6.29.2013

Concert Review: New Found Glory

Welcome to the second edition of my retelling of live music experiences in Seattle. Last time I talked about Lydia; this time around I'll be talking about one of my all-time favorite bands, New Found Glory. Once again, a bit of background before the highlights of the actual show.

NEW FOUND GLORY - 6/2/13 @ Showbox at The Market
w/ State Champs & Cartel

The faces of champions.

Few bands have been as pivotal as New Found Glory when it comes to my personal journey as a fan of music. I was a late bloomer with music; I never paid much attention to it until middle school. Even then, being raised in a Christian home as a pastor's kid led to me Christian music before any other type. We're talking D.C. Talk, Audio Adrenaline, Third Day, and of course - Newsboys. I was all about those Aussies.

When a friend showed me "My Friends Over You" by New Found Glory off of their 2002 release Sticks & Stones, I was blown away. What heavenly noise was this? What undiscovered portion of the sonic realm had my friend stumbled upon? When would the devil arrive to grasp me in his claws for once and all after my subsequent discovery of "secular" music? 

This song started it all. I quickly downloaded the rest of the album and blasted it multiple times daily. Of course, I didn't renounce my love of Christian music, but this foray into new territory sparked a whole new curiosity for music within me, leading me to all sorts of other terrible, angst-ridden bands that were oh-so-popular in the early 2000's, which meant that they would easily resonate with my fourteen year-old self. Disturbed, Taproot, Staind, Saliva, Seether, Linkin Park....the list goes on. However, alongside Tool and Chevelle, New Found Glory is one of the few bands out of my early experimenting that to this day I still enjoy listening to.

The song that started it all.

I'll admit, I didn't much keep up with the band following Sticks & Stones. I got excited after seeing the music video for their single "All Downhill From Here" from their 2004 release, Catalyst. It was kind of a weird video, but it prompted me to purchase the new album from Target. After that, I sort of lost interest. I later downloaded Coming Home, mildly enjoying it. As the years went by, I never listened to another one of their albums. The band kept going, releasing music while I ventured on into other areas of musical interest. I still to this day haven't heard any of their music after Coming Home. Am I a true fan? Probably not.

Back when MTV still played music.

I heard that New Found Glory was going on a nationwide tour to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the release of Sticks & Stones, in which they would be playing the album in its entirety. The fourteen year-old in me awakened, demanding that I attend. This was an opportunity I could not pass up - a chance to see the first non-Christian band I had ever listened to playing my first favorite album ever? Sign me up. I purchased a ticket months in advance in anticipation of this event. 

Now, I'm an avid live music fan. I've attended all manner of shows in all kinds of venues. I'm not as spry and reckless as I used to be, which meant that I no longer launched myself into the pit at shows where pits were the norm, nor did I force myself to the typical shove-fest that usually occurs in the front near the stage. However, I made it clear to my friends that I would make an exception for this show. It didn't seem like it would be possible, as my friend (now girlfriend) Blaire and I found ourselves near the back behind pretty much every tall guy in the room at the end of Cartel's set and prior to New Found Glory's sound check. 

Speaking of the opening bands, we purposely showed up late to miss them. We only caught about three of Cartel's songs, which was about three more than we wanted to. Thankfully they were short.

When NFG took the stage and launched into "Understatement" - the opening track from Sticks & Stones - all my teenage excitement returned from a decade ago and prompted me to act a fool. Blaire and I were pretty much immediately separated (I didn't see her again until after the show). Somehow, a near perfect alley to the front opened up and I found myself swaying with the motion of the crowd, squished together like sardines. I was about three rows deep from the front barrier, right in front of lead guitarist Chad Gilbert.

For the whole rest of the show, I screamed every lyric out at the top of my voice. Heck, I even knew all the vocal harmonies. I jumped when the crowd jumped. I clapped when told to by the band. I ate up every word uttered by them. I swear both guitarists and bassist Ian Grushka (who has an awesome stage presence, see below) locked eyes with me as I belted out the words to every song. It was the most high-energy and exciting show I've ever been to.

Picture this but without a shirt. That's how he showed up.

When they zipped through the album (pop-punk isn't known for its length), they stated that it would be wrong of them to only play songs from that Sticks & Stones. So they stormed back out on stage for an encore, playing old favorites, a Ramones cover, and some of the new stuff I hadn't even heard yet. 

Link to the setlist.

Highlights: Oh man, where to begin? Other than getting to see one of my favorite bands for the first time, I suppose there were some stellar moments. The band let a little kid (couldn't have been more than five years old) come on stage and sing some of the lyrics. Chad Gilbert rushed off the stage to the barrier and handed a little girl - who was on her dad's shoulders - his guitar pick. Jordan Pundik  giving MxPx a shout out as one of their original inspirations, teaching them that "it was cool to write pop punk songs about girls". Jordan's words before the song "Forget My Name" about how they were kids when they originally recorded the album and how they all moved out of their parents' houses to San Diego, leaving Florida behind. Seeing my friend Austin crowdsurfing to the front. Failing to do the same while almost landing flat on my back during the encore. Chad Gilbert going all Shai Hulud style on vocals for a few songs. 

Lowlights: I can't say this very often, but there were none. The show was perfect in every aspect. The band's energy was awesome, their performance was flawless, and the crowd was wild while maintaining a fun atmosphere. Had Blaire and I been stuck behind those tall dudes the entire show, it would have been a different experience. But when you're at a pop-punk show for a band you've liked for over ten years, you have to party. You have to.

I don't know that I'll get the chance to catch these guys again, but I'm glad I did this time around. It was a rush of nostalgia, reminding me that I'm never too old for certain things. May I never forget that!

Until the next show,

JDS

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