Whether you love a band or haven’t heard them before it’s usually pretty easy to sit back and enjoy yourself when you go to see a live show. I’ve never been to a show where the singer sounded terrible (maybe missed a few notes here and there, sure, but not cats in the alley type stuff) and I’ve never been to a show where the music sounded really bad – and I’m even including all the times I went to see Mark and the multitude of local bands that they played with. Sure, there have been moments when it hasn’t really been my thing, or when I thought the band was just obnoxious (All Time Low) but it wasn’t enough to really take me out of the experience.
That wasn’t the case this last Wednesday night. The sound was really good, the music was well played – but the show was TERRIBLE. And you know why? There was no energy. There has only been ONE time prior to this where I absolutely didn’t have a good time. That was for the same reason and it was Built to Spill. I loved their music but they came onstage and stood there. Even Mogwai, a band who doesn’t normally sing, managed to put on an amazing show and fill the room with energy.
This last show was torturous. It was Brand New (if you hadn’t guessed that from the title) and they were headlining with mewithoutyou and Thrice. Now, mewithoutyou was just completely not my bag – they were hairy and weird and looked like they were on something. One thing I learned at this show – I like my music to be music. I don’t want it to be art. I don’t want to have to try too hard to understand it. I want to go have a good time and escape from everything and bob my head. I don’t want you to sing to the back of the stage, and I don’t want you to play the accordion and look like your tripping. Musically I think some of their stuff could be good but I just couldn’t deal with the “performance”.
Again, Thrice was good.Their music didn’t bother me at all. If anything, they at least had the energy for a minute. Their set, though, was TOO LONG. If I wanted to see Thrice I would go to a Thrice show. I wanted to see Brand New and I wasn’t expecting a double-bill. I think I’ve been spoiled going to shows where there are 4 or 5 bands on the bill – if I don’t like something I don’t have to endure it for too long.
Finally, Brand New came on stage and I was ready to go. So was the rest of the crowd. The energy in the room for the first couple of songs was great. But then everything started to look the same, the lead singer didn’t move, the guitarists looked like they were glued to the floor – and I thought they were gearing up to play the whole new album. That’s when the bottom fell out.
Just for context, let me say that I do not like the new album as much as their first album. Your Favourite Weapon was great – every song. The newest album was a complete departure from any of that. When I first listened to it, a song would start and it would sound for an instance like it was gearing up to finally kick in but then it just never did.
So, back at the show we’ve gone through a handful of new songs by now. Then the acoustic guitars came out for the obligatory band break. Then they stayed out. By then, I realized that he had just played about 4 acoustic songs. The crowd was dead – just standing there. I could hear the conversations at the bar more than I could hear him singing. Someone started to yell from the back of the room, “Play something loud!” It was ridiculous. The band came back on stage and it looked like they were going to start playing again – but then HE PUT THE DAMN ACOUSTIC BACK ON!
That’s when we left. It was an hour into their set and he was on stage mumbling the whole time we were leaving and you couldn’t understand a word he said. This is a band who has sold out every show they’ve played at HOB here in Cleveland. This was the second night of two sold out shows. My guess? Fifty percent of the people in that room will never go to see Brand New again. I’m one of them. I left pissed off. I felt like I had been trapped into listening to their latest experiment. They had their own agenda that evening – and it was not to play a show for their fans. They were playing at us and that made it even worse.
And by the time we left, we hadn’t heard a single thing from YFW. So, depending on which version of Brand New you like you may want to avoid them like the plague.