Eight years is a long time to be waiting for something and that’s the amount of time I’ve been waiting to see Brand New. I was 14 back then and while lots of things have changed over the years, my love for this music scene is not one of them. I’d have to say living on the Canadian prairies is the reason why it took so long, since the region is not a place many bands tour, especially bands from the United States. Brand New did play a show here back in 2007, but I was 16 and wasn’t really allowed to go to shows so all I could do was cross my fingers and hope they’d come back. Thankfully five years later they have and I knew when this tour was announced in March that there was no way I wouldn’t be there.
My expectations for this show were obviously sky high and I’m happy to say that Brand New definitely met them the second they came on stage for “Millstone.” All of them seemed happy, which I think is worth noting as well. I don’t know if it’s true, but I’ve heard the band can be a little standoffish, something I didn’t experience. Jesse didn’t talk much in between songs, but when he did he sounded enthusiastic for sure. They didn’t have a backdrop or anything like that, but they did have plenty of lights.
The venue was switched from the Burton Cummings Theatre to the Garrick, something I have mixed feelings about. I think Brand New deserve to sell more tickets, but the Garrick only holds 750 people and it’s my favourite venue in the city, one I haven’t been to since Face to Face were there in May 2011. I’m not too sure if they sold it out, since I know they were still selling tickets when I arrived. Still, I think they came close because it was quite packed and I got there just in time to secure my spot in front of Vinnie’s side of the stage. If I was standing further back or sitting in the seats, I don't think my experience would have been quite as awesome. I wanted to be right up there in the middle of everything and I'm really glad that I was. There was sadly a barricade, but it was a bigger show and there were a number of Jesse Lacey fangirls so I guess it was needed.
The set list has been circulating all over the Internet, including our Tour Discussion forum, so if you're really interested you can head there. It would have been nice to hear "Logan to Government Center" or "Me Vs. Maradona Vs. Elvis" but I really can't complain because I think they put together a fairly diverse selection. I'd rather write about things that seemed to be more unique to the Winnipeg show and the first was the addition of "Mix Tape" after "Jude Law and a Semester Abroad" and “Seventy Times 7.” I was wondering if there would be crowd surfing during the Your Favorite Weapon songs and there definitely was. There was also some great sing alongs, especially for “Mix Tape.” I find that song to be pretty cheesy now, I legitimately remember my older sister laughing out loud at the lyrics, but it was awesome to finally hear it live. For those three songs it was almost like they were an entirely different band in some ways, especially when they started up “Jesus” right after.
We also got “The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows,” which made me really happy because that was the first Brand New song I ever heard and the reason why I bought Deja Etendu. Hearing it was pretty special and I loved how Jesse’s guitar was out of tune at first so he just sort of hummed the opening guitar line. For the encore, Jesse came out to perform “Play Crack the Sky,” which was what I was expecting and it was an excellent way to end their set which lasted almost two hours. It’s hard to pick a favourite point, but near the end was probably the best. The live version of “You Won’t Know” was just phenomenal because the guys put everything they had into it. Vinnie grabbed one of the lights and started using it to strum his guitar while Jesse dropped to his knees as he was singing.
I was there strictly because of Brand New, but the openers were amazing too and both sets ended up blowing me away. An Horse are all the way from Australia and their songs remind me a little bit of something Tegan and Sara could write. Jesse Lacey himself actually came out to play bass for them, which was cool. He looked really happy up there with them and was singing along to most of the songs. I had to do a double take at first because he looked like he was a member of the band, not just a fill in. I really wish I was more familiar with Cursive, I’ve heard some stuff off The Ugly Organ, but I never really gave them the attention they probably deserved. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen someone sing with as much emotion as Tim Kasher does and I know I’ll be checking out more of their stuff now.
I just want to use the end of this to thank Union Events for bringing such an amazing tour up to Canada. And of course thanks to Brand New for agreeing to come up here to play for us, even though the drives are long and the crowds aren’t as big. I appreciate it.