Although I had heard New Found Glory before, it was 2002's Sticks and Stones that cemented their spot as one of my favorite bands, where they have remained for the last decade. I've lost track of how many times I've seen them live - probably more than any other act - and they have never disappointed. While their self-titled 10th anniversary tour was memorable, the small club really brought the Sticks and Stones tour to the next level. Of the many times I've seen them, their performance at The Met in Pawtucket, RI on December 5th may very well be my favorite.
Opening the show was Candy Hearts, a band with a direct connection to New Found Glory. Guitarist Chad Gilbert produced their new EP, The Best Ways to Disappear, and released it on his Bridge Nine imprint, Violently Happy Records. It was their first show on the tour (replacing Seahaven, who opened the first leg), and they were visibly excited to be there.
While New Found Glory would later bring the audience back to 2002, Candy Hearts transported audiences to the '90s with their brand of female-fronted indie rock (think Lemuria). Although vocalist/guitarist Mariel Loveland was front and center, it was drummer Matthew Ferraro whose performance stood out the most. The crowd of enthusiastic pop punk defenders were unsure of how to react, but the band seemed to win many of them over by the time their 25-minute set concluded with "Flashers Flashing."
When I saw The Story So Far on the Glamour Kills Tour earlier this year, the audience was so rambunctious that the barricade literally couldn't hold them back. At this small venue with no barricade to speak of, the crowd lost all inhibition. The reaction to The Story So Far was nearly as big as that of New Found Glory (the band from whom their name originates, interestingly enough), with countless fans stage diving and piling on throughout their performance.
The band opened with fan favorite "Daughters" and went on to play about a half hour's worth of material from their full-length debut, Under Soil and Dirt. Highlights included "Roam," "Mt. Diablo" and set closer "Quicksand." The set seemed short, but they made their sparse time count. They sounded good, vocalist Parker Cannon in particular, but the real highlight was watching the crowd go hard. As young, hardworking musicians with a rapidly growing fanbase (and a coveted spot secured on the 2013 Warped Tour), I believe The Story So Far are on their way to being a big part of the future of pop punk.
New Found Glory came onto the stage, appropriately, to the Back to the Future theme before kicking up the power to 1.21 gigawatts for "Understatement." They blew through Sticks and Stones in about 40 minutes, without much talking between songs. The album is the perfect mix of tempos, allowing fans to relax (relatively, at least) between the fast-paced songs. The sold out, 600-capacity crowd sang along at the top of their lungs with every word of the 12 tracks between stage diving, crowd surfing and moshing. It was particularly neat to hear the songs the band doesn't get the opportunity to play as often.
Upon completing the album, they returned to the stage for an encore that represented the rest of their formidable discography, including such fan favorites as "All Downhill from Here," "Better Off Dead" and an old song, "2's and 3's." The set was relatively short by headlining standards - in total, it was just over an hour - but it's hard to complain when that time was put to such good use. It was truly a treat to see New Found Glory in such an intimate setting with no separation between the band and their fans. Both parties had nostalgic fun, soaked in sweat and singing along. (Gilbert commended the rare high volume of female stage divers and remarked that the venue smelled like a stinkbomb.)
Gilbert prefaced closer "Hit or Miss" by addressing the recent "hiatus" confusion. He assured the crowd that he and his four bandmates love New Found Glory more than anything and stated, "We plan on being a band forever!" This comment received one of the loudest reactions of the night, and it's no doubt that the band is serious. With the same line-up for 15 years and counting, and the members only in their early- to mid-30s, New Found Glory shows no intention of slowing down anytime soon. I'm already looking forward to the 20th anniversary in Sticks and Stones in 2022.