Brand New lit up Kings Theatre with Nada Surf (pics, review, setlists)
It took eight long years but Brand New finally released their fifth album, Science Fiction, this past August. And it wasn't a rehash of any past Brand New album, it was a step forward for the band. On Thursday night (10/19), the New York band played their first hometown area show since the album's release, at Brooklyn's Kings Theatre.
I've seen some truly incredible Brand New shows (including headlining MSG last year), but the Kings Theatre show was easily the best I've ever seen them. With new songs to finally play, a new and absolutely killer light show, and Kevin Devine as a full-time touring member, Brand New looked and sounded rejuvenated, like this was the start of a new era, not the end of one. They also said on stage that Kings Theatre was the most beautiful venue they've ever played.
They opened the show the same way the new album opens, with "Lit Me Up." As the stage was still dark, the spoken word intro of the song started playing over the PA. Then the band came in and the light show slowly began taking shape. Brand New began the show with a cage in front of the stage, so the lights and projections were both in front of the band and behind them, making the show even more vivid and mesmerizing than a Brand New show usually is. The cage lifted up halfway through the third song ("Out of Mana"), and while obscuring the band's appearance made for a cool effect, finally revealing their faces was cathartic as well. But not as cathartic as the songs themselves. On their past three albums, and even on parts of Deja Entendu, Brand New perfected a mix of music that's both highbrow and cerebral but also visceral and liberating, and that comes across even more so live than on record. On Daisy songs "Gasoline" and "At the Bottom" they neared metal territory, on Science Fiction songs "In the Water" and "Same Logic/Teeth" they were genuinely psychedelic, and on the extended passages of Devil and God songs "You Won't Know" and "Sowing Season" they flirted with prog, but even while toying with all of those various sounds, they remained the same singalong-inducing band that they were on the more straightforward earlier cuts like "Okay I Believe You, but My Tommy Gun Don't" and "Sic Transit Gloria... Glory Fades." (As always, "Okay I Believe You" remains one of the loudest singalongs you'll experience at any rock concert.)
The new songs especially sound great, and Brand New seem really excited to play them. They kept stage banter to a minimum, but just from watching them it was clear how refreshing it must have felt to run through the guitar freakouts of "137" or the pummeling rhythms of "451." For the past few years now, they've been loosening up some of the older songs to have a more freeform spirit. The Science Fiction songs were written that way from the start. And it's really a noticeable plus having Kevin Devine in the band. The three-guitar attack was massive, and the band's vocal harmonies sounded richer than they ever have in a live show environment.
For this tour, they've been ending the set with Devil and God opener "Sowing Season" (they had usually been ending their sets with "You Won't Know" the past few years), and that's really a massive song to go out on. They now work in an extended jam at the end of the song and all band members really let their freak flags fly, and a little double meaning is added to the repeated "It's coming to an end!" that closes the song. The cage dropped back down during that song, ending the pre-encore set with the same obscured visuals that it began with. For an encore, Jesse Lacey came out on his own and did just one song, Your Favorite Weapon's forever-teenage acoustic closer "Soco Amaretto Lime" (the only song off YFW during the set). I could've watched them go for another hour, but "Soco Amaretto Lime" was a great epilogue for the show. It was a welcome callback to their early era, and hearing Jesse turn the lyrics back on the crowd at the end and sing "I'm just jealous 'cause you're young and in love" really added some perspective to how far they've come.
Jesse spoke towards the end of the set about how honored he was to have Nada Surf open the show, and he said that they were the band who showed him it was possible to reinvent yourself over and over again. Nada Surf and Brand New really do have a lot in common in that department; both bands have indeed spent the bulk of their careers reinventing themselves, even though many people forever associate them with the sound they debuted with. (In Nada Surf's case it's their fluke '90s hit "Popular," which Matthew Caws introduced by saying "It might be the only song of ours that you know... or maybe you don't know it at all.") Nada Surf sounded really tight and they made for a nice precursor to Brand New. Whether they were playing new songs like "Believe You're Mine" and "Cold To See Clear" or a classic like "See These Bones," they just had such a sweet sound. They also mentioned on stage that they'll be playing Let Go in full on tour next year for its 15th anniversary, so stay tuned for more info on that.
Pictures of the Kings Theatre show are in the gallery above, and both bands' setlists and some videos are below.
Brand New @ Kings Theatre - 10/19/17 Setlist
Lit Me Up
Out of Mana
You Won't Know
Can't Get It Out
Okay I Believe You, but My Tommy Gun Don't
Sic Transit Gloria... Glory Fades
I Will Play My Game Beneath the Spin Light
At the Bottom
In the Water
Soco Amaretto Lime
Nada Surf @ Kings Theatre - 10/1917 Setlist
Believe You're Mine
Cold To See Clear
Inside of Love
See These Bones
photos by Amanda Hatfield