Brand New hadn’t paid us a visit in years, so this could have gone one of two ways: Either fans could have burned on the Long Islanders, who haven’t released a record since 2009, or have been dying to see them.
They went with option 2.
The show sold out in a heartbeat and could have moved outdoors at Stage AE, but the band wanted to play inside. It was packed, almost dangerously so, as fans pushed to the front soon after the opening set by Man Man.
When the lights went out, the soundman heightened the anticipation by spinning, of all things, “Please Don’t Keep Me Waiting” by one Olivia Newton-John.
When it comes to charismatic frontmen, Brand New’s Jesse Lacey is nowhere in the conversation. He doesn’t run around the stage throwing his fists in the air. He doesn’t entice people to raise their hands or sing along (but they do anyway). In fact, he makes minimal rock gestures, keeping his head down and forging ahead with the songs.
The love affair is with the rugged romanticism of his lyrics, dealing with love and death with a depth and detail beyond the typical emo/screamo singer; his whisper-to-scream explosiveness; and the band’s own rushing dynamic. Brand New re-introduced itself with “Sink,” Mr. Lacey shrieking, “If you call, then I’m coming to get you!” as the crowd pushed forward and back like one organism.
The four “Daisy” songs, from 2009, that opened the set were well-received, but the sheer frenzy didn’t kick in until Garrett Tierney hit the tense bassline of “Sic Transit Gloria... Glory Fades,” building to the raw outburst one minute in. That’s when the female voices soared into a gorgeous chorus, mosh pits erupted and some decided to head for higher ground, thinning out the floor.
We got shortchanged on the “Deja Entendu” songs as they only did three — adding “I Will Play My Game Beneath the Spin Light” and the breathtaking “Okay I Believe You, but My Tommy Gun Don’t” — as opposed to the five they’ve been doing on the tour.
“Seventy Times 7” was the one early blast of pop-punk and the dark “Sowing Season” was a quiet-to-loud wonder. The latter part of the 90-minute set found Mr. Lacey turning mostly inward and sullen, calming the mob with the moodier “Millstone” and “Limousine (MS Rebridge)” along with the slow-burning “You Won’t Know” intertwined with “Louie Louie.”
A solo “Soco Amaretto Lime,” with the refrain of “You’re just jealous cause we’re young and in love,” ended a show that, ironically, did not contain a single thing that was brand new. Just the fact that the band is out there, though, hints that something good could be on the way.
Philly’s Man Man, led by the flamboyant Honus Honus, was an inspired opener, combining percussive, piano-pounding pop with a touch of Zappa avant-garde.
Scott Mervis: firstname.lastname@example.org; 412-263-2576. First Published July 11, 2014 12:00 AM