Brand New / Thrice / mewithoutYou - live in New York (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Brand New / Thrice / mewithoutYou

live in New York (2007)

live show

Hammerstein Ballroom is a very large venue. It can fit approximately 2500 patrons, actually. When watching bands perform at these type of venues from a seated mezzanine section, it can reduce your enjoyability quite considerably. Luckily, this was a compromise I took on -- albeit begrudgingly -- due to the rather affectionate nature I held for the entire lineup playing.

The lights darkened at precisely 6:30 and mewithoutYou took the stage to some roaring applause. It seems the crowd were just excited for the show to get rolling. The band then tore through a 29-minute, 7-song set without interruption (for the Punknews regular, think modern Against Me!-style). Aaron Weiss barely said a word to the crowd, but I don't think it was due to nervousness -- the band were merely pumping out as many songs as possible in their allotted time. The majority of those derived predictably from their last album, 2006's excellent Brother, Sister, while the band threw in the opener and closer from its predecessor, 2004's Catch for Us the Foxes. They sounded exquisite, as usual, and didn't miss a beat. Some cool, eccentric guitar tones spiced up "January 1979" while the playing of their most dynamic songs really helped the set flow and punctuate well. A cool, original interlude was even thrown in about midway. Although they were the primary opening act, they still had a flashing graphic in the back, which merely consisted of Brother, Sister's cover -- it was a nice aesthetic, though. Excellent, as was expected.

Set list (6:30-6:59):

  1. Messes of Men
  2. The Dryness and the Rain
  3. C-Minor
  4. Son of a Widow
  5. interlude
  6. January 1979
  7. O, Porcupine
  8. In a Sweater Poorly Knit
Not having seen Thrice since Warped Tour 2005, I was definitely looking forward to hearing some deep cuts off Vheissu as well as some of the standout material off the recently released Volumes I & II of The Alchemy Index. While the band leaned a little heavier on singles off The Artist in the Ambulance than I thought necessary, the set list was a fun and diverse one, and the band played magnificently. Before the set began, what resembled searchlights flooded into the crowd, making for a cool opening. Further usage of lights complimented the set, from a board in the back sporting multi-colored, horizontal lines and a red, orange or blue hue often thrown upon the band. For the cool, reflective "Digital Sea," Kensrue was actually roaming around with the mic, free of his guitar; for Thrice, it was definitely a weird sight. Kensrue didn't quite look like he knew what to do during it, staggering aimlessly around his spot on the stage. Another of Water's songs, "The Whaler," was notably finished quite excellently. Surprisingly, nothing from Vheissu found its way into the set until 10 songs in, but luckily it was one of, if not the, best songs on the record: the chilling "Atlantic." Expecting nothing from Identity Crisis and receiving just that, it was still a good mix of material from the band, however oddly dependent they seemed upon their four-year-old major label debut. A great, spot-on performance as well that showed the band's talent in conveying both their more melodic and confrontational parts.

Set list (7:21-8:18):
  1. Stare at the Sun
  2. Firebreather
  3. Kill Me Quickly
  4. Under a Killing Moon
  5. -----
  6. Digital Sea
  7. Burn the Fleet
  8. The Artist in the Ambulance
  9. -----
  10. Flags of Dawn
  11. -----
  12. The Whaler
  13. Atlantic
  14. Don't Tell and We Won't Ask
  15. -----
  16. The Messenger
  17. -----
  18. Deadbolt
  19. -----
  20. The Earth Will Shake
Then it was time for the real headliners, especially in this area of the U.S.: Brand New. Many complaints have frequently been registered towards the band's live show, whether it's missing notes, playing stupid set lists or pulling dick moves on their fans. While certain fuck-ups during their set did give away further proof that the band's albums are probably cleaned up just a bit, they were often on cue and quite mesmerizing. The band pulled a bold move, opening with The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me's longest track -- the nearly eight-minute epic "Limousine." While its soft-loud transition produced a bit of off-key singing from the crew -- which at this point included four guitarists and two drummers, but thinned out a bit during the rest of the set -- it was a nicely played version. They then delved into a cool interlude complete with some vocals from Jesse Lacey, which preceded another instrumental, "Welcome to Bangkok." All this weird stuff would've imaginably started to piss off the crowd, but they hollered in loud approval when the acoustic rush of "Bangkok" was strummed.

The band added lots of interesting flourishes to all their songs. Whether it was fucking around with "Bangkok" or adding different tones to Your Favourite Weapon-era tracks, it added a much-needed differential to the live show. Of note was an absolutely flawless performance of "Play Crack the Sky" -- Lacey seriously nailed it. Meanwhile, he even obliged their pickier fans with "The No Seatbelt Song" and "The Shower Scene"; the former was entirely more fractured and haunting than I've ever heard it played, and when the full band kicked in during the bridge it made for an absolutely agonizing end to the song -- it sounded like a suicide note. "Sic Transit Gloria"'s intro was practically unrecognizable, but fans managed to recognize that bassline buried underneath it and went wild. "Degausser" featured hilariously unintelligible screaming during its chorus and pre-chorus, but it didn't totally ruin the song.

Lacey even offered up a completely solo cover of Built to Spill's "Car," but I'm not entirely sure he even mentioned who it was by. Unsurprisingly, it seemed no one in the crowd recognized it, including myself. Granted, it was rather hard to hear Lacey's in-between-song muttering, as he was constantly held inaudible by rabid screaming.

The encore itself was original and more than a pleasant surprise. An opening guitar riff reminiscent of "Jesus" was played for quite a while until the entire band came in for a long instrumental outro with a huge, awesome climax. Certain moments on The Devil and God seriously lead me to believe Brand New would like to replace Godspeed You! Black Emperor someday, and this impressive display didn't sway my opinion. In fact, that opening guitar loop was played over the PA after the show, proving that this song may in fact already be recorded. Could an instrumental EP be on the way? Doubtful, but the band could certainly produce a solid effort of such.

Overall, all bands met my expectations, with Brand New even surpassing them just a bit. The ultimate set would've included one or two demos from the leaked Fight Off Your Demons set, but merely having my cake was enough. This show would probably be a 9 had I been on the floor and a 10 if I could actually see what was going on through 20/80 vision. Hence, an 8.

Set list (8:51-10:24):
  1. Limousine (MS Rebridge)
  2. interlude [w/ singing]
  3. Welcome to Bangkok
  4. Not the Sun
  5. The Archers Bows Have Broken
  6. -----
  7. The No Seatbelt Song
  8. The Shower Scene
  9. Play Crack the Sky
  10. Luca
  11. -----
  12. Sowing Season (Yeah)
  13. Millstone
  14. -----
  15. Sic Transit Gloria...Glory Fades
  16. Okay I Believe You But My Tommy Gun Don't
  17. -----
  18. Car [Built to Spill cover, Lacey solo]
  19. -----
  20. Tautou
  21. You Won't Know
  22. Degausser
  23. Jesus
  24. Encore:
  25. instrumental