Brand New

support Glassjaw + Thrice
author TL date 23/01/10 venue Wembley Arena, London, UK

And now dear readers, a break in continuity. You see, I actually meant to post reviews of the last three gigs I saw in order of attendance, but due to some computer problems on behalf of Benji, our photographer on the British side of the pond, the first review to be posted will be of the show that actually drew me to the island kingdom in the first place - namely the appearance of Brand New, Thrice and Glassjaw at Wembley Arena in London. Due to some people apparently finding themselves underneath some trains on the day, I got to witness first hand how hard it can actually be for a writer in the UK to get to a gig on time, having to navigate London by means of retardedly slow moving service busses, before we could finally marvel at the grandeur of Wembley Stadium, while approaching the adjacent arena.


Much to my surprise, the first band to play tonight is Thrice rather than Glassjaw (What? I thought Thrice was a bigger? Not in England it seems!) and as AP and I enter with pints in hand, Thrice are already playing their third song "The Earth Will Shake" (we missed "Of Dust And Nations" and "Silhouette"), to a venue across which a solid crowd is scattered, yet with plenty of room to move about between each individual. We find a good spot and witness Thrice play through four more songs, finishing the set off with "Beggars", and in all honesty, I can't help but to be a little disappointed. I had sort of expected Thrice to be almost on par with Brand New when it comes to underground status, and that they would thus play a relatively lengthy set as well, so to see them reduced to such an ordinary support slot, playing to an only ever so slightly agitated crowd was certainly a surprise to me. Especially because if you focus on what goes on up on stage, Thrice clearly have the skill, the charisma, the songs and the format to deserve a show the size of Brand New's. Hell, listening to their songs, I'd say they have the format to deserve a show the size of Muse's, the mainstream just sadly doesn't know of it, and I'm not even a particularly big fan of theirs. So all in all, we got to see Thrice, sure enough, and Thrice played like a band who deserves all the credit they are given in the underground, sure enough, but seven songs, echoing around a venue where the majority of the crowd is still only gradually arriving? Not quite the epic part of the experience one could've hoped for, do you think?



1. Of Dust And Nations

2. Silhouette

3. The Earth Will Shake

4. In Exile

5. All The World Is Mad

6. The Artist In The Ambulance

7. Beggars


In any case, after an expedition to the bar at the back of the floor, it's time for Glassjaw, and as to convince me that they do in fact deserve the spot as main support, their arrival on stage is greeted by a considerably larger group of people making noise down front than was ever the case for Thrice. As the four members of the reformed post-hardcore myth that is Glassjaw come on stage, main(mad)man Daryl Palumbo is the last to arrive, and with his appearance, the band sets upon exhibiting what this genre was about before the skepticist say it became about haircuts, guyliner and autotune. Palumbo launches himself up and around in the air with extreme force, while screaming with all the rage and bitterness of the recordings from his younger years, while Justin Beck is his polar opposite, remaining cool as he squeezes notes out of his guitar and smiling with satisfaction from underneath his purposefully angled baseball cap. The guys tear through mostly "Worship & Tribute" era material, the exceptions being "(You Think You're) John Fucking Lennon" and closer "Siberian Kiss", and while the crowd is still reacting considerably more noisily than they did for crowd, the noise they make is easily drowned out by the extremely loud, sharp and dissonant noise Glassjaw are forcing through the speakers. Again, as much as I want to revere the moment, I'm hard pressed to avoid observing that there's something wrong with it. It's partly the sound echoing across the venue, seeming far from the claustrophobic garage sound of the records, and partly the fact that, despite Palumbo's possessed acrobatics, the bandmembers seem to be playing more to each other than to an audience. Put together, I don't think I'm the only one who feels that Glassjaw simply aren't meant to be seen like this. They belong in some sweaty, hot basement on the east coast, where their controversial noise-mongering would seem much more at home. They belong at the edge of a stage where a maddened crowd of only a hundred or so, is spilling over the front monitors. Where things get destroyed and where the atmosphere is as fucked up as the band's sonic state of mind. Not here, where, despite their experience, passion and professionalism, they still feel like they've been domesticated and put on display in a mainstream format that doesn't suit them.


1. Tip Your Bartender

2. Mu Empire

3. (You Think You're) John Fucking Lennon

4. El Mark

5. The Gillette Cavalcade Of Sports

6. Ape Dos Mil

7. Siberian Kiss

Brand New

Now despite those slightly mixed experiences, I still don't have a doubt in my mind when it comes to what Brand New's show is going to be like, and it turns out that I'm right, as the light dim and the air is instantly filled with anxiety so thick you can almost taste it when you breathe in, and people are now almost standing on each others' feet, stretching their necks, eager to catch the first glipse that will initiate the event we've all been waiting for. Instrumental "Welcome To Bangkok" echoes from the speakers and the crowd is balanced on a knife edge, ready to lose itself in the second the first real song reveals itself, and as the familiar thumping of "Sink"'s bass drum begins to pound collective deep breaths are drawn and unleashed in the first thunderous scream-along of the evening. "IF YOU CALL I'M COMING TO GET YOU!" is cried out in unison, and it is only the first cry of many, as the euphoria builds during "Degausser" and "You Won't Know" and Brand New's brilliant lyricism is echoed word for word by a seemingly fanatically dedicated audience.

Still, it is nothing compared to what happens when the simple strumming of the intro to "Okay I Believe You" is heard, and a howl of relief and exhilaration sounds louder than it would upon the goal in the final seconds of a World Cup Football final. For the next three tracks, "Deja Entendu" fans (and here are many) enter the empyrean, as "Okay I Believe You" is followed by "Sic Transit Gloria" and "The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows". The immense singalongs double in intensity and when the choruses kick in, I reckon I can see about a third of tonight's combined audience in front of me, and all of them are off their feet. I realize I sound like a fanboy when describing this, and I am guilty as charged, because even today my mind still has trouble wrapping itself around the fact that I actually got to witness this.

Like a woman ready for multiple orgasms, we resume consciousness after this first climax, returning to a lesser, yet still considerable level of pleasure, as the next seven songs are picked from the latter two Brand New albums. It's hard to explain, because in many a way, "The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me" can actually be considered the best Brand New album, but it simply didn't have quite the impact that the first two did, and so, tracks like "Limousine", "Vices" and "Gasoline" are received with more of a cognitive fascination, even if choruses are still being wailed at the top of a sea of lungs working over time. Can you imagine people joining Jesse Lacey when he screams "YEAAAAH!" between the lines of "Sowing Season"'s chorus? Can you imagine them dancing around in naive excitement to the thrilling beat of "The Archers' Bows Have Broken"? I could go on, but really, just take those mental images of loud sighs of relief and echoed choruses I've already described, and add depictions of people singing along to guitar lines when no lyrics are present, take those and you can attach them to any and all moments in the songs played tonight, because the crowd seems that dedicated.

And then, it's time for "Jude Law And A Semester Abroad" and "Seventy Times Seven". Classic tracks, from the very first album, which logically, only the most die hard fans should know, while in reality, they have as many people jumping up and down as the trio of "Deja Entendu" songs. If by now, you feel a bit breathless from reading about the show so far, then (I am a pretty awesome writer, no?) that is fitting, because that's how I feel describing it, and that's how I feel during the performance of those songs at the show. Yet still, the last thing on earth I want, is for it to end, so when it does, after haunting depictions of "At The Bottom" and "Play Crack The Sky", it is with a mixed feeling of both exhaustion and regret. I haven't been timing things, but Brand New have been ruining vocal cords of both themselves and their audience for the better part of two hours, and still, there's so much more they could've played. "Soco Amaretto Lime"? "Mixtape"? "Me Vs. Maradona Vs. Elvis"? Hell, any and all songs off "Deja Entendu" really? This can't at all instill a feeling of disappointment though, not in this fanboy, oh no, he is as satisfied as if he had just been served a sandwich by a scarcely dressed playmate of the year. But then, to me I guess Brand New are always going to be a 10 show, yet to remain as objective as I can, I have to admit there was still something missing - that being the something that makes an extremely well played and well received rock show transcend its own borders and become an experience that is truly legendary - maybe like when an old writer of ours saw this Brand New show (how did this not get a 10 Dan?). Anyway, I'll stop ranting now, Brand New were fantastic, worth every penny of a ticket to England, highly recommendable to anyone with a heart for emotive music and this fanboy enjoyed several eargasms pr. song when he saw them. Be sad if you missed this:


1. Welcome To Bangkok

2. Sink

3. Degausser

4. You Won't Know

5. Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don't

6. Sic Transit Gloria... Glory Fades

7. The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows

8. Limousine

9. Vices

10. Gasoline

11. Sowing Season

12. You Stole

13. The Archers' Bows Have Broken

14. Jesus

15. Jude Law And A Semester Abroad

16. Seventy Times Seven

17. At The Bottom

18. Play Crack The Sky

All photos courtesy of Benji Walker @ Live and Loud

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