Better Than: Being forced to actually eat sardines, while packed like them?
If last night's New Found Glory
show at Revolution -- its second at the venue in the past year -- proved anything, it's that it's outgrown these digs. In a big way. While Coral Springs' best pop-punkers made good still seem like a homegrown, cultish type of band, with over a decade in the biz they're starting to enter the classic pop-punk pantheon.
Last night's fans comprised both twenty- and early-thirty-somethings who were around for the band's beginnings, as well as younger teens paying respect. And there were lots of members of each camp. LOTS. The show was sold out, and inside wound up so crowded as to be physically uncomfortable.
First off was a perfectly serviceable, but color-by-numbers pop-punk set by openers Fireworks
, a fivesome from Detroit. But the following act, the irritatingly punctuated hellogoodbye
, provided the biggest surprise of the evening. The quintet opened with a syrupy song that found frontman Forrest Kline AutoTuned live. Fail! Jay-Z forgot there is an entire camp of emaciated white guys abusing the effect too; wish he would issue some choice words for them. Kline also insisted, throughout the set, on randomly cuing an applause track on a keyboard he kept nearby on a stool.
Still, the meat of the set could melt an icy rock critic's heart. Instead of focusing on the cheesy pop-punk stuff that made the band minor stars in the mid-00s, much of the new material had more of a straight-up rock feel. It was earnest, slightly rootsy, and driven by piano. If I didn't know these guys were from Orange County, California, I would say their new sound is midwestern. It was enough to make me forgive, but only a little, the return of AutoTune on the set closer, the band's 2006 hit "Here (In Your Arms)."
By the time Saves the Day
took the stage, the crowd had reached epic crushing proportions; it was now impossible to stand up straight or move to go to the bathroom or bar. A sold-out crowd in a seated venue feels thrilling and tribal; in a standing room-only place, it's scary.
The problem is the ripple effect this creates. If someone falls, five concentric rings of people around also lose their balance. If someone gets in a fight, five people around get inadvertently elbowed. This happened over and over again, but there was no escape; I was already in the club's mezzanine. Legal capacity is one thing; comfortable capacity for patrons buying $10 well cocktails is another. Revolution should consider lowering the number of ticket-buyers that constitutes a sold-out show.
Amid all of this, Saves the Day played on. The band has been sort of disparagingly called "the Chris Conley Show," as Conley, the frontman and principle songwriter, is now the only remaining member, more than a decade in. For a while, he seemed to have a stable drummer and bassist in, respectively, Durijah Lang and Manuel Carrero of Glassjaw. It was with them he played his last show at Revolution
, in May of last year.
Last night, he had a new lineup again. Guitarist Arun Bali, who replaced longtime collaborator David Soloway last year, was there again, but the two other guys were new, apparently former members of Hidden in Plain View
. Replacements again? Either Conley is bad at picking bandmates, or something drives them away.
Whatever the case, he himself was in pretty good form, looking cleaner, happier, and even a little thinner than at his last show here. The set ran through classics like "Shoulder to the Wheel," "Holly Hocks, Forget Me Nots," and "Anywhere With You." The band can't seem to escape the shadow of its 2000 crossover disc, Stay What You Are, though. The songs from it were the best received: "Freakish," "Firefly," and especially "At Your Funeral." They deserve credit, though, for still playing newer material, which was still enthusiastically received.
The band of the hour, New Found Glory, didn't take the stage for nearly 45 minutes after that. No idea what they were setting up, as their gear is basic and the only stage set was a large banner blow-up of the logo from their 2000 self-titled album. This tour celebrates its 10th anniversary. And although New Found Glory tours regularly and last year released a well-received disc, Not Without a Fight, those looking for a nostalgia trip last night got one. Starting with "Better Off Dead," the band followed recent anniversary tour routine and powered through the album track-by-track.
They sounded fine, but it didn't really matter too much. Enthusiasm got the best of many in the crowd. There was a fight by the second song (not the evening's first), and a crush of people towards the mezzanine railings and stage rendered a lot of the show invisible for the vertically challenged. Still, whoever went got ot say they were there, right? But maybe next time, everyone involved should consider booking the band into the Fillmore Miami Beach or even the Pompano Beach Amphitheatre. There's too much outsized South Floridian pride in this act to be contained in a club.
Personal Bias: Everyone who was around the South Florida punk scene in the late 90s has at least a second-degree connection to New Found Glory, right?
Random Detail: Hellogoodbye's Kline kind of won me over later by playing Mortal Kombat with fans at his band's merch booth.
By the Way: When did so many merch people start asking for tips? No offense but, is getting the right size T-shirt really a transaction that hinges on particularly good service?