Brand New Live at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center

Brand New Live at the North Charleston Art center: Concert Review

Although my friend and I didn’t know a single person in the crowd, I felt connected to all of these people through Brand New.
- Mary Dillard

Brand New is a band with a cult following of sorts (see Ryan Basil’s Op-Ed on the band for Vice). That being said, it’s no surprise that when the band released Science Fiction (their first album in eight years) tickets for their subsequent fall tour, tickets sold like hot cakes. Having just recently discovered and fallen in love with the band, I too quickly ponied up cash to see Brand New live. Given their well-known apprehension of fame and their senescent status, one cannot be faulted for wondering whether or not Brand New had aged gracefully. Luckily for me and everyone else in attendance that night, they have. It’s 2017 and 18 years on, Brand New have never been better.

So there I was, sitting in the orchestra section of the North Charleston Performing Arts Center when all of a sudden the lights dimmed, the curtain rose, and the now infamous voiceover that opens Science Fiction echoed throughout the room. “This tape recounts a dream which occurred close to the termination of approximately 400 hours of intensive, individual therapy,” rang out to thunderous applause. The band appeared behind an LED screen that flashed pops of color choreographed to the music. The show was hitting on all cylinders and the audience was captivated as they swayed back and forth throughout the entire, pensive six minute opener. Next on the set list was “Gasoline.” With its convulsive drumbeat and raging vocals, the concert was now in full swing; and the crowd (me included) was loving it. Now a quick disclaimer- I had to change seats and watch the concert from the side aisle because my handicap seats weren’t exactly handicap when everyone was standing up. Therefore, unfortunately I can’t tell you much more about the light show, but I can tell you from what I heard and the sliver of stage I could see- this was one hell of a show.

The band gave rousing renditions of Science Fiction cuts “Out of Mana” and “451,” and the audience singing every word. For me, lead guitarist Vincent Accardi proved to be a particularly indomitable force on stage. His masterful improvisation along with his maniacal and unrelenting energy gave him a larger-than-life presence throughout the night. The entire band embodied that energy and the crowd fed off it in a kind of chaotic frenzied symbiosis. I described Vincent Accardi as “larger-than-life,” but the same is true of front man Jesse Lacey. To put it simply, Brand New fans love this man and their adoration was on full display during the concert. A highlight for me was when he improvised the ending of The Devil and God’s “Degausser”. He put his own twist on the closing lyric with “no matter what they say I’m still the king”. It was as if Brand New were asserting their dominance over the post-hard-core genre they helped define one last time by essentially yelling the lyric into the microphone. The crowd loved it and I ended up spending more time comparing the renditions of each song and the crowd’s reaction than enjoying the actual performance.

Both the crowd and the band were committed to making this concert a memorable night. Whether it was Kevin Devine lighting up the room with his fun-loving antics, Garrett Tierney’s thumping bass, or Brian Lane anchoring the whole production on drums, the energy in the room was consistent from beginning to end. Additional highlights included Lacey climbing on the LED wall towards the end of “You Won’t Know”. The night ended with Jesse Lacey taking the stage by himself with just an acoustic guitar singing “Soco Amaretto Lime”. The teenage anthem off their first album, Your Favorite Weapon, was bellowed by every single person in the venue and it felt more like a bar than a coliseum with a 12,000 person capacity. In the closing moments of the show, I felt like our collective fandom reached its apex. Although my friend and I didn’t know a single person in the crowd, I felt connected to all of these people through Brand New. I’d found fellowship in my favorite band, and for a few hours I felt like I could “stay 18 forever”.