Image: Brand New/Instagram
The stage was bare, empty — save a handful of people all sprawled, sitting in a pathetic excuse for a circle. I sat cross-legged next to Brad and across from Shannan. We were 16 and painting a slab of wood for the next school production. It was probably only our second day as part of the behind-the-scenes theater crew, and I still have no idea to this day what we painted or the name of the play — but I do remember thinking the set we painted looked like shit in the end.
After dipping my paintbrush in the black paint for the umpteenth time, I remember Brad talking about a band I had never heard before. I barely tuned in. If it wasn’t about Mars Volta or At the Drive-In or Thursday or Funeral for a Friend (and holy shit, does anyone remember Saosin?), I wasn’t particularly interested. I was already fully consumed in memorizing the liners for all five of those bands and their respective albums. So, thanks but no thanks, Brad. I’ll take you up on that later.
But he insisted. He handed me the CD of this unfamiliar band and swore I’d like it. So I went home and gave it a shot.
About an hour later, track No. 4 became an unhealthy obsession. I related to whoever that poor girl was in that song, who, too, was a sucker for anything acoustic. I suddenly wanted to be simultaneously loved and hated by an emo kid with a knack for writing and delicately screaming lyrics in the perfectly moody, whiney, borderline aggressive way Jesse did. I wanted a song written by me in the immature, yet insightful way he wrote it. I wanted to be both insulted and worshipped. I wanted those daggers disguised as lyrics to have my name carved in them. (Sixteen-year-old emo girl at its finest, ladies and gentlemen).
Brad was right; I would like it. But he likely didn’t know my love for Brand New would quickly become a life-long addiction.
And they’re still my favorite band. Some of my most vivid memories involve their music as the soundtrack of those moments.
The first concert I saw of theirs was at the Marquee in Tempe, 2007, with Kevin Devine and Manchester Orchestra. It was crowded and felt disgustingly hot — but I don’t remember anything else about the environment. I don’t remember the people, the conversations I had or getting there or leaving. All I remember is the music, how the band sounded, singing along to the lyrics, getting lost in every beat from the kick drum and crescendo and decrescendo of sound and pure emotion from both the stage and the crowd. I remember how the music made me feel.
Then, eight years later, I’d see them again — back in Tempe at Summer Ends in September, also with Kevin Devine and Manchester Orchestra. Full f***ing circle. And now, after listening to their two new on repeat for months, I sit at my desk at work crushed that the band’s postponed the release of their new album. But not only that, that they hinted at a breaking up.
But don’t worry, Brand New, fans. Not only are they dedicating their next tour to The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me (which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year), but you still have six other fantastic, life-changing Brand New albums and likely as many (if not more!) unforgettable live show experiences than I’ve had. So you can’t be too disappointed, right?
Alright, that’s it; excuse me while I head back to Spotify and listen to Deja Entendu again today.