LIVE REVIEW: Brand New @ Starland Ballroom

brand new starland

To some extent, I’ve always thought that Brand New was just a tad overrated. Sure, they put out two of my favorite records of all time and I love just about all of their output as a band, but there’s something odd about the way that their fans fawn over them unconditionally despite years of relative inactivity and 2009’s extremely polarizing Daisy. Naturally, when the band uncharacteristically announced a a short tour in which they’d play their whole discography over two shows on each coast, their near-religious following made it just short of impossible to get tickets. After failing to get tickets twice, I managed to score a ticket to last night’s Starland Ballroom date from a friend, and seeing the band at their best is easily one of the best shows I’ve ever been lucky enough to attend.

After a lively and well-received set from Jersey-natives The Front Bottoms, Brand New quietly took the stage and exploded into “The Shower Scene” without a word, kicking off a set of Your Favorite Weapon in its entirety. The band seemed genuinely excited to be there, jumping around the stage and even joking with the crowd in between songs. The band played the album in order only stopping to tune, but singer/guitarist Jesse Lacey talked to the crowd throughout the set about Your Favorite Weapon and some of the experiences they had while writing the record. Amongst conversation, he revealed that John Nolan of Taking Back Sunday wrote “Magazines” and “The No Seatbelt Song” because they needed two more songs to put the record out.

The performance was faithful to the record, with a few deviations that made for a far more personal experience. For instance, a new take on the bridge of “Seventy Times Seven” kept all of the grit of the original while catering more toward a live crowd. After a heartbreaking performance of “Soco Amaretto Lime” (which ended with Jesse singing “I’m just jealous ’cause you’re young and in love”), the band returned to the stage and prepared to play the promised B-sides from the Your Favorite Weapon era. Jesse joked about playing Daisy next instead of Déjà Entendu and mentioned how when they played the controversial record the night before in Long Island, “everyone whined.” The crowd gave an uproar of support, to which Jesse laughed and responded that Daisy “is hard to get through anyway.” This kind of banter is rare from Brand New, and only added to the already unusual full-album sets to make for a unique concert experience.

While Your Favorite Weapon was a crowd pleaser, Déjà Entendu was a far more refined performance. The second drum set came out and Jesse began to softly play the iconic opening riff to “Tautou.” The riff continued on repeat while the crowd screamed “I’m sinking like a stone in the sea,” and the sound of two drum sets coming out of Starland Ballroom’s recently renovated PA system created one of the more powerful moments in live music that I’ve ever experienced. The band played through all of Déjà Entendu, albeit messing up the track listing by playing “Jaws Theme Swimming” after “The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows,” followed by “The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot” after realizing the mistake. This was the highlight of the night. Looking around during “Me vs. Maradona vs. Elvis,” it was easy to tell that the crowd was in disbelief over the setlist. The performance got chaotic during “Good to Know…” which concluded in a full minute of unintelligible distortion and feedback as the band walked off stage.

As Jesse Lacey finished the night with a performance of “Play Crack The Sky,” I truly understood why Brand New is so loved by their fans. The band poured their hearts and souls into every minute of the performance, despite the fact that the band has been playing all of these songs for ten years or more. The fan service and determination to make it as memorable as possible shined through during every minute of their set, making it an unforgettable experience.

Brand New setlist:

The Shower Scene
Jude Law and a Semester Abroad
Sudden Death In Carolina
Mix Tape
Failure By Design
Last Chance To Lose Your Keys
Logan To Government Center
The No Seatbelt Song
Seventy Times Seven
Soco Amaretto Lime
My Nine Rides Shotgun
Moshi Moshi
Flying At Tree Level
Sic Transit Gloria…Glory Fades
I Will Play My Game Beneath The Spin Light
Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don’t
The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows
Jaws Theme Swimming
The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot
Me Vs. Maradona Vs. Elvis
Good To Know That If I Ever Needed Attention All I Have To Do Is Die
Play Crack The Sky

The Front Bottoms Setlist:

Tattooed Tears
Swimming Pool
Au Revior (Adios)
The Beers
Twin Sized Mattress


Review written by: John Bazley
Make sure to check out Nina Corcoran’s review of Brand New’s performance in Long Island here.

John Bazley

John Bazley was raised in central New Jersey by the romantic aura of the Asbury Park beachfront, punk rock, and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4. He is still trying to figure all of this stuff out.

In addition to UTG, John has contributed to Alternative Press and Full Frequency Media. Follow him on Twitter for pictures of his dog.
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