Shortly before the release of their fourth record, Daisy, in September, Brand New announced what was by far the most ambitious touring plans of their career. Not only would they play the biggest clubs in cities across the country, they would play multiple nights in a number of these cities, and then finish the trek with a hometown stop at the massive Nassau Coliseum on Long Island. At first, I doubted the band's ability to pull this off, and was expecting a whole lot of half-empty venues.
My expectations were pretty far off. Despite Daisy's mixed-to-positive reviews, the House of Blues in Boston was sold out for the second straight night when Brand New stepped on stage November 18th. Having seen the band a number of times, I can honestly say that no two performances are ever the same, and this may have been the strangest, and at times most satisfying, I've witnessed from band.
The night began with a largely-ignored 25-minute set from Crime in Stereo. The band ran into the same problems I feel plague them on CD -- mainly the fact that it is difficult to hear lead singer Kristian Hallbert's vocals over the music.
Next up was long-dormant Long Island legends Glassjaw. Considering the band hadn't toured in nearly three years, I wasn't sure what to expect. I had seen them once before, and I must say they weren't nearly as impressive on this occasion. While they played their blend of aggressive yet melodic hardcore with near-surgical precision, they didn't seem all that interested to be on stage.
The quartet, who aligned themselves in a circle with bassist Manny Carrero facing away from the crowd, played a mix of songs from their two full-length records, as well as a few new tracks including "Jesus Glue." The set list had the crowd, at times, in a fury, and at other times in a state of confusion. Seeing that it was mainly the former, the crowd didn't seem to mind the band's relative indifference.
After an excruciatingly long 45-minute wait, Brand New finally took the stage and opened with the instrumental "Welcome to Bangkok." While the band had used an extended version of the track as an epic closing number on previous tours, this true-to-the-album version served as more of a warm-up than a showstopper.
The Long Island quintet would then get things rolling with "Sink" and "Degausser" before charging into the explosive combination of "You Won't Know," "Okay I Believe You But My Tommy Gun Don't," "Sic Transit Gloria (Glory Fades)," "The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows," and finally "Mix Tape." This string of crowd favorites featured Brand New at their very finest.
After enigmatic frontman Jesse Lacey completed an eerie solo version of "Limousine," the band would showcase new material from Daisy. Much like the record itself, the results were mixed. While Brand New nailed the new, more technically challenging songs, the crowd's enthusiasm dropped through the floor, as those at the front suddenly fell silent and still.
The crowd finally snapped out of their funk later in the set when Band New ripped though two of their fastest and most energetic songs, "The Shower Scene" and "The Archers Bows Have Broken." These two were followed by "At the Bottom," the Daisy lead single which received the best response of any of the new songs.
Instead of leaving the stage before the encore, Lacey instead began to strum the tune to "Wild Thing," which he explained by saying "Sometimes this yellow guitar just wants to play 'Wild Thing,' what can I say." What would a Brand New show be without at least one head-scratching moment?
After over an hour and half on stage, the band would finally bring the show to a close by giving the fans exactly what they wanted: the combination of "Jude Law and a Semester Abroad" and "Seventy Times 7." While Lacey and Co. once refused to play these songs live, they seem to have embraced the Your Favorite Weapon classics as the perfect way to end a show.
Those at the front were throughly exhausted and made their exit completely content with what they had just witnessed. However, it was difficult to ignore the lukewarm reception to nearly every Daisy track. While the band seems to relish the fact their new record has polarized their fanbase, you have to wonder how much they enjoy a packed venue that suddenly goes still whenever they play a song like "Bought a Bride."
Reaction or no reaction, I'm sure the band isn't going to stray away from their new songs anytime soon. As Brand New has proven throughout their career, they aren't going to let the silence of spectators or changing trends affect what they do as a band, either in the studio or in a live setting.