Photos Courtesy of Mehra Romezi @ AMehraB Photo
Walking into the Palladium, one gets the sense of arriving in some gigantic, Las Vegas bowling alley. With its sleek, retro interior and the cheesy patterns on the carpet, the hallway leading into the auditorium could, for an instant, confuse one into thinking that there are slot machines, poker tables, and bowling lanes around the next corner.
The auditorium floor, made entirely from thin strips of wood in a giant circle has the feel of bowling lane turned skating rink, and looking up, one sees the LED lighting shining against the expanding circular frames lining the ceiling. Between performances they even played bowling noises for the audience to confirm my suspicions, or at least to strengthen them. Would Siegfried and Roy suddenly appear on the stage set up in the front of the room? No, but Brand New would, eventually.
Brand New walked on after the opening acts, and without pausing, started into their performance. Before too long, and expectedly, the plaintive beginning chants of the song “You Won’t Know” gave way to screams of angst and anger. The audience immediately responded with a minor bout of crowd-surfers skimming the heads of the front section.
Jesse Lacey said very few words between songs. Although perfunctory, his voice sounded genuine and slightly sad, as though he didn’t quite believe the screams, cheers, and singing along coming from the audience belonged to him and the band.
Midway through the set he simply told the audience, “I’m going to play some new stuff.” This series of songs built up with the intensity of Tool and landed with scream-o/hardcore vocals worthy of bands such as Cannibal Corpse or Children of Bodom. Brand New took its time to make its transition from emo punk to borderline metal during the show, and by the time it happened the crowd surfers remained standing. The audience as a whole didn’t quite move as much as though tired from the amount of sheer energy exuded from the band. The same amount of cheers followed each song, reassuring, as it might have been, the band that it didn’t wipe the audience out.
Projections of animals, spiders, and other weird creatures accompanied the songs throughout the rest of the performance. It was as though Halloween had arrived at the Palladium two weeks early, and someone projected it behind the band. The lighting, amazing and expressionistic in its own right, provided the just the right eerie ambiance to give the songs yet another dark edge to them.
Jessie said at one point, and I paraphrase, “I want to thank everyone who listened to the record, everyone who bought the record and listened to it, everyone who downloaded the record off the Internet and listened to it, whether legally or illegally.” To which a girl from the audience screamed in reply, “I love you Jesse.” Brand New, it seems, has come to terms with some of their demos being released prematurely in 2006. Whatever Lacey’s fears about the audience’s reaction to hearing a song mid-creation it doesn’t seem to have affected their fans’ loyalty whatsoever.
The show ended with the song “Play Crack the Sky,” with Lacey solo on guitar. It’s a sad song about lost love and the heartbreak that follows, a song to cause any forlorn ex-lover to dive into reminiscences of the absent other. Some girl must have hurt Lacey, because the beauty of the song conveys the hurt and loss palpably. To end the show he simply walked offstage. The lights went up and some of the audience cheered for an encore, but the security guards started waving their flashlights to signal that it was time to leave.