Brand New / Thrice / meWithoutYou @ Atlantic City 12/1

December 2, 2007

The House of Blues in Atlantic City is always an interesting venue: the crowd is usually full of drunk males in their mid-twenties, and the crowd usually doesn’t know too much about pits, instead just pushing into each other over and over. While this was certainly true this cold December evening, it didn’t do much to distract from three bands who played extremely solid sets.

meWithoutYou opened the evening to a crowd that didn’t know much of their material. They played much from Brother, Sister, including songs such as “C-Minor”. It is my opinion that their spoken-type vocals are usually very strong lyrically, but the delivery gets boring on the albums after awhile. Luckily, the band is completely tight live, and singer Aaron Weiss performs with his entire heart, seemingly holding conversations on stage with people who aren’t there. Drummer Richard Mazzotta didn’t stop through the entire set, as the band seamlessly transitioned from each song to the next. The band played for about a half-hour before exiting from the stage, thanking the crowd numerous times for listening to them as they did.

Thrice took the stage next, surprisingly opening with The Artist In The Ambulance‘s “Stare at the Sun”. Although most of the crowd was certainly in attendance for Brand New, Thrice and Brand New fans tend to overlap, so the crowd was very into Thrice as well. “Firebreather”, one of Thrice’s heaviest songs to date, followed before the band kicked into 2002’s “Kill Me Quickly”, an extremely energetic tune that certainly kept the crowd moving. The band didn’t slow up, continuing with “Silhouette”.

Some technical difficulties would follow through the set, beginning with setup issues before the band played “Digital Sea” live. It was extremely peculiar to see singer Dustin Kensrue on stage without a guitar–he instead used some sort of digital effects box and microphone. The song is certainly much stronger live than on the album, and Dustin’s energy and passion for it seem to be the clear reason. The full setlist:

Stare at the Sun
Kill Me Quickly
Digital Sea
Burn the Fleet
The Artist in the Ambulance
Flags of Dawn
The Whaler
Don’t Tell and We Won’t Ask
The Messenger
The Earth Will Shake

I had never heard Vheissu b-side “Flags of Dawn” live; the band played the song incredibly, however–certainly better than the song is recorded. In fact, aside from “Firebreather”, all of the evening’s Alchemy Index songs were new to me live, and I was very impressed. Guitarist Teppei Teranishi took over keyboard duties when needed–and did so perfectly.

Surprisingly, the band played four cuts from their 2003 major-label debut , including “Don’t Tell and We Won’t Ask”, a song Dustin introduced the song as a song “[the band] all love[s]”. Thrice played staple “Deadbolt” before ending with “The Earth Will Shake”, which may be my favorite Thrice song. The song has always received great treatment live, but something about the song this evening made it even heavier than normal. Perhaps the bass and drums were simply clicking perfectly, or Dustin’s vocal delivery was better than normal, but the song sounded the best it ever has.

Thrice did play thirteen songs as direct support to Brand New, but the band certainly needs to get out on a headlining tour to support their latest disc so that they can play for a longer time. An incredible setlist, and arguably the best performance of the evening, Thrice could not have performed any better at their first show ever in Atlantic City.

It took much longer than normal, but Long Island’s Brand New finally took the stage late into the evening. Opening with “Welcome To Bangkok” the band put out a great vibe and played extremely tight. “Sowing Season” and “Millstone” followed before “Sic Transit Gloria..Glory Fades”, each song sounding very tight. The band utilized two drummers and some extra percussion instruments for the end of “Millstone”–a trend the band hasn’t bucked since starting it about this time last year.

The band actually played eleven of the twelve tracks from The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me:

Welcome To Bangkok
Sowing Season
Sic Transit Gloria..Glory Fades
The Shower Scene
Me Vs. Maradona Vs. elvis
Why Don’t You Find Out For Yourself (Morrissey Cover)
Not The Sun
Jaws Theme Swimmng
You Won’t Know

It was great to hear “The Shower Scene”, the best song from 2001’s Your Favorite Weapon. “Me Vs. Mardona Vs. Elvis” was exceptionally powerful this evening for some reason, and “Limousine” was as strong as ever. Guitarist Vin Accardi and a guitar tech wrestled during “Archers”–I guess his guitar part isn’t quite that essential.

Jesse performed “Why Don’t You Find Out For Yourself” from Morrissey’s amazing Vauxhall and I album before the full-band played “Not The Sun”, the only song from their 2006 effort I had yet to hear live. Along with a few other songs from that album, I could do without hearing it again live.

Unfortunately, the band only managed to throw in a few Deja Entendu songs, leaving out some excellent songs in the process. The encore was essentially a waste–a weak version of “Untitled” was the last song of the evening, leaving a bitter taste in the mouth of fans who had hoped for a few more songs from something other than The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me.

Following Thrice’s performance this evening wasn’t easy by any means, but Brand New did their best. A few more older cuts would have helped a lot, and even effectively performing an encore would have made their performance seem a lot stronger. I’ll be attending the bands’ Philadelphia show December 7, it will be interesting to compare setlists and performances.