Tales from the Tour: Brand New

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, March 16th, 2016 at 9:06 PM
Tales from the Tour: Brand New by Dakota Palmer

It was summer 2015. Andy Hull of Manchester Orchestra had just left the crowd silently stunned with his soft vocals on their song “Cope.” Now, all we had to do was patiently wait and gaze at the breathtaking view of the Tower City Center building from across the Cuyahoga River.

Five thousand of us sat in those uncomfortable, cold, metal bleacher seats at Jacob’s Pavilion at Nautica in Cleveland anxiously waiting for one thing. Brand New.

Finally, after what seemed like years of mic checks and broad-shouldered men dragging instruments across the stage, my four heroes walked out onto the stage. Brian Lane, Garrett Tierney, Vin Accardi, and most importantly, Jesse Lacey, were all breathing the same air as me for the third time.

The lights came up and immediately the band began the opening chords to their newest song “Mene.” Lacey delivered the lyrics in his typically rough, passionate voice that has the ability to make his audiences simultaneously happy, angry and sad. Five thousand people sang along to this new song that had increased hope in Brand New’s listeners that a new album was coming soon.

As I sat and listened to Lacey sing, “What sings to you when you disconnect?” I truly thought about the question as if he and I were the only people in the room. The crowd around me started to fade out and I thought of what I do when I disconnect: listen to Brand New.

Once upon a time, I took guitar lessons from a young, hip guy who always taught me how to play the coolest alternative songs with great riffs. The first time I ever heard of Brand New was around 2006 when my teacher gave me the tablature for “The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows,” a song off of Brand New’s sophomore album “Deja Entendu.”

This song instantly became my favorite to play and listen to. The lyrics were loud and meaningful, although they didn’t really make any sense to 11-year-old me at the time. I instantly knew I had to listen to more of this beautiful band.

So I did just that. I alternated listening to “Your Favorite Weapon,” the band’s first album, and “Deja Entendu” for days on end. During the day, I was a bashful kid at a Catholic grade school, but at night I became the most punk version of myself while I angrily screamed the lyrics to “Seventy Times Seven,” arguably Brand New’s cornerstone song.

As I mentioned before, this was my third time seeing Brand New. The first time was in 2011 and I convinced my dad to drive all the way to Atlantic City to see them at the House of Blues. How I got my dad to agree to this, I have no idea, but I like to think I created another Brand New fan that night.

Because of this show, my dad and I will occasionally aimlessly drive around and talk about our lives. Sometimes that talking turns into us yelling the lyrics to “Jude Law and a Semester Abroad.” Not that my dad wasn’t awesome before, but his Brand New lyrical knowledge makes him about 10 times cooler.

The second time we saw them was in Pittsburgh in 2014. Though I was disappointed Brand New had played less songs than the first time I saw them, I still appreciated being in their presence. A lot of people ask me why I go to so many concerts when I can just listen to the album over and over again. Hearing the music being played in front of you, with the emotion that Jesse Lacey puts into his vocals, is that reason. I have never heard a more broken man sing with such passion in the 20 years I’ve been alive.

Lacey sings of a variety of subjects: heartbreak, death, faith and other things that I don’t always understand. But I can almost guarantee that every person can find at least one Brand New song they can relate to. I have a song for nearly every mood and every large situation that’s happened in my life.

“You Won’t Know” got me through my parents’ divorce, “The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot” got me through the one time I lost my high school election for vice president, “Failure By Design” got me through all of the late night research papers and “Gasoline” got me through all of the conflicts I had with friends.

When I was sitting by the river in 2015 and the band started to play “Seventy Times Seven,” I stood up and danced like a fool along with everyone near me. I danced and began to ferociously sing with Lacey, “Back in school they never taught us what we needed to know/ Like how to deal with despair or someone breaking your heart!” I watched the crowd in awe as we all screamed the lyrics “I’ve seen more spine in jellyfish/I’ve seen more guts in 11-year-old kids.”

While the band was playing their second-to-last song of the set, “Play Crack the Sky,” a giant boat passed by on the river and it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever experienced. That boat took about six minutes to get under the bridge on the other side of the amphitheater, and for some reason it just made sense that it happened during that song. This huge boat, slowly trying to fit under this tiny bridge, while this band was playing a song about — a boat crash. We all watched the boat with tears in our eyes and sang the great lyric “You know that you are not alone/Need you like water in my lungs.”

The magical thing about Brand New is that every single one of their crowds becomes a family the night of a concert. This group of people, who will never all be in the same place together again, formed one body that put aside everything that made us all different — race, gender and where we were from — to enjoy Brand New. I sang along, mostly out of tune, to Brand New’s best songs with the united body we formed that night. My terrible singing voice didn’t matter to anyone around me. All that mattered was that everyone that night was seeing their favorite band and would never be the same.

Dakota Palmer is the Online Editor for The Spectator.

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