“I’m gonna stay eighteen forever…”
Brand New “Soco Amaretto Lime”

Getting old is inevitable. You can try elixirs, seek the counsel of shamans or simply refuse the truth but time marches on and you are stuck along for the ride. There is one place that seems to give people a brief respite from the relentless sands of time. A place where people congregate to share a cathartic group experience and celebrate living. That place is a concert.

It takes a lot for me to get me old ass out of the house for a concert. It’s a combination of being near-elderly, having a toddler run me ragged and, in truth, being spoiled. Yup, spoiled. I have been lucky enough to work in an industry where seeing shows is my job (Get out of MY way!) so while I can’t say I am burned out on them I will cop to being choosy. At least I own up to it, right?

There are a handful of bands I will go out of my way to see live every chance I get.
Pearl Jam – always amazing live
Alkaline Trio – I have the tattoo so it is pretty much required
Toy Much Joy – if they would ever reform
Clutch – so, so good
Brand New – they are why I am writing all of this

Brand New hit Wallingford last night when their tour stopped by the Toyota Oakdale Theater. As soon as I heard they were coming to town I immediately set the date in my calendar and ran to tell my Brother-in-Emo Kevin Begley as we share a mutual love of Brand New. This excitement was punctuated by the news that Brand New would be playing their 2006 release “The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me” in its entirety to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the record.

whatishappeningBegley and I are a few years apart in age (I won’t divulge how many, just that I am older) but we share an enthusiasm for loud guitars, multiple vocalists and songs about heartbreak. I mention this because Begs is firmly in the demo for a Brand New fan whereas I should probably be “too old” for them. Luckily my arrested development dropped me into the demo. Not to mention I am not that older than vocalist Jesse Lacey so it’s cool.

I can remember when Brand New’s first record came out in 2001, how I enjoyed it but preferred their on-again off-again rivals Taking Back Sunday more. Two years later they released “Déjà Entendu” and my allegiance switched. After that album I was firmly in Camp Brand New. Three years after that came “The Devil and God…” and I became a devout follower. Not enough to get a tattoo mind you, but enough to get excited at every release and catch them when they played.

Brand New’s maturation musically over those three albums is amazing. The differences musically between record “Your Favorite Weapon” and “The Devil and God…” are night and day. Most bands would probably be deserted by fans put off by the change but Brand New kept die-hards happy and drew in more fans.

In 2009 they went even further in broadening their sound with “Daisy” and then, nothing. No new music for years. They played shows but no releases. Not until earlier this year when the single “I Am A Nightmare”. Begley and I lost our minds. It kept the musicianship they had developed over the years yet had a feeling that spoke to their pop-punk roots.

The band opened last night’s show with “I Am A Nightmare” and it was well-received. It seemed appropriate too as the night was celebrating music from ten years ago we needed a reminder that this wasn’t all about nostalgia.

They followed the new with four songs from Deja. I am not going to lie, I really wanted to hear “Sic Transit Gloria…” but luck wasn’t with me. I also didn’t get “Jude Law” but what can you do? I did find the omission of anything from “Your Favorite Weapon” and “Daisy” disappointing. Mostly in a “Why me?” kind of way rather than true disappointment. I wanted to hear MY favorite songs! Not that I had any issue with the 4 Deja songs selected. The issue I did have was it wasn’t LOUD enough. A complaint I registered with Begley multiple times. Someone got the message because once the band get into “Welcome to Bangkok” the volume was firmly at 11.

This was one of those shows where the crowd knew all the words and sang along passionately. Brand New doesn’t put on a theatrical performance, they play music. There was no real banter. The band members played either in the dark or backlit so they were simply silhouettes. The music stood on its own. And I was happy I went, even if I didn’t get to bed at my normal time of 9:30pm.

I Am a Nightmare
The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows
I Will Play My Game Beneath the Spin Light
Okay I Believe You, but My Tommy Gun Don’t
Play Crack the Sky

Sowing Season
Limousine (MS Rebridge)
You Won’t Know
Welcome to Bangkok
Not the Sun
The Archers Bows Have Broken

And just because this video will always be hilarious here is a classic.



Wow. It’s going to be tough to follow THAT. I think Ed might have left his heart somewhere around paragraph three. Music sure does funny things to people’s emotions. Especially grown emo loving men.


October 17th 2014 I saw Jimmy Eat World play their 2004 album Futures in its entirety to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the release. It was one of the coolest live music moments I’ve ever experienced. Monday night I got to do it again with another one of my favorite bands.

I discovered Brand New my senior year of high school when Your Favorite Weapon came out in 2001. Brand New really defined my transition from high school into college. In 2003 when Deja Entendu came out it’s all I listened to on repeat while driving around campus in my Saturn. Brand New were part of what has now become known as the “emo” era of the 2000’s. And while I liked a lot of the “emo” bands at the time, Brand New was always something a little different, a bit more interesting, more special than the rest.

I’ve had the chance to see Brand New play live a number of times over the years during all their album cycles. Every show is completely different for one reason or another. Monday night in Wallingford it was the anticipation that we were about to see Jesse Lacey scream his way through 2006’s The Devil and God Are Raging Inside of Me from top to bottom. It’s still insane to me that it’s been TEN years since that album came out. Ten! Yes, we are all old. Life happens I guess.

It’s a really strange thing to watch a band play live when you know exactly what the next song is going to be the whole time. The excitement shifts from “what will they play next?!” to “Oh… how are they going to do THIS ONE live?!”. Brand New did a phenomenal job of transforming ‘Devil and God…‘ into a seemless live journey through the songs. It was never a “song stops, song begins” feeling. The transitions from track to track were incredibly creative and exciting (and loud!). The smoke machines they used to fill the theater also made for an incredible visual too.

img_6853I share the same thoughts as Ed on the setlist we got. Would’ve been nice to see some love for Your Favorite Weapon before they started into the “Devil and God…” full album play, but the Deja songs were enough to take me down a satisfying Brand New memory lane.

The biggest take away from the show was the passion people have for this band. Sure, Brand New has had one or two “sorta” hits at Alternative radio over the years but nothing that really propelled them into the so called “mainstream” . To be completely honest, that right there, is the best thing that could’ve ever happened to this band. Brand New will always be on their own level. Just a notch away from everyone else.

As Ed said when we were walking out of the theater “They are the emo generation’s Radiohead“. I couldn’t agree more.

Brand New has managed to build a following of super fans who know every Brand New album, song, word, note, band member, reddit thread, blog post, tweet, all of it. Fans that will pack into a sold out Oakdale Theater in Wallingford on a Monday night. All with the thought in the back of their heads that it could be the last time ever they will see Brand New play in Connecticut.

If Monday night’s show does end up being the last time Connecticut will see Brand New, it was a near perfect closing act.


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