Brand New supported by Dinosaur Pile-Up in Gorilla, Manchester.
Brand New have been dear to my heart since Christmas 2010: a friend of mine at the time randomly rang me and sung an acoustic cover of ‘The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot’ to me and his grandma. I instantly fell in love with the song - it sounded so delicately simple, so morbidly bleak, and so painfully raw, yet coated in a tone of hope. It was everything I loved about art. I slowly but surely warmed to the album it belonged to - Deja Entendu - until I was obsessed with it, listening to it in whatever mood I was in. The album will forever remain to be the soundtrack to my Autumns and Winters. Inevitably I came to adore Your Favorite Weapon, The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me, and Daisy, each at different times over the coming years, and appreciated the evolution the band had undergone between their first and most recent album. The more I listened to Brand New, (which was far too much according to my LastFM), the more I pined to see them perform live. I half expected the atmosphere of their live gig to be some sort of cathartic experience, likely causing me to cry, potentially causing me to faint, and hopefully causing Jesse to take me in his arms and give me mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
It all began when the band came to England in 2011 – I was 15, not entirely desperate to see them, and afraid to go to the gig alone because I didn’t know any other fans. Frankly, I didn’t even attempt to buy tickets, which was my mistake because little did I know it would be a huge hassle to get tickets in the future. They next retuned after my love for them matured, in 2013 for Reading Festival, and I somehow managed to convince Chloe (a non-fan, best friend) to go with me, but the band bailed just weeks before the festival. Typical. Some time after this I acquired my lovely friend Tom, with whom our friendship grew over our mutual appreciation for Brand New – I finally had a fellow fan to go to their future gigs with! Fast-forward slightly to January 2014 when the band announced that they were going to return after their 3-year absence from the UK, and play in moderately small venues. Tom was travelling the world at this point so I had his blessing to see the band without him, so I managed to rope Ollie into taking Tom’s place. We attempted to buy London tickets but (of course) they had sold out before we were able to snag some. This is also when I realised that Brand New had a bigger, and more loyal fan base than I had expected, which terrified me with the fear that I would never see them live. With that in mind, in a moment of sheer panicked adrenaline, we bought tickets for the Southampton date only to realise (after paying) that Ollie and I would be on a flight back from Berlin on the day of the gig. After the whole palaver, Tom and I made a pact to see them together the next time they released tour dates, with the hope that neither of us would be abroad.
Finally, we reach 2015. Brand New had sneakily revealed that they were going to release tour tickets for June in intimate venues littered across the UK; Tom and I were going to attempt buying tickets for the Manchester and London venues. Leading up the ticket release (9am April 10th), Tom and I began bordering insanity; all we could talk about was how much we loved the band and how we could strategically buy tickets. We signed up to all participating ticket websites the night before so we wouldn't be thrown by registration at the checkouts, we preset our card details, we woke up an hour prior to the ticket release, we did everything. Oh and kudos to Tom who was in Spain for this and had to figure out time differences and disrupt his holiday-ing so we had better odds at getting tickets. At 9:01am the tickets had sold out. After 20 minutes of refreshing, SeeTickets had a delayed update with fifty, maybe a hundred tickets that appeared and left me at the click of ‘pay now’. I begrudgingly stared at posts on the SeeTickets comments section from lucky people who had managed to buy a returned ticket on the Booklyn Bowl website – an hour later and I was still hopelessly refreshing; Tom had frustratingly gone back to bed, both of us in vile, bitter moods for the rest of the day. Overnight the band quietly announced that they were going to tour large arenas across the UK in September. This led to another frantic few hours between myself and Tom trying to plan which venues we would tackle, how, and when. Sadly, due to travelling and university we decided to split up to see them: Tom in Dublin, and I in London. We were both able buy tickets with ease the next day. It was a relieving end to an era, dampened slightly by the sad realisation that I wouldn't get to see one of my favourite bands with one of my best of friends.
Skipping to the end of May, I distinctly remember lying in bed, drunk, and receiving erratic texts from Tom telling me that the Manchester gig was to be moved to a different, equally intimate venue due to oversold tickets. To justify the move, extra tickets for the new location were being released the next morning; Tom was asking if I wanted to go. I know that had I been sober I may have declined the offer because I already had tickets to see the band in September, and realistically there was no way I would be able to travel from Cornwall to Manchester for cheap on a two weeks notice... but despite this, drunk me said yes. Thank you, drunk me. Then there I was, awake again at 8am, waiting for Brand New tickets. Deja vu. This time was as easy as the last, and I don't know why because they probably only had around 50 or less tickets for sale. By 9:05am we had acquired tickets for an intimate gig that we could go to together, yet still had tickets for an arena gig later in the year. We had made it.
Now the gig itself, as strange as it feels to say, was both good and bad. I'll begin with the bad, which, just to clarify, had nothing to do with the band. I already knew for a fact that Brand New are the type of band to play their music differently live, to jazz up their setlists, and to be unconventional (i.e. perform at a bowling alley). This all contributes towards making every gig they preform a special and unique experience for both the band and the crowd. I fully embraced this; I was prepared for different (I know that some of their fans aren’t). Now, every gig has 3 main components: the band, the venue, and the crowd. As I have explained, there was nothing the band could have done, other than bail again, to ruin my experience of the gig. And I have been to enough gig venues in London to not even bother moaning about how venues contribute towards an overall gig experience - I have basically grown to ignore venues unless they’re particularly fabulous (e.g. Koko, I love you). My complaints are therefore not directed towards Brand New or Gorilla, but the crowd. I’ll attempt to explain this the best I can, but in my experience of gigging I have found that awful sound quality at a venue is tolerable as long as the crowd sing passionately loudly, or at least move/thrash about to distract the atmosphere from the bad sound. Gorilla, like most small venues, had absolutely atrocious sound quality, which could only be excused for overcompensating for the size of the venue. You could barely hear a word Jesse said or sung; at one point, he told a joke to the crowd and was met with a deafening silence because nobody heard what he had said. I was at the stage at this point, and remember hearing him say ‘this is a tough crowd’, followed by him laughing awkwardly. But, as I’ve already said, I would not have cared about the bad sound quality as much had the crowd actually acted like the diehard fans I knew they were. Rather than distracting from the awful sound quality, the mostly despondent crowd made it painfully obvious. It was so unnerving to be amongst a crowd that didn’t act like true/typical Brand New fans - the couple next to me (also at the stage) just stood completely still during the climax of ‘My Tommy Gun Don’t’. How?! I knew it wasn’t right. My thoughts were confirmed by a couple on a Megabus from London to Plymouth, who told me the London gig was insane. Damn you, Manchester.
Despite this, I must remind you that this was in no way a terrible gig. I loved it, I truly did. Once I was at the stage (there are no guards barring the stage from the crowd at Gorilla), I didn't need good sound or a good crowd because I was a meter or less away from Jesse and Vincent, thus close enough to audibly hear their actual voices and to forget that anyone else in the room existed. At the end of the gig the crowd definitely redeemed itself after the demand for ‘Moshi Moshi’ was met, because everyone sung loudly when it was played. It was incredible – if only the crowd had the same enthusiasm for The Devil and God, and Daisy songs. The band finished with ‘Socco Amaretto Lime’, which I think was my favourite song of the gig – we repetitively sung ‘you're just jealous 'cause we're young and in love’ whilst Jesse sung over us. Beautiful. The setlist itself was near perfection; the band opened with their brand new (hehe) song, ‘Mene’, and then threw in a couple of songs from every album, and cheeky ones like ‘Brothers’ (from Fight Off Your Demons) and, of course, ‘Moshi Moshi’.
I'm glad the band were everything I hoped they would be, even though the crowd was not, and I'm still in awe that I was able to experience the entire thing standing by the stage! Ally Pally couldn't come sooner.
P.S thank you to Paloma, Chloe, and Ollie for putting up with all Brand New related crap that Tom and I put you through.