Long Island natives, Brand New, stunned a disciple crowd on Thursday at King’s Theater in Brooklyn. The band’s momentum has continued from their latest summer release, “Science Fiction.” The band’s looming 2018 breakup was announced last year, and fans have mourned its early demise ever since.
The show felt like a self-eulogy from the living. Opening with “Lit Me Up,” the opening track off their newest release, the band was initially covered by a projected backdrop image of a fence, which set the tone of the night. Virtual flames, embers and stars floated across the board. After a few songs, the fence was lifted, dramatically revealing the band in a way that left the crowd screaming.
The King’s Theater was aesthetically pleasing itself — the venue is adorned in gold and dark orange hues with intricate castings that sprout from the walls to the ceiling. Frontman Jesse Lacey announced to the audience that it may have been the most beautiful venue he’d ever played.
Lacey then turned to an older crowd favorite, “Gasoline,” and let loose. The band looked impossibly happy — each member jumped and moved to the beat of their own sound, clearly engrossed in the magic of the moment. It was obvious that the band members were relishing what could be their last string of shows, though many fans expect one last tour in 2018 before the band retires for good.
The band laced its favorites from its newest album with the highlights of older discography. Drifting from the newest album’s highpoint “Can’t Get It Out” to its iconic single “Okay I Believe You But My Tommy Gun Don’t,” the band offered the audience an immersive look inside the band members’ growth as musicians. Remnants of Brand New’s past successes can be found in its newest releases; the telltale high riffs and strong focus on drums made the band recognizable, but also showcased the change in its sound.
The crowd was most noticeably excited to hear two of the band’s best from its 2003 album: “Sic Transit Gloria…Glory Fades” and “I Will Play My Game Beneath the Spin Light.” At times the crowd roared so thunderously that the band was completely drowned out. The band fed off the audience’s energy and gave back tenfold through improvised solos and heart-wrenching screams. Lacey seemed more relaxed than ever — he danced, swayed and smiled to the palpable enthusiasm in the air.
Brand New’s magical stage presence comes straight from Lacey’s vulnerability in “I Will Play My Game Beneath the Spin Light.” He sings “watch me as I cut myself wide open on this stage, yes I am paid to spill my guts,” which reflects the process of handing personal lyrics to a hungry crowd. It was easy to see the meaning of these lyrics manifest themselves in looking at the desperate, emotional faces of those in the crowd — a group of people in their late 20s with past demons who never really grew up.
Toward the end of the set, hits from “The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me” drew instant tears from a crowd mourning the loss of their favorite band. “Jesus Christ” and “Sowing Season” brought the show to a close, but it wasn’t long before Lacey returned to perform a solo, acoustic closer and crowd favorite, “Soco Amaretto Lime.” The teenage angst anthem took everyone back to high school heartbreaks that had once seemed too gut-wrenching to ever overcome.
As the band left the stage, the audience seemed to take a collective breath. A patron beside me mentioned she had flown from Guatemala just to see the show, and a couple flashed their matching Brand New tattoos. The band may be retiring, but fans have refused to let the music go. Brand New’s impact will be carried vicariously through them.
Email Brandi Powell at [email protected].