I almost expect New Found Glory's quality and consistency to drop as the years have gone by. After nine albums, various cover albums, EPs, an ungodly amount of tours, and twenty-one years as a band, you'd expect this would be about the time that a band based in the world of pop-punk and overly-caffeinated, pit-opening music would start to slow down, or maybe get a little sloppy.
You'd be incredibly wrong to think this, though. After over twenty-years as a band, New Found Glory, time and time again, prove themselves to be one of the greatest live bands of the last twenty years. Regardless of genre, size of venue, or general ranking with the music industry (they could honestly go back to playing tiny clubs, and even then, the shows would be incredible), their live show is flawless, their stage presence effervescent, and their back catalogue untarnished with time.
A massively positive trait of New Found Glory's touring habits is their ability to make impeccable choices when it comes to choosing their tour lineups. This time around, in support of the band's ninth album Makes Me Sick (released last year via Hopeless Records and produced by Aaron Sprinkle), the band chose to bring a number of other legendary "scene" acts along for the ride, including Bayside, The Movielife, and William Ryan Key (ex-vocalist of Yellowcard, who ended their twenty-year run as a band last March).
Perhaps the most anticipated set other than our headliners that evening may have been William Ryan Key, as no one in attendance had ever seen him perform in a solo environment. Key performed his entire five-song debut EP, Thirteen (released earlier this year), before treating fans to an acoustic version of the Yellowcard classic "Ocean Avenue". What was cool to me, as someone who generally pays attention to both the audience and the performer to gauge their reactions, is that a lot of people in the front new the words to Key's solo work. The EP hasn't been out for that long, and it shows the dedication of his core fan base. Additionally, his performance brought some beautiful sounds and intimacy into a relatively larger venue before the energy kicked up.
Long Island, New York's own The Movielife brought things up a notch with their brand of energetic melodic hardcore. Their half-hour set showcased their legacy within this scene, performing songs from career-defining albums like Forty Hour Train Back To Penn. Even though they were second on the bill, the people in attendance were all for it, screaming back the words as vocalist Vinnie Caruana poured his heart out into the microphone.
I also always seem to forget how much of an impact Bayside have had on the pop-punk world. They're not pop-punk in the traditional aesthetic that's now defined by the scene, but their music fits every category when examining their music: fast guitar riffs, emotive lyrics that touch on the ghost of relationships past, and sing-along-inducing choruses. Their crowd was just as full as New Found Glory's, and they're a band that could easily headline the same room and elicit a similar reaction. Vocalist/guitarist Anthony Raneri, guitarist Jack O'Shea, bassist Nick Ghanbarian, and drummer Chris Guglielmo powered through a career-spanning setlist, much to the pleasure of everyone in attendance.
A blacklight illuminates an intrinsically-detailed piece of artwork that plays as a backdrop for New Found Glory's set, as the band launch headfirst into massive hits like "All Downhill From Here", "Understatement" (my personal favorite), and "Better Off Dead". With the exception of possibly one album (?), New Found Glory played something from every official album they have in their discography. Vocalist Jordan Pundik, guitarist/backing vocalist Chad Gilbert, bassist Ian Grushka, and drummer Cyrus Bolooki, as well as Ryan Key joining in on additional guitar and keyboard duties, absolutely own whatever room they play. I could have sworn that there was so much heat in the room that the walls were beginning to drip with sweat.
Their catalogue is so overwhelmingly full of music that there was a even a point in the evening when they brought up a fan on stage to spin the "Wheel of Songs", in which a random song from throughout the band's career is picked to play on the spot. Given that there are already twenty other songs in the band's set, and the fact that they would have to already know the fourteen tracks listed on the wheel, it shows how prepared they are for anything. It's a mentality I've noticed in their band as the years have gone by, and it's why I'll continue flocking to the nearest venue, whether it be an arena or a tiny club like 924 Gilman, to see New Found Glory do what they do best.