Brand New at the University of New Hampshire
Picture the scene: It is a Saturday night in early March at the University of New Hampshire, and thousands of excited students make their way across campus to a crowded arena. As the students squeeze their way into the building, they search for spots close to the action. They soon witness a thrilling performance featuring enough energy, emotion, and adrenaline to fill an entire semester. They leave exhausted and horse from screaming at the tops of their lungs. Is the UNH basketball team looking to secure a spot in the NCAA tournament? Nope. Is the Wildcats hockey team wrapping up another Hockey East title? Close, but wrong again. This night did not belong to any of the UNH athletic teams, but to Long Island cult favorites Brand New. The band, who had played only a handful of shows since completing a major US tour with Thrice over a year earlier, was in the middle of a brief run of East Coast college shows. Their devoted fans had obviously not forgotten about them, for UNH’s sold-out Lundholm Gymnasium was jam packed on this night, which began with a 45 minute set from Philadelphia’s mewithoutYou.
While there are some who consider mewithoutYou one of today’s best and
most original acts, I can’t say I would agree. Aaron Weiss’s scratchy vocal delivery is certainly an acquired taste, and not one I’ve gotten around to acquiring just yet. Few, if anyone in the crowd was familiar with the band, and some voiced their displeasure, only to be reprimanded by Weiss, who called out one of the hecklers towards the front of the stage in the middle of the set. After playing what was apparently a mix of old and new songs , mewithYou left the stage to a polite round of applause, and anticipation began to build for the headliners, as even more fans inched their way towards the front.
Brand New frontman Jesse Lacey took the stage to a deafening roar, and to almost everyone’s surprise, began the show with “Mixtape,” a song from the band’s 2001 debut. Lacey was joined by the entire band mid song, and they then transitioned into “The Quiet Things that No One Every Knows” and “Sic Transit Gloria.” If this were a heavy weight title fight, Brand New would obviously be going for the early knock out, as the crowd was whipped into a near-violent frenzy. Those at the front of the stage were crushed toward the barriers, while those standing behind found themselves getting pulled up off the ground by other fans on numerous occasions. For the start of a Brand New show, this is pretty much par for the course. The band would slow it down slightly and allow the crowd to catch its breath with”Jaws Theme Swimming,” before cranking up the energy once again with “The Archers Bows Have Broken.”
As is typical of most Brand New shows, Jesse screamed and flailed as if every song was the last he would ever sing, and the crowd ate it up. The sound inside the gym wasn’t perfect and could have been louder, but there’s only so much you can expect from a college show, and everything else about the production was spot on. Despite the fact that Lacey said little in between songs and most of it was inaudible, the band still seemed to be enjoying themselves. As the set progressed, Brand New ventured into more material from their most recent effort, 2006’s The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me, and they also included a new song known as “Bride” which they have been playing live for some time. The set came to a close with “You Won’t Know,” during which lead guitarist Vin Accardi tossed his instrument at least ten feet over his head and caught it as if grabbing the handle of an ax.
After a very short time off stage, the band would return to another round of deafening cheers. To the even greater delight of those in attendance, they broke into “70 x 7,” and then closed the show with an acoustic performance of “Play Crack the Sky.” The huge crowd left beyond satisfied with what they had witnessed, and while Brand New wasn’t going to get to hang any championship banners from the rafters, they had come through with another world-class performance. Now if only the hockey team could play that well on a consistent basis, UNH would be all set.
The Quiet Things that No One Ever Knows
Sic Transit Gloria
Jaws Theme Swimming
The Archers Bows Have Broken
No Seatbelt Song
OK I Believe You, But MY Tommy Gun Don’t
You Won’t Know
70 X 7
Play Crack The Sky