A Grown-up Brand New Got In Touch With Its Youth At The Bomb Factory
Brand New is a band that lives with many reputations. To the die hard fans, they’re known as being a frustratingly reclusive bunch who have shied away from releasing new music for nearly six years now and only touring intermittently during that time. To others who don’t necessarily adore the Long Island band’s discography, they’re known as a relic of emo’s past who made music for sad sacks. While both may be apt descriptions of the band, Brand New still draws a crowd.
The band’s sold-out performance Saturday night at The Bomb Factory might have been the first time since its reopening in March that the 4,300-person capacity venue felt small. Dallas’ strength in numbers served as another reminder that we don’t need to travel down to Austin for mega festivals like Austin City Limits, which Brand New played the night before.
In true-to-form dramatic fashion, under dimmed lights, frontman Jesse Lacey opened the set by himself with a treat for the audience: a rare performance of “Soco Amaretto Lime,” the closing track to the band’s 2001 debut album Your Favorite Weapon. The song is the type of melodramatic writing that Brand New’s fans fawned over in their adolescence with lyrics like, “We’re gonna stay 18 forever,” and, “You’re just jealous ‘cause we’re young and in love.”
Lyrics like those are also one of the reasons Brand New has shied away from performing its older material from Your Favorite Weapon and its magnum opus Deja Entendu of late. But without any hesitation after being joined by the rest of the band, they moved on and jumped into two cuts (“The Archers Bows Have Broken” and “Millstone”) from 2006’s The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me, the band’s third album that represented its largest creative leap and maturation that spoke more on religion and politics than the follies of youth.
All the same, though, the enthusiastic crowd echoed back the lyrics to all the songs the band threw at them at the top of their lungs, which is an aid for Lacey who isn’t nearly the singer live as he is on record. From there, the band continued a give and take of older and newer material. To the crowd’s continued delight, the band rattled off a string of songs from Deja Entendu highlighted by “Sic Transit Gloria… Glory Fades” and two more older tracks, “Flying at Tree Level” and “Seventy Times 7.”
For the uninitiated, the latter is a diss track to rival Long Island band Taking Back Sunday who have a long and sordid feud. The song features more melodramatic writing such as “I’ve seen more spine on jellyfish,” “I’ve seen more guts on 11-year-old kids,” and, “You’re as subtle as a brick in the small of my back.” On this night, Lacey and company weren’t shying away from their older material as they’ve done in past Dallas shows. Last year at its headlining set for Pegasus Music Festival and in 2009 at the South Side Ballroom, the band certainly didn’t play “Seventy Times 7” or any material from Your Favorite Weapon.
There was no obvious explanation for the change of heart until the end of the set when Lacey finally addressed the crowd using words other than “thank you.” After thanking the crowd for allowing them to tour for so many years and selling out shows like this one at The Bomb Factory, the frontman gave a lesson on the history of the band’s music noting that they’ve always written music that represented their adolescence, the uncertainty of being young and trying to figure out who you are. “Then one day you just figure it out,” Lacey said, after which he and band launched into “Play Crack the Sky.”
It’s a simple enough statement, but one that explains why the band isn’t embarrassed or hesitant to play its older material. After the release of Deja Entendu, an album that brought the band more attention than it would have imagined, the band spent years working to move past that “defining” album with The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me and 2009’s Daisy. It’s worth noting the band didn’t play any songs from Daisy. Somewhere between those releases and now the band’s figured itself out and have accepted that its older melodramatic material is just a part of the maturation process. Now — and the same probably goes for the fans in attendance — the songs serve as pleasant nostalgia that invoke reflective moments of youth.
It’s great that the band has rid itself of free-radical uncertainties of youth, but the band’s set list was also a signifier that it hasn’t quite worked through its issues with fame. As rewarding as it was for the audience to hear older cuts, the band’s most popular to date, “The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows,” was glaringly missing from the set. Maybe next time around.
Soco Amaretto Lime
The Archers Bows Have Broken
I Will Play My Game Beneath The Spin Light
Sic Transit Gloria… Glory Fades
Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don’t
Jaws Theme Swimming
Flying At Tree Level
Seventy Times 7
You Won’t Know
Play Crack The Sky