Brand New at Pegasus Fest in Grand Prairie

Brand New, the alternative rock band from Long Island, formed in the middle of my youth. Having grown up in the Dallas area, our middle school was full of young scenesters with their greasy straight black hair slumped over notepads where they drew hearts around vocalist/guitarist/lyricist Jesse Lacey’s name. The teenage angst dominating their first pop-punk influenced album Your Favorite Weapon in songs like “Mix Tape,” “Failure by Design” and “Seventy Times Seven” filled our hearts and heads. Through closed doors, the school cried as a gorgeous senior video montage our high school made slowed, turned black and white and played the final track “Soco Amaretto Lime.”

As we matured into high school, Deja Entendu hit our new iPod videos with new force as we hear the classic “The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows” and “Sic Transit Gloria… Glory Fades.”

The album also got us to watch and re-watch film favorites like Amelie (played by Actress Audrey Tautou for which the song “Tautou” is named), Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (“Okay I Believe you But My Tommy Gun Don’t”) and the Wes Anderson cult favorite Rushmore.

Of course, my personal favorite was always Me vs. Madonna Vs. Elvis, a powerful song that isn’t really about rape. They also move further away from pop-punk and incorporate more elements of screamo, the growing genre at the time, which led to their release of Daisy two albums later.

When we turned 16, we made mixed CDs or bought tape adaptors to make sure “Sowing Season,” “Jesus” and “Degausser” from the newly released The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me. And no matter the temperature, our windows were down so the deep vocal harmonies and screamed lyrics could be heard across the Metroplex while we stole our parents’ cars and alcohol to party like only 16-year-olds can. Our MySpace walls were stacked with brand new Brand New lyrics.

When Daisy hit in 2009, I was out in Lubbock attending school. I hadn’t liked The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me much until then but as I grew older I started to appreciate the album for what it was worth. Brand New announced concert dates for Lubbock as part of their Daisy tour and the city went crazy. Though I never grew to like Daisy, I still hoped I could hear Lacey give the screamo a rest and slide back into the songs that I feel helped define who I am.

Unfortunately, the concert didn’t happen. And neither did new music.

So, when Pegasus Festival announced that Brand New was headlining, my girlfriend and I both screamed and played their first three albums on repeat for a couple weeks. Since they hadn’t produced new music in a long time and they were the headlining band, we hoped they would play some Brand New classics.

As the crew finished setting up the stage for Brand New, the house dimmed the lights and played “Please Don’t Keep Me Waiting” by Olivia Newton-John.

Everyone went insane but the cheering died  to laughter as we all realized that they intended to play all five minutes of the song. The music stopped and the crowd erupted as Brand New started Sowing Season. When they hit the chorus the lights started flashing and it was so loud and crazy, then it stopped for the next verse. As the lights were flashing you couldn’t see anyone’s faces, since a boquets of daisies between purple flowers enveloped Jesse Lacey’s and all other mics onstage. Lacey kept a ball cap on for most of the show, Tierney mostly kept his back turned, drummer Brian Lane was masked by his cymbals, and Accardi was blocked by a mat of ever-moving hair. “Sowing Season” proved the most powerful opening to any concert I’ve seen and remains one of just a few songs from the album I still know the words too. The crowd went wild and in that moment, I knew that this would be the best concert I would ever see.

Then, Brand New played “Vices,” followed by “Sink” and “Gasoline”—three songs from Daisy, which wasn’t surprising but a little disappointing.

With a funny transition, they moved into “Sic Transit Gloria… Glory Fades.” The crowd went wild and mosh pits on the floor could be seen from the balcony.

The energy from Sic Transit Gloria carried over into Okay I Believe You, but My Tommy Gun Don’t which was undeniably the highlight of the show, played about halfway through. It was the loudest as the audience sung so loud it almost drowned Lacey out…thankfully, as his voice was cracking.

They followed that with “Welcome to Bangkok,” “You Stole,” and “At the Bottom.”

“Jesus” tried to return to the energy of  “Okay I Believe You…”, but the song is naturally slower and the audience didn’t sing as loudly.

Degausser kept me interested until Brand New ended the show with “You Won’t Know.” The ending was powerful, elegant and excellently executed as each musician left the stage one by one letting the music loop and ring in the air.

Though it was a festival, and bands typically don’t have an encore during a festival performance, Brand New and Pegasus Fest continued to frustrate because concert etiquette is that when house lights remain dimmed, no announcement is made declaring that everyone should go home and music is still playing, an encore can be expected. Grand Prairie stayed in Verizon Theater and chanted “one more song” and “encore” for a full five minutes before they decided to turn the house lights on.

I’ve been waiting to see Brand New since I entered high school and I guess we all hoped that Jesse Lacey and the band would return for an acoustic set ending in the powerful and nostalgic “Soco Amaretto Lime” just as they had when I ended high school. Had I not gone into the concert with the mindset that I would hear more than just four songs I actually liked, I would have been a lot more impressed with the show. I mean, everyone else seemed to know the songs from Daisy a lot better than I did.

This is not to say the concert wasn’t good or enjoyable. Overall, besides Lacey’s stretched and strained vocals, they performed flawlessly. Guitarist/vocalist/lyricist Vincent Accardi is an animal with wild hair head banging and flying around the stage or throwing his guitar in the air to return to playing immediately. The sound quality was clear and crisp, just loud enough, and paired with appropriate lighting. They transitioned between songs effortlessly but didn’t forget to engage their audience.