"Pop Punk's Not Dead Tour"
When New Found Glory lead guitarist Chad Gilbert told the crowd, "We have a 'no asshole rule' tonight -- we deal with enough assholes every day, so let's not be assholes to each other tonight," he was preaching to the pop punk choir. By the time he and the rest of the hometown heroes had gone on stage, the extremely wild crowd had perfected the art of being careless and courteous for more than four hours. Somehow, despite all the crowd surfing, piling on, and moshing, not a single fight broke out.
It was probably that hard-core punk sense of brotherly love that NFG and all the supporting bands sing about that kept everyone from losing their cool. Add to that, Revolution's security forces had made bringing crowded surfers to safety their mission for the night. The five giant men in yellow polos were on constant watch. They fished fawning young girls, spastic skinny dudes, and massive muscle heads from the crowd with professionalism and pleasure.
The early show officially started with Wu-Tang's "C.R.E.A.M." pumping through the P.A. California's This Time Next Year came on right after and threw the crowd a heavy hardcore breakdown. As is usually the case at pop punk shows, hardcore breakdowns and sports jerseys don't mean angry music. Even though frontman Pete Dowdalls was vaulting lithely like a gymnast all over the stage, the intensity of their stage antics far surpassed the rage in their music. The crowd latched on to their 1997 styled emo/screamo anthems, and the pit was in full swing, 20 minutes into the night.
Jersey's Man Overboard looked like half of a hardcore band forced three kids from the science club to join their group. Even though they had three guitarists, the music was bass-heavy and there was little audible reason for so many strings to be onstage. Despite their differences in physical appearance, all members were stomping violently. The contrast between cofrontman Zac Eiesenstein's Geek Squad swag and cofrontman Nik Bruzzese's angry-bouncer vibe gave the feeling that two entirely different bands were on stage. Let it be known, the crowd didn't give a shit about any of this, as they just kept on bouncing and slamming joyfully to the music.
When the Wonder Years from Philly took the stage, the chaos of night grew exponentially. Thanks to frontman Dan "Soupy" Campbell's wild and scary stage presence, the punk had finally arrived. Looking like a young Tom Green, he was rocking jazz hands and a power stance that would make Axl Rose jealous. When he told the crowd, "Everybody jumps!" well, everybody jumped.
By our count, everyone on the floor got kicked in the head at least twice during their brutal set. Musically, it was still the same kind of hardcore riffing with melodic choruses that we'd expect from a band on this bill, but their borderline insane performance -- Campbell spent a good deal of one song punching the stage and slapping his head -- gave the night a true sense of danger.
Walnut Creek's Set Your Goals' dueling frontmen Matt Wilson and Jordan Brown are the Laurel and Hardy of pop punk. One dude is huge and intimidating, and the other is little and spry. When Wilson -- the little one -- asked the crowd if he could get "an Arsenio for every band on this tour? Woof! Woof! Woof!" The crowd just stared at him in confusion. Granted, Arsenio Hall's hit show was on for only the first two years of most of the crowd's life.
Their set was a little more of the same hardcore part, followed by pop part, followed by hardcore part formula of the night. This formula was exactly what the crowd wanted. As they chugged through their set, the girls in the crowd sang along, wagging their fingers at the band, and the bros in the crowd shouted in unison as they smushed the roof.
The stars of the show, New Found Glory, took about the 30 minutes before getting onstage. When the curtains were drawn, the stage was empty; a few seconds later, they sprinted onstage as they started playing "Hit or Miss" off their debut EP, Nothing Gold Can Stay. The crowd's enthusiasm, which was already at a ridiculously high level, was ludicrously wild. NFG punched through hit after hit, and seriously, they have a lot of hits -- especially at home.
This Broward County crowd was full of pride and joy, and with good reason. Besides this being a homecoming for sorts for New Found Glory, they really are an amazing band live. They don't hop among punk genres; they take elements from all of them and weave them together into perfectly catchy aggressive gems. The entire band seemed 100 percent into it, and as they bounced all over the stage with their wireless mics and guitars, they didn't hit a bum note. If they did, we're sure this crowd would've loved them anyways.