The crowd at center stage surged forward, nearly crushing many in the front row, reacting to any slight movement on the stage that might have suggested Brand New were finally ready to play. After two girls were pulled out of the swarm of fans by the bouncers, the lights dimmed at last, the band nonchalantly took the stage and the Hampton Beach Ballroom Casino was filled with deafening screams of joy and uncontrollable excitement.
With the opening song “Sink” from Brand New’s most recent release “Daisy,” it immediately became apparent that there was a severe division among the fans. Half the crowd began jumping up and down, singing along passionately, while the other half stood there, dumbstruck, as if this were not the band they came to see.
Many fans would endlessly scream song titles from the band’s first album “Your Favorite Weapon” between songs.
“They could just play all of ‘Your Favorite Weapon’ and I’d be happy,” one concert-goer said.
It’s a fairly known fact that Brand New plays very few songs from that album in their sets anymore, given that their sound has evolved and matured drastically since its release nine years ago.
Though a large portion of the fans were there solely to hear the two songs from that album the band ended up playing, it was obvious the band members themselves are less than fond of their initial work. The second they began the song “Seventy times 7,” a hit from “Your Favorite Weapon,” the crowd erupted and the band looked almost deflated.
During songs like “Degausser” and “At the Bottom,” the band played with raw emotion and incredible intensity. It was especially apparent in vocalist/guitarist Jesse Lacey, who would sing with such passion during their newer songs and appear almost bored during their older ones.
Only at one point during their set did the rift between fans disappear. The one song all Brand New fans can seem to agree is the acoustic “Play Crack the Sky.” As Lacey played the opening notes, the rest of the band left the stage, guitarist Vinnie Accardi laid on the side of the stage, waiting for his part to come back in, and nearly 50 lighters lit the ballroom.
The crowd finally felt united as fans of the same band, no longer fighting old against new, but simply singing along together to a beautiful song. It was clear that almost every person in the room was singing at the top of their lungs, nearly drowning Lacey out.
Although that was supposed to be the final song, the band decided to appease the mass amounts of screams for “Jude Law”; Lacey barely got the first word out of his mouth before the entire room exploded with screams of elation.
After the show, many fans had mixed feelings about the set.
“It wasn’t as good as ones in the past. More ‘Deja (Entendu)’ less ‘Daisy’,” Shawn O’Sullivan of Boston said.
“I thought it was fantastic. I’m glad they didn’t play much of their older material, the entire band is so much better musicians now, their songs are much more meaningful,” Tamara McCauley, a Hampton local said.