Brand New w/ Manchester Orchestra/The Builders & The Butchers
10/17/2009 – The Palladium: Hollywood, CA
Words/Photos by Reverend Justito
It is pure dumb luck that I ever gave Brand New a chance. Sent on assignment to check in on the emerging y’alt rock hipster scene coming out of Portland, OR, I ended up watching Brand New steal a poorly planned festival gig from two veteran alt rock bands. With an outstanding new album called Daisy I headed into my old stomping grounds to finally experience a full on Brand New show curious if they could hold up to the high expectations I had for them.
Perhaps it was just a coincidence, but the first band to hit the stage inside the Hollywood Palladium was a Portland, Oregon y’alt rock hipster act called The Builders and the Butchers. The floor was pretty packed as the band took to the stage armed with Mandolins and acoustic guitars. I feared they may end up getting heckled, but for 30 minutes the band truly entertained the crowd (and even got them to participate with claps and sing alongs). Not knowing anything about the band, they sounded very young and raw. The bands front man at one point mentioned that this was the 2nd biggest crowd they have ever played too The songs were solid, but lacked that special something that is found within a peer like Blitzen Trapper or even Modest Mouse. They did have beards, they wore flannel and even used a melodica on one song, further pushing an already growing stereotype of the Rose City. It would be interesting to see these guys again in a few years when they have a lot more road experience under their belt.
By no coincidence what so ever, I went into this show knowing one thing about Manchester Orchestra. They have a terrible name. I mean yeah, ok I understand that we are running out of band names, and yes, thanks for not having a name like In trusting the raddest kids on the horizon but come on, really? Well, while your name blow, but hot damn you made me a fan with the 45 minutes you got to rage as main support. Where to start? Heavy riffs with vocals that remind me of Tripping Daisy, sung by a dude who looks and moves a lot like Jim James. SOLID post hardcore, a dash of moe. and a smidge of emo. There were huge moments of either jams or some serious proggy interludes. Next time I am cruising the aisles of my local record store, I’m searching out these guys, really solid stuff.
With the venue sold out well in advance (and a second show added the following night) Brand New tortured their fans as roadies prepared the stage. A loop of bowling pins played over the PA, driving everyone deep into madness as they waited and waited for the headliner to emerge. When the Long Island natives finally hit the stage, the young crowd erupted with delight. The band softly built up a wall of sound that became “You Won’t Know” from their 2006 record The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me. “Degausser” from the same album followed as young girls fainted from the crowds swarm. Despite the high level of excitement from the start, it was not until the bands third song – “I Believe You But My Tommy Gun Don’t” that the crowd truly went into overdrive. Singing along to the over-analyzed lyrics of front man Jesse Lacey, the audience often drowned out the tender and delicate first section of song. As the song grew into a big power chord driven chorus, the band was just getting warmed up. Another song from their highly successful album Déjà Entendu followed with (perhaps their biggest hit) “Sic Transit Gloria…Glory Fades” with its deep bass groves and 0-60mph in 2 seconds chorus got a rowdy response from much of the crowd.
It took the band 7 songs before they finally performed something from their most excellent recent release – Daisy. “Vices” straight up rocks. It is a loud screaming unapologetic punk rock song which is even more abrasive live than on record. I have to say, it’s a shame they went into “Gasoline” from here. Perhaps it is just because it’s not a favorite of mine, but the following song – “Sowing Season” with its softLOUDsoft build up and crashes would have been a sensory overload paired with “Vices”.
Despite the misplacing of “Gasoline”, I really felt the new songs translated well in a live setting. “Bought A Bride” had interesting backing visuals of a doll that I swear my grandmother had in her home when I was a kid, which actually made me lose focus of what a great song it is. Another new song “Sink” cemented my belief that Daisy is an exciting mix that is one part Modest Mouse jagged riffs, big booming At The Drive-In power chords, yet 100% Brand New. As he did throughout the night, “Sink” allowed main Axe slinger Garrett Tierney tore it up with vicious solos over two rhythm guitars. “You Stole” is another perfect example of the Modest Mouse ala Tierney connection.
For me, Brand New is all about the crazy guitar riffs, bloody murder screams and just the overall onslaught of melodic noise the band specializes in. I realize I am in the minority, as a Brand New show is anything but a sausage fest. Looking out at the crowded floor, it’s hard not to notice the puppy dog love struck faces of a barely legal (if that) fan base that get a totally different experience out of Brand New than myself. They sing along to a song like “Jesus”, I play guitar parts along inside my head with “At The Bottom”. Sure, it’s hard to not analyze a lyric here or there, and when I pay attention, there is some pretty deep stuff going on. However I couldn’t even tell you what banter Lacey was mumbling upon the stage, I just wanted more noise.
The show ended on a weird note, which I still can’t really digest. With no encore, the band said goodbye, leaving just Tierney and Lacey with nothing more than a tambourine, acoustic guitar and vocals. “Play Crack The Sky” gave the gals one last chance to sing along, yet left me wanting more. Sure, it’s a nice pretty song, and yeah it says this is the end in the lyrics and there is no more show, but God damn how can you rock me for almost two hours and then just pull the plug like that? Despite the crash and burn at the end, the show and went well beyond my expectations. The band made sure to cover all four of their records, giving a solid mix of old and new. The band sounded tight, the various instruments were clear in the mix and I left wanting more. Then again, what do I know, I am not a 19 year old girl?