Brand New at Ryman Auditorium

It’s been fourteen years and three days since Brand New released their debut album Your Favorite Weapon. It’s been seven years and twenty days since Brand New released their last album Daisy. There has been quite a long stretch since the band has released a new album, but their fans are still tightly knit to their discography even if they have been touring on Daisy for the past seven years. Are we all hoping that they release a new album ten minutes from now digitally without any forewarning in typical Brand New fashion? Yes. Are we all hoping that they announce a massive tour so that tickets don’t sell out within five hours of the show being announced? Yes. Yet, being fans of Brand New means that things are never guaranteed.

It’s been roughly 20 hours since the band has finished up its last show of 2015 at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. Their emotionally charged hour and a half concert spanning songs throughout their discography was most definitely something to be seen and to be heard. Jesse Lacey opened their set solo playing their newest song off their yet-to-be-released new record, “Sealed to Me”. The song itself feels like something mixed between the Daisy  and The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me sessions. It was a somber, emotional performance that seamlessly transitioned into “Limousine (MS Rebridge). It’s incredible how the band has managed to release four completely different sounding albums and yet craft a set list that flows so well. The slow, subtle build-up shifting into the aggressive shredding solo at the end was the perfect preparation for the hard-hitting “Gasoline” third in the set.

It really is incredible how the band can go from the chilling “Sealed to Me” to the  heavy “Gasoline” in three songs. It was a perfect way to open their last set of 2015. “Millstone” came fourth. The last few times I’ve seen Brand New their stage has been clouded by fog-machine smoke, so clearly seeing Brian Lane and their back-up drummer simultaneously hammering the drums at the end of the song was something really cool to see.

Then the next four songs were for the older fans. The one-two-three punch of Deja Entendu songs started with a sped up version of “Sic Transit Gloria…Glory Fades” with Lacey singing so quickly that it was as if he was rapping the verses. They’ve been performing the song similarly the last few times I’ve seen them and it’s always an interesting spin on the song. They followed with probably their most performed song, “Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don’t”. It obviously turned into an incredibly loud sing-along, because if you know all the words to just one Brand New song, it’s this one.

The next two songs featured similar themes, with the sad “The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot” and the angst-ridden “Mix Tape”, both of which scream emotional  situations between boy and girl. “Mix Tape” has been more prominent on set lists in the past year or so as it seems to have been switched in for “Seventy Times 7”, the latter of which has been absent from a majority of their set lists over the last year. Personally, I think it’s been a nice change of pace.

The last half of the set drifted back toward their newer material, starting with “At The Bottom” which included Lacey getting incredibly excited about the song and knocking his mic stand over. He quickly ran over and performed the rest of the song’s bridge on Vinnie Accardi’s mic while they set his stand back up. I think what really moves me about seeing Brand New play is the amount of feeling they put into performing. Lacey jumping up and down to “At The Bottom”, dancing during “Sic Transit Gloria…Glory Fades” and just exerting all of his energy during their whole set is a sight to see. It’s amazing to see a band seem like they enjoy performing so much. Their third song off of Daisy, “You Stole”, featured the same energy. Accardi’s ripping guitar and Lane’s harsh smashing drums created a gripping performance.

The end of the night consisted of a The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me filled set. “Luca” followed and the part at the bridge where the band turns the song from a slow, moving spectacle to a harsh, gritty avalanche of sound was one of the best parts of their performance. The entire auditorium was silent up until right where it kicked in creating an incredible dramatic effect.

The band closed their set with the almost standard coupling of “You Won’t Know” and “Degausser”. “You Won’t Know” started with an extended intro almost meant to tease the audience, and then its fast, melodic middle got everyone back on their feet. There’s something about seeing the band live that makes you feel like you’re seeing the true versions of the their songs, like the slight changes in tempo at times and the complete reworking of some parts, such as the aggressive closing they do during “You Won’t Know”.  It makes the cross into “Degausser” perfect.

Brand New have this way of leaving you emotionally exhausted at their end of one of their sets, and I think the speech that Lacey made before their encore is one of the more iconic moments in the band’s history. It was rare to see the almost enigmatic front-man make his was to the front of the stage without a guitar or the intention to sing, but to speak to the audience. It’s small moments like this that really capture how Brand New feels about what they’ve been doing for the past 15 years. Lacey poured his heart out on the stage, thanking everyone involved with the band, from frequent tour-mates Kevin Devine and Manchester Orchestra, to the entire crew that helps the band perform, to his three band-mates for not only helping him get to where they are now, but for his life. And it’s a moment like this, seeing Lacey completely honest, breaking down on stage and watching his friends run to his side to hug and be there for him during his heartbreaking speech, that captures just how much the members of Brand New love each other and their fans. He mentioned a new album, and also that the band wasn’t going to last much longer and you could truly feel the entire audience’s hearts bloom and burst in that one moment.

Lacey started the encore with a moving performance of “Play Crack The Sky” featuring both Andy Hull and Kevin Devine on back-up vocals, which was one of the most memorable parts of the night. The song itself was almost a reiteration of his previous emotional speech. He continued and devoted the next song “Jesus” to his wife and daughter. As always, it was a chilling performance. The set closed with “Sowing Season” which draws from both the slow, solemn  side of band and the intense, angry side of it. The screams of ” I am not your friend // I am just a man who knows how to feel” were etched into everyone in the audience as the band drew its set to an end.

It’s an incredibly sad feeling at the end of every Brand New show I’ve seen throughout the last three years that this show could be the last time I see the band. And I guess the band has been on the verge of calling it quits for past 9 or 10 years, ever since the Fight Off Your Demons demo leak shook them, but it’s hard to feel like something you’re so attached to just come to an end. It’s even more heartbreaking to see a speech like last night’s and really feel how much love they have for their friends and their band-mates and their fans and their families. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be the one who decides it’s time to call it quits, to say, “We’re done.” The day Brand New is done will be devastating to an entire generation of fans that grew up with their music, and it’s incredible shows like last night that make me believe that that day is coming soon.

-CM

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