w/ Men Women & Children, Colorable
07.25.06 @ Avalon, Boston, MA

Following a long and secretive stay in the studio, Brand New is finally back. However, the band remained guarded and photo-phobic at the Boston stop of its fan-appeasing teaser tour with Men Women & Children- understandable given the immense pressure on the band members to recreate their past success. Absolutely no cameras were allowed into the club, and no press passes were handed out on behalf of the band. Although the show had a very clandestine feel, there were signs that the band was readying for a return to the spotlight. Frontman Jesse Lacey was without the wool hat and thick-rimmed glasses Where’s Waldo get-up that had become his uniform of late- he looked like himself again. The band had tightened up its set since its shows in late April, and they readily debuted more new songs, which now had definite titles.

After an interesting short set by alt-rockers Colorable (imagine Coldplay with Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock spazzing out on vocals), Long Island’s Men Women & Children took the stage with a unique blend of oddball chic, disco fever and a charmingly retro sense of humor. The band’s choreographed stage moves and strange, fun dance tunes like “Monkey Monkee Men” were a completely unexpected yet enthusiastically welcomed addition to a rather serious night of music. A riled up performance of “Time For the Future (Bang Bang)” solidified the band’s status as every scenester’s guilty pleasure.

Men Women & Children’s momentum continued to escalate throughout their set, peaking with their last song, “Dance In My Blood.” Charismatic vocalist T.J. Penzone worked the stage, and the crowd was worked up into a frenzy. As the lyrics to the song affirm, we may “not need a reason to get out on the dance floor,” but Men Women & Children’s infectious hipster disco tunes gave concertgoers a damn good reason to shake it. Even the drunken frat boy hecklers (perhaps they got lost on their way to Ozzfest?) were silenced by the end of the band’s lively set, a tremendous feat for a new act.

After a torturous 50-minute wait, headliner Brand New emerged to adoring yet irritable cheers. All negativity disappeared quickly as the applause faded into the gentle yet gripping “Tautou” and Lacey’s quivering voice filled the room. The band quickly picked up the pace with the blistering breakdowns of a new song and the familiar riffs of “The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows.” A powerful rendition of “Guernica” teemed with strong emotion, and “Take Your Head Apart,” the reported first single from the upcoming album, was memorable and intriguing.

What’s most notable about Brand New’s live show is how well this band works together – there is no weak link in Brand New. All four band members are not simple performers, but skilled musicians with a vision, and this makes them much more interesting than the multitudes of emo hacks. The complex, layered and meaningful rock of 2003’s Deja Entendu nearly broke the band free of its emo shackles, and as it ended the night with “Sic Transit Gloria (Glory Fades),” there was no doubt that Brand New will finish the job very soon.

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