There are a bunch of bands that come and go in your life. There are some that are there for a song, a day, maybe even a year and then there are some that are there for you throughout your life. New Found Glory is one of those bands that has been with me through thick and thin and for decades at this point. Seeing a band like that leaves you with writer’s block and nothing but rambling on about passion and love for music so please bear with me while I stumble through this post.
Arizona based Doll Skin was up first. The only band on the bill that I had never heard of before, I didn’t know what to expect but as soon as they took the stage I knew they were the perfect way to start the night. Their grungy pop-punk sound rang through the sold out venue with ease. Doll Skin became a thing in 2013 and only have one full length album but don’t let that fool you. These women have it all– the look, the sound, the energy– and I can already tell that they will be a force to be reckoned with in the scene and that their positive attitudes and strong work ethic will shoot them to the top in no time.
The Early November is one of those bands that, although I don’t listen to them much any more these days, they left a lasting imprint on my heart so when they took the stage I definitely low key lost my mind. It has been years since I had seen these guys but the second I saw vocalist Arthur “Ace” Enders take the stage, there was a sense of calm and comfort that rushed over me. My brother and I sniffled out way through their set which mainly consisted of the songs we grew up on. Their music may be mostly slow and somber but there was an undeniable sense of energy that radiated from the like-minded souls around me that had grown up on this music. Even though time has passed, nothing has really changed with this band. Ace looks the same, he sounds the same and the songs all still hit you right in the feels. Although they were just an opener, it almost felt like the world stopped as they played and the audience sang along. I honestly hope that the band felt what I felt because that would ensure a headlining tour in the near future and that is exactly what so many people need right now.
Following The Early November was Real Friends. Although I may not quite get the music or call myself a huge fan, I get why they have such a cult-like following. They are part of this new wave of pop-punk music out there and although it will never be as good as the early 2000’s when bands like The Early November and, headliner of the night, New Found Glory were kings, I appreciate that bands like Real Friends are keeping the scene alive and constantly innovating within the scene. Just like the two sets before them, Real Friends had an undeniable sense of energy about them and got the crowd moving. From crowd surfers to a small mosh pit that had opened up in the center of the floor, people were eating up every word and every note the band was putting out there. There was a sense of conviction that came with every word. That conviction wasn’t just seen on the stage but also in the audience. People were shouting along to the lyrics that meant absolutely everything to them and, although I couldn’t relate as I don’t know all of the words, I could relate to that feeling of watching the band that has saved your life and that’s a feeling that I wish I could have every single night of my life.
Headlining the night was the almighty New Found Glory. Whereas I watched people living out the most important songs of their life during Real Friends’ set, New Found Glory’s set was my chance to live out my childhood and the songs that meant everything to me. I remember growing up and catching these guys in local clubs in Des Moines, Iowa. They always left the audience with sets that were full of energy and passion. It may be twenty years later but not much has changed with this band. They still show their power with a sense of ease and passion by playing the songs that, although twenty plus years old, are still relateable to the fans that have been with them since the beginning.
The first couple of songs of their set were a complete blur for me. I was living out a life long dream of being able to capture photos of the band from the photo pit (the space between the stage and the barrier that keeps the audience from the stage). I spent the first three songs in complete awe as I switched back and forth from screaming along to the words to trying to get quality pictures. Eventually I had no choice but to give up, put my camera away and get lost in the lights and sounds going on around me. I jumped into the crowd and instantly let go of everything while screaming along to songs that have been a staple in my daily playlist for years. It’s truly a magical thing to revert back to your angsty teenage years while keeping in mind just how far you have come. When I watched New Found Glory growing up, I honestly never dreamed I would be one of the cool kids in the photo pit but there I was. I never dreamed that I would be able to do this night after night but here I am. It was truly just an absolutely blurry dream.
New Found Glory’s set list was perfection. With nine albums out, there was no way they were going to play everything that I wanted to hear because that would have taken over ten hours but they did a great job of mixing old and new songs with a couple of covers and picking mostly upbeat songs that kept the energy in the venue alive and kicking. From a cover from Frozen and one from The Greatest Showman, NFG made it clear that although they are an older band, there can keep up with times and will continue to be relevant for years to come. The longevity of NFG has already been proven year after year and it will continue for many years to come which makes me so excited for the future of this band.
Last night was one of those nights that I will not soon forget but also can’t quite remember. A blur of drinks, nostalgia, friends and excitement, it was a perfect night and the perfect way to spend a Friday night.
Venue: Varsity Theater
Sausage Fest Meter- 4 out of 10
Average Age of the Crowd- 29
Crowd Surfers- 17 counted but I’m sure there were more
Nostalgia-Ability- 10 out of 10
Stage Divers- 0
Broken Bones- 0
Spotted Flying Through The Air- Bodies
Drunkards Taken Out By Security- 0
Celebrity Sightings- None
Overall Score- 9.8 out of 10
Show on Deck- TBA
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