There are very few bands that are able to transcend small clubs to larger venues and do it well. Weezer did it. Face to Face did it. And dammit, Brand New can do it, too.
Unless you've been living under a rock, or have been subjected to residence in a biosphere, Brand New is a quartet from Long Island, NY, who have seemed to have gotten big, really fast -- part of it off the heels of last year's breakout single "Jude Law and a Semester Abroad," but the heels became a running start with their 2003 album "Deja Entendu."
"Deja" is so infectious that even those stone cold writers over at Pitchfork Media gave it a higher rating than the new Death Cab AND Elvis Costello.
With that said, it's understandable that almost overnight, Brand New has gone from the pimps of college radio to the darlings of mainstream media, with videos on MTV2, Fuse/Much Music and insane radio play.
Their show at Seattle's Showbox was a culmination of this DIY-gone-machine hype: a barrage of smoke and lights, vintage amps, dancing and frat boys. But I'll get to that in a bit.
The show started off with rain-soaked kids enjoying the sounds of local heroes and major label newbies, Acceptance. And while they are mediocre at best, on this night Acceptance really came off like the poor man's Further Seems Forever. Even their stage antics seemed pre-planned, complete with punk jumps and microphone stand twirling. Needless to say, I hit the bottle pretty hard at that point.
Following that band was Eisley -- who were, by far, the most out of place band. These kids were terribly good and I almost felt sorry that their talents were wasted on trying to engage a crowd who were made up of Hot Topic kids, primed and ready to mosh at any given moment. Eisley's sweet folk rock, to me, was the surprise of the evening. Their singer reminded me of Portishead's Beth Gibbons -- breathy, yet soft. Awesome band, it's a shame that they weren't appreciated.
And as nice as I thought the guitarist from direct openers, Hot Rod Circuit was, I decided to sit them out and sober up in the restaurant.
That brings us up to our lovely headliners, Brand New. So as I mentioned earlier, they had a light show, smoke and in a lot of ways it seemed like a front. Not by the band themselves, but to please a segment of the crowd. Now as much as I loathe those who shop at Hot Topic and embrace all that is Avril, I cannot stand the new Hitler Youth -- Frat Jocks. And they were there. To see Brand New. In mass.
Ready to shed their pop-punk skin, Brand New ripped through many of the songs from "Deja." During "The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot," they even broke out a slide guitar. It was at that moment that I saw through their jock-pleasing stage antics -- Jesse Lacey and gang want to be the new Built to Spill. It was very sweet.
For many of the acoustic-driven songs, they had former Movielife axeman, Brandon Riley, come out and shred (using that term very lightly, mind you).
It was interesting to see all the kids sing along to the new tunes, as well as songs from "Your Favorite Weapon," I found it really interesting when jocks and punks united to chant during their two radio hits "The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows" and "Sic Transit Gloria."
Yes, I stood next to a guy with an Abercrombie shirt yelling "Die young and save yourself." I was officially grossed out.
All in all, the show was good, the performances were tip-top, and even the younger crowd didn't really bug me. I think it's cool that Brand New is touching people from all walks of life, but seriously, I'm not sure if I can bond with the guys who made my youth a living hell with taunts of "fag" and often stole the proverbial girl (that being a metaphor for all things high school).
Am I an indie rock snob? Probably. Do I care? No. I'm more than happy for a band to sell music to the people that shunned them years ago, but when that starts affecting my ability to have a good time (i.e. jocks crowding the bar, standing in front of me, taking my seat), then it needs to be dealt with.
Although with the band rapidly becoming Brandnew To Spill, I don't think I'll have to worry about Alpha Kappa Gamma Tri Lambs taking over so soon.