Saint Paul was a little more angsty than on a usual Sunday last night, because Brand New was in town to play their (arguably) most popular album “The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me.” The legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium started to fill up at 6PM and by 7 the general admission floor was full of 20 or 30-something former emo kids. The smell of popcorn and spilled nine dollar beers filled the air as the first opener took the stage.
Modern Baseball, hailing from Philadelphia, PA, had adorned the stage with a sheet ghost and a mannequin and started off their set with a little “hello,” and jumped right into the music. After their first two songs, “Holy Ghost” and “Wedding Singer,” they brought up the aforementioned popcorn smell. “So, did anyone buy any popcorn? It’s smelled like it in here since soundcheck. I think they sell popcorn,” vocalist/guitarist Jake Ewald laughed. They finished their set, to the audience’s excitement, with “Just Another Face,” one of their most catchy and well-known songs, and a few more jokes about popcorn.
Next to grace the auditorium stage was The Front Bottoms, coming from New Jersey with a huge following of their own. They’re known for the long, narrative songs and quirky, intricate stage setups- and they didn’t disappoint in St. Paul. A full living room setup complete with a chartreuse couch and a working TV took up both sides of the stage, leaving just enough room for the four band members. When they played the first note of “The Plan (Fuck Jobs)” the crowd immediately yelled along, and the participation didn’t stop until the last song of their set “Twin Size Mattress.” Halfway through a song someone in the crowd got hurt, causing the band to stop the song altogether. “It happens. No big deal. It totally happened,” they all agreed, moving onto the next song. Before leaving the stage, vocalist Brian Sella thanked Brand New for taking them on tour and Modern Baseball for “being really cool dudes.”
After nearly 45 minutes of the crowd tightening and everyone getting a little more pushy, the lights dimmed and the stage screens came on, illuminating the band’s signature flower covered microphones. The three instrumental members of the band took the stage, followed by vocalist Jesse Lacey and lots of screams and cheers from the crowd. Although the band had promised to play their whole “Devil and God” album from beginning to end, they started off the set with a few other fan favorites like “I am a Nightmare” and “Okay I Believe You, But my Tommy Gun Don’t.” Then they exited the stage and re entered for “Sowing Season,” the first track of their now decade old album. Jesse Lacey is known to be an elusive man of very few words, so not much banter went on between songs. Before playing an instrumental outro, though, he did thank the crowd for attending their shows, buying their merch, and supporting them for so many years.
Without a true “encore,” the house lights came back on and those who had been shouting along to their favorite high school songs (and maybe even shedding the occasional tear,) filed out very slowly to wait the night away in the line at the merch table. Brand New has announced that since they are going to be “retiring” soon, although this isn’t their last tour is could very well be the last time coming through some of these Midwestern cities, so those who got to see Jesse Lacey & the gang rock one more time last night should count themselves lucky.