The stories of Brand New’s early concerts are legendary. The mystery and level of respect circulated around Brand New is due in part to the intensity of its devoted fans, who show out in droves from all over the country to rage to music specially engineered for feral performances.
Still, one might not believe the intense concert experiences of yore could be sustained in such a big, open-air amphitheater as the Greek Theatre.
The die hard fans who sold out Brand New’s show Thursday night seemed adequately prepared for the madness, though. As one fan knowingly informed his friends pre-show, “We’re going to be tossed around every which way by this mob. I’m not too concerned where I’m standing right now.”
Lead singer Jesse Lacey entered alone to the shrieking of those close enough to make out his lone silhouette swathed in the soupy darkness of the stage. Then spotlights of soft, luminescent orange flicked on, all trained on his unassuming figure. He looked down at his guitar like he had forgotten it altogether and began playing “Sealed to Me” solo.
As if on cue, the crowd rippled this way and that. Intense waves of energy crashed along, with people pushed to their knees by the sheer force of their peers.
It wasn’t long before the rest of the band filed in and took their positions to begin their set. The effect their presence had on the crowd was unreal.
Bodies smashed against each other. People were tossed every which way by kinetic, unfiltered motion inspired by the band. Mosh pits — real, violent, unashamed mosh pits, not the watered down self-indulgent attempts we’re used to nowadays — popped up everywhere, speckled throughout the standing crowd. More people wanted to jump up and crowd surf than there were members of the crowd to support them.
More than half of the songs Brand New performed came off its wildly popular third album, The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me. New singles “I Am a Nightmare” and “Sealed to Me” off Brand New’s highly anticipated upcoming album received a great deal of fanfare, as did set-closer “You Won’t Know,” which, without question, was the most ferociously well-executed song of the night.
The band played its most painful songs without remorse. A two-man drum line including drummer Brian Lane smashed the drums like they wanted to break them. Guitarist Vincent Accardi physically slammed into the ground with his sadistically convulsive strumming.
Brand New’s energy carried over. After a riotous performance of “Vices” that shook the very foundation of the Greek, a man in the standing crowd could be heard asking other crowd members to help him look for his freshly lost shoe. After a particularly electrifying performance of “Degausser,” one inspired woman clambered onto the stage, only to be tackled by security. The crowd roared, and as she was hoisted offstage, she had time to stick her tongue out and throw up a rock-on hand signal.
Brand New has cultivated a fanbase of warm, unabashedly welcoming people from incredibly different places in life. Old diehard emos with nine-to-fives and tax returns and hardcore yet innocuous geeks alike held up real lighters for emotional apexes. Wafts of vape smoke curled above the crowd, smelling of dry herbs and burnt popcorn.
Brand New occupies a very interesting space in pop culture. It may not have cast a wide net at its peak, but those that count themselves as Brand New fans often consider it their unquestionable favorite. It’s not hard to understand how that happened — between Lacey’s raw, down-to-earth lyric poetry and Accardi’s tough yet sophisticated musicality, Brand New’s effect is both devastating and long lasting.
It’s a shame, then, that such a well-loved band could have such an impending expiration date. Rumors have circulated — perpetuated by Brand New itself — that the band will be breaking up in 2018. Indeed, at the end of the show, instead of entertaining an encore, the stage was lit with a projection of the text “Brand New: 2000-2018” accompanied by upside down crosses.
Thursday’s performance felt like one of many stops on Brand New’s brutal journey to terminus. One can only hope that ravenous fans will get enough before the end.