To think, it’s been 20 years. Judging by their performance, you’d never guess. A little grayer for the wear, sure, but on October 27th, Florida pop-punkers New Found Glory performed with all the energy of men half their ages.
First things first: their opening act, the UK-based ROAM, put on one of the absolute best performances I’ve ever seen in a non-headliner.
Touring in promotion of their new full-length, Great Heights & Nosedives via Hopeless Records released that same day, when the band asked if anyone had ever heard of them, only maybe two or three people even made a peep. Yet only two songs in and the entire front row was jumping and waving their hands to songs they had never heard before.
That’s a kind of magic many seasoned bands with loyal fanbases don’t even know how to cast over a local crowd, let alone newcomers on a foreign continent. They are a band this journalist will be watching very closely, and anyone who is a fan of prime-era pop-punk should do the same!
Then, the lights dimmed. On a projector screen near the stage the audience was first presented with a brief, nostalgic show of NFG over the years. The video chronicled various points and felt oddly moving for a band generally known for being rambunctious and goofy in every aspect.
Once the band walked on stage, however, all that feeling of gentleness was chased away in an eruption of chord progressions and drum beats. Playing a myriad of songs both classic and fresh off their new album New Found Glory Makes Me Sick, NFG immediately drew the audience into a frenzy. Bodies were flying everywhere, sailing overhead and slam dancing everywhere. Meanwhile frontman Jordan Pundik literally never stopped moving–and when I say moving, I mean MOVING. He jumped and ran and flailed his hands without stopping, and seemed to enjoy every moment.
As a testament to their gratefulness to their fans, guitarist Chad Gilbert brought on one lucky fan who requested to co-sing their first major single, “Hit or Miss.” And she did. And it was glorious. And there was confetti, lots and lots of confetti.
If there is a better way to celebrate 20 years of awesomeness, I’m not aware of it.
Pop-punk sings from the heart. At least that’s the reply I’ve always used justify my near-girlish fandom of the genre. Or maybe girlish isn’t the right term. After all, my significant other vocally hates it, claiming all those bands do is whine about their girlfriends or their problems or their girlfriends’ problems or their problems with their girlfriends. And, to be fair, she’s not wrong. There is a lot of emphasis on (what I’d like to dub) Bro-Angst in that genre. Take away the musicality, and a pop punk album is pretty much a handful of usually-white dudes moaning into their pillows, “Why doesn’t she return my calls, why do my parents think I’m a failure?”
But, then again, inherently a bad thing? How many of us have been that acne-ridden, crazy with hormones, young buck faced with the reality that life will beat the hell out of you just for the giggles, sometimes? I’d like to imagine that most of us have had to deal with a special someone rejecting us because we’re grody or not at the top of whatever social pyramid is in play at any given moment. We’ve almost all had that dark falling out with our parents, where one moment they’re helping us with homework and telling us the world is our oyster, and the next they’re screaming at us for being five minutes late getting home from a date or demanding we pack our shit and leave if we don’t get a job by tomorrow. It sucks. And that’s where pop-punk comes from. It’s the soundtrack to the crappy teen movie of our lives, making things just a little more fun in the process.