Scribed by: Alexander Couts
photo courtesy of kroq.com
I want to start this off by stating something VERY important: I am about to make some very positive remarks about Brand New, The Front Bottoms, and Modern Baseball, and some very negative remarks about the crowd. With this being said, I want to make it VERY CLEAR that they have absolutely nothing to do with one another, the comments about one should not shine on the other.
With that information in hand, let’s begin.
I had purchased these tickets back in August, and I was over the moon that this tour was a real thing that would be happening, and I would be at in a few short months. I was ecstatic, trying to mentally grasp the euphoric state that being on the floor for three of my favorite bands. I was having dreams about the swelling sounds that would accompany the movement of the crowd, everyone singing the lyrics in unison to every song. I was losing myself over the thoughts of how insane the mosh pits were going to be, repeating to my girlfriend for weeks how unbelievably excited I was to have someone kick me in the teeth to The Archers Bows Have Broken. I was mentally and physically ready for this ethereal experience. These dreams were only further fueled with excitement when Procrastinate! announced that Brand New would be using this tour as a 10 Year for The Devil and God Are Raging Inside of Me, my personal favorite of the Brand New discography, and would be performing it in full at the show.
Getting through the security line and getting to the floor was a relatively quick experience—about the only thing I can commend the venue for. As soon as we were in, we went to floor to be absolutely stunned that only a portion of the floor was filled, maybe only four rows worth of people (and even that’s stretching it). I wasn’t complaining, that meant being at the barricade for all three bands. Shortly after we got there, Modern Baseball started into their set and not a single person moved forward. I was shocked. What is this? This isn’t a MoBo show? Why is no one climbing over one another? Why is no one moving? Where are the crowd surfers? It wasn’t until they closed out with Your Graduation that some people moved about, a little bit. It was the most tame Modern Baseball crowd and show I had ever seen. Last time I had seen them Sean and Jake were on top of the crowd and every person in the room was shouting the words with them, and I left the show drenched in my own and other’s sweat. I felt fresh out of the shower after MoBo’s set.
This being said, Modern Baseball still put on one heck of a set; playing songs from every single full-length they’ve released. They even managed to make the arena show feel a little personal by still telling jokes and laughing through lyrics as they shredded through riffs and harmonized during hooks. Those boys have managed to keep such a wonderful demeanor and attitude through every show I’ve watched them play. Whether it is a small club or an arena, they’re the same goofballs playing heartfelt tunes—even if the crowd didn’t get it. *cough cough* guy behind me who dissed them for laughing while singing.
After MoBo finished up and tore down, The Front Bottoms began to furnish their living room. No, really. While they uncovered their amps and had their technicians do sound checks, the rest of the crew carried a couch, box TV, standing lamps, a nightstand and a few other objects that created a living room scene on the stage. The cherry on top was a showing of an old movie on the TV placed at the side of the stage. This was a house show in an arena, an idea solidified by a friend of the band hanging out on the couch watching them perform. I cannot commend the band enough for curating such a homely feel in such huge place, they truly haven’t lost their roots.
As for their performance and the feel of the crowd during such, it was all very positive. Everyone packed (sort of) together and swayed with the jovial vibes of each song, singing the lyrics together. The Front Bottoms also played a wonderful array of songs from multiple records—even finding time to fit in Joanie, a song they released only a few days prior to the show. THIS is what I went to this show for, and it was about 40 minutes of wonderful positivity in the crowd. A feeling cut short as soon as The Front Bottoms closed out their set and exited the stage.
This is the point in the night where my problems with the crowd began. It wasn’t more than few minutes after the lights came on that a (very drunk) girl of about 23 and smelling of bad B.O shoved her way through my friends and I, sloshing cheap beer on all three of us. Sure, it happens, whatever, but it didn’t help whenever she stopped dead in front of me and threw her head into mine complaining she couldn’t move up farther. As soon as I pushed her off of me she swung back and complained to me, saying something along the lines of “welcome to being at a concert,”. Shortly after this she befriended a sleazy guy next to her and her friends and began to share a cigarette with them, but crouched down to hide it from security—cool, dude. I remember being fifteen also. The only thing that offset the wreak of the BO and smoke was an incense lit on stage that happened to be the same scent as a friend of mine burns in her apartment. It wasn’t long before Brand New took the stage and the crowd (again, sort of) moved together and the show began.
They tore open with I Am A Nightmare and the whole room started bouncing and the pit opened up, I was ecstatic. I started moving with everyone in the semi violent motion that pits tend to have and stopped on and edge for a few moments only to have a girl take my hate off my head and throw it. Seriously? You’re mad people are moving, and you decide to take someone’s belongings from them? Imagine if someone stole your purse (and she did have a purse on her) and threw it? Luckily, my girlfriend happened to catch it and returned it to me.
The band continued moving through song after song. I cannot begin to express the absolutely incredible light display that accompanied the songs. From the huge wash of white and sparks of blue during the “loud” part of Sowing Season, to the intimate single white light shining on Jesse as he played Play Crack The Sky. The intimate experience I shared with a few friends and my girlfriend during this song was cut short by two girls—from earlier—trying to push their way up, only to be rejected by the people in the front row. In frustration one girl threw her arm and can of cheap beer in my face and sloshed the cheap trash on me, again. Being more frustrated this time, I threw her arm back into her and pushed her out of the way. This only resulted in getting to hear her and her friend ramble on about how much they hated being there while trying to listen to and enjoy my favorite band. Despite this poor aspect of the experience, I still continued to enjoy the show. Everything was purposeful and planned and it was all wonderfully presented. I am still stuck trying to decide if the beams of light falling on the front row of the crowd, or the five giant projection screens behind the band were cooler. The beams gave a dreamy swaying feeling to being in the crowd during the songs, but the screens projected eerie images—such as a beating heart beating to the rhythm of Handcuffs, or a monotone video of a couple swaying in a void during Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don’t. Possibly the best aspect of the performance was during the end of Untitled, when the screen flashed recordings of a very young Jesse Lacey and Vinnie Accardi, followed by Jesse thanking the city of Cleveland and Brand New fans in general for the years of support, including a farewell with hint “that there will be a next time,” before the screens held the infamous “Brand New 2000-2018,”.
Brand New, The Front Bottoms, and Modern Baseball performing together:
The people there: