and "You Won't Know," the latter of which featured Lacey repeatedly singing the chorus of "Louie Louie" by Richard Berry. At the conclusion of "You Won't Know," the band left Lacey alone on stage where he closed out the evening with a solo rendition of "Soco Amaretto Lime," which gave the audience one last chance to sing their hearts out for Brand New.
This definitely wasn't something I would have gone to unsolicited, but I have to admit... Brand New was pretty tight and the crowd, despite having its fair share of mutants, was one of the most enthusiastic crowds I've seen at any show for a long time.