REVIEW: Brand New at Summerfest – 7/4

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Photo courtesy of Summerfest

Going into Summerfest, one of the most talked about ground stage shows was Brand New’s appearance at the Harley Davidson Roadhouse on the 4th of July. The crowd was buzzing on the bleachers, and shortly after 10 PM, they were welcomed by… 80s dance music. A bit of a curveball from Brand New, but definitely an entertaining one. Then, with no introduction, Jesse Lacey and company wandered their way onto the stage, very unceremoniously, tuning their guitars and checking sound levels before going right into the first song. This set the tone for the night, it seems, as Brand New made the most of their time on the Summerfest stage.

The opening four songs, from various releases throughout their almost 15 years as a band, sort of diminished a good chunk of the buzz for the show. These songs took up roughly the first 20 minutes of the set, and it seemed that at this pace, the crowd was in for a long night of all of the high school-esque emo feels. However, things picked up with “The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows”, a much needed shot in the arm for the crowd and band alike. From then on, things picked up for Brand New. Sing alongs ensued to Deja Entendu standouts “Sic Transit Gloria… Glory Fades” and “Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don’t”, keeping the crowd as into the show as they could be. At this point, they also picked up their power as they went on, each song hitting just a bit harder than the last. However, something just seemed off about the band that has been sporadically working on new music since “Daisy” was released in 2011. To put it frankly, the most accurate lyrics for the night were “This is so messed up.”

The band, which remained backlit the entire night, did very little to try to interact with the crowd. Lacey didn’t deviate from his lyrics until several songs in, when he said “Hi. We’re called Brand New. We’re from New York.”, and not much else. There was also two short quips about avoiding the Alice Cooper jokes from Wayne’s World, and mentioning the motorcycles that decorate the back of the Harley Davidson Roadhouse. These small asides didn’t come until later in the set as well, suggesting that Brand New had trouble opening up to an enthusiastic crowd, much like their songs at times.

The night did hit another lull towards the end of the set, which culminated in a dragged out version of “Degausser” that clocked in at over 10 minutes long. At times, the song quieted to the point that the crowd could hear a much different scene at the Timeflies show on the neighboring Miller Lite Oasis stage. In addition to the crowd, guitarist Vin Accardi briefly looked over at the smoke machine filled commotion next door. Towards the end of the song, Accardi was seen putting his guitar up to the amp, and later walking offstage before the show was completely over. While that sounds bad, a number of things could have happened. In any case, it was an awkward part of the ending of the show, which did not have an encore.

All things considered, Brand New delivered for their fans on Friday night. They are known for their brand of emo, with a mix of some up-tempo to keep fans bouncing and singing along. While at times it seemed a bit off-putting, the band did provide the crowd with an entertaining show, albeit there were some hiccups along the way. Hopefully they will be back soon, with new material, and even more purpose to their set.

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