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Review: Brand New at Key Arena (words and photos by Tommy Calderon)

BrandNew060 BrandNew114 BrandNew127-2I’m still coming down from the feelings I felt from watching Brand New on Saturday July 30 at KeyArena with Modest Mouse.

The experience is something I can really only express as life-changing and despite how cliché it sounds, it’s the only way I’m truly able to describe how I feel. I’ve seen hundreds of performances of the eight years I’ve consistently gone to shows and this show was one of the brightest reminders of why I do what I do.

Before you read anymore this make sure you do anything you can to see this band before their inevitable end in 2018. Think of it as a gift to yourself that you will look back on for the rest of your life without regret.

It didn’t really hit me until I stepped foot into the arena. Up until this point I had tried twice to gain press access for Brand New and until now it was rare for Brand New to let any press into any of their shows.

The cacophonous sound of thousands of voices filled my ears and a large stage of lights stood before me as I walked into the pit. A foggy haze floated in the air as the final preparations of soundcheck were taking place for this sold out concert. Floral arrangements decorated the vocal microphone stands at the front of the stage and in a somber moment of thinking I realized it may be the only time I ever get to see them.

Excitement of the few other press people was palpable but the crowd on the other hand audibly sounded more excited for Modest Mouse which honestly surprised me. Nonetheless, I still held my excitement but I had no idea the about the gigantic effect that this show would have on my life.

KeyArena went dark and gold light backlit the band as they walked on stage. Cheers filled the stadium and the familiar riff of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana were the first notes played. Brand New quickly transitioned into their song “Sink” and my heart pounded from the quick spurt of adrenaline my body instantly felt.

For the next hour and 15 minutes they performed, giving every ounce of passion they possibly possessed to the music. You hear a lot about a “professional performance” when large acts play music but Brand New go beyond what it means to perform professionally and beautifully. Brand New are the definition of stage presence.

Each song was executed with precision, intensity and simply delivered a feeling that goes far beyond any studio recording could give.

Lead singer and guitarist, Jesse Lacey has an incredible voice with impressive stamina that allowed him to belt and scream the lyrics for the whole set, sending chills up my spine with each word. Lead guitarist, Vincent Accardi, rhythm guitarist Derrick Sherman and bassist Garrett Tierney were all fantastic to watch perform. It was so easy to get caught watching only one of them at a time for extended moments simply because they seemed to be so enveloped by their parts. Drummer, Brian Lane was definitely my favorite to watch. Along with his compelling energy he exudes while performing he was joined by an additional percussionist that accentuated his playing lending the drums to sound enormous.

Lights enhanced and accentuated the songs. Panels with images and live video from security cameras on stage created a mosaic backdrop for the band.

Songs were played almost without pause and when their was any stage banter at all it was almost always Lacey reflecting on how grateful him and the band were to have fans like they do and about how they’ve gotten to know Modest Mouse like family. I couldn’t help but respect how humble the band was during their talking; you don’t see that kind of gratitude with many bands.

I had a moment at around the halfway mark of their set where I actually set my camera down. It was a moment of realization that I was actually watching this band and that it was real. Not only was this show a bucket-list show for myself, my body was finally making sense of the complex wave of emotions that I was feeling and I acknowledged them.

The set drew to a close in wall of feedback and delay. Members each left the stage one at a time as they caused their instruments to unendingly cause noise. Lacey tore apart the floral arrangements on the microphone stands and tossed the flowers into the crowd. Lights went down with only upside down floral crosses with the text “Brand New 2000-2018.”

Go see them.


Setlist for the evening:

  1. Sink
  2. Gasoline
  3. Millstone
  4. At the Bottom
  5. You Stole
  6. Tautou
  7. Sic Transit Gloria… Glory Fades
  8. Okay I believe You, but My Tommy Gun Don’t
  9. Degausser
  10. Jesus Christ
  11. Luca
  12. Sowing Season
  13. I Am a Nightmare
  14. You Won’t Know