Brand New’s first London shows since their one off Wembley performance saw them pack out Camden’s Roundhouse this weekend.
Shuttling between raw emotion and playful banter on Sunday night, the New Jersey five-piece picked hits and album favourites from across their back catalogue; carefully orchestrating the highs and lows, the pogoing anthems and the quiet, fraught sing-alongs.
Frontman Jesse Lacey opened the set, playing Tautou all alone on the backlit stage as the rest of the band filed on, before things really kicked in with Millstone and Sowing season. Then followed three songs from the band’s latest release Daisy, before Sic Transit Gloria, the first of seven rocking tracks from the band’s early career which saw the crowd erupt into a jumping, moshing, air-punching frenzy.
Things calmed down for a while with Play Crack the Sky, a cool, yearning song about the dissolution of a relationship retold through the metaphor of shipwreck (maybe I’m reading too deeply, but that’s how it felt in the suddenly hushed crowd). That was chased by The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot, before Jesus heralded a return to tracks from the more mature and considered songs of the last few years.
Brand New are a band who have always shown progress from album to album, and in this well balanced show they used this to good effect, with pop-punk numbers and indie-rock allegories for fans from 13 to 30 (although anyone much older may have been a little confounded by it all). Lacey was in fine form, switching from jokes about time-signatures and forgetting songs to pure emotional highs and lows. The segue into set-finisher You Won’t Know was full of distortion and cathartic primal-scream-esque shouting, leaving the audience to wonder if they were actually witnessing a live, onstage mental breakdown.
The audience themselves deserve a mention, as its doubtful many bands could find such a committed following. The atmosphere was truly electric, emotions were running high and every song felt like an anthem, every line was taken as a personal maxim. Drawing on such euphoria, the band can be forgiven for playing every song like their life depended on it, but that’s what they did, ramping it up to eleven and making the venue reverberate with what are usually such fragile feelings. Truly one to remember.