With Modest Mouse
Verizon Theatre, Grand Prairie
Friday, July 22, 2016
So deciding to host your first-ever outdoor concert in the middle of July doesn't exactly fit with conventional wisdom — or, well, common sense. But for Verizon Theatre and AEG, it worked surprisingly well on Friday night as they debuted The Field @ Verizon Theatre with the already unconventional double-headlining bill of Brand New and Modest Mouse.
This was the first time the venue and AEG hosted a concert outdoors on the property and Brand New proved to be the perfect experiment. Singer Jesse Lacey's powerful screams echoed into the open air without being muffled indoors.
Overall, the setting was a successful first run as the stage was grand, the sound was robust and the amenities were plentiful. These included food trucks, water stations, plenty of bathroom options and cash and credit options for food and drinks. Despite the sweltering heat as doors opened, The Field @ Verizon Theatre showed tremendous potential to be a big player in North Texas’ music festival scene.
The bands, two early 2000s hit makers, have been swapping headlining duties throughout this joint tour. In Grand Prairie, Brand New got top billing. That meant that Modest Mouse were left to kick things off before the full force of the day's heat had diminished. The Portland indie rockers skipped out on hits like “Float On,” “Ocean Breathes Salty,” and “Gravity Rides Everything,” opting instead for deep cuts like “Spitting Venom,” “Pups to Dust” and “The Devil’s Workday,” with a few songs from 2015's Strangers to Ourselves mixed in as well.
The eight-piece band rotated between bass, violin, trumpet and keys, but it was lead singer Isaac Brock who carried the band’s energy. His shirt, drenched in sweat by show's end, was evidence enough that no effort was spared in his band’s hourlong set. Afterwards, it was clear that the two bands’ fanbases don’t overlap too much, as a good portion of the crowd once Modest Mouse played had made their exit.
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But that doesn't mean Brand New aren't still heavy hitters in the world of emo music. Once Lacey appeared by himself for a solo performance of "Soco Amaretto Lime," the final track of the band’s debut album, Your Favorite Weapon, the large crowd that was left instantly sang back every angsty word of the emo classic. Then, with the full band in tow, the loud, energetic “Sink” from 2009’s Daisy proved the perfect song to kickstart the set.
"Sink" set the tone for what was to follow, a far more intense rendition of the song than its recorded version. It bordered on chaos, leaving Lacey and backup vocalist/lead guitarist Vincent Accardi screaming lyrics and writhing about the stage. The band went on to perform an assortment of tracks from their three most recent albums, such as “Jesus,” “Brothers,” “Sowing Season” and “Limousine,” while passing on any more material from their seminal debut. Not surprisingly, the run of songs from Deja Entendu generated the greatest fervor from the crowd.
One important question remained unanswered on Friday night, however. Merch for this tour has included the ominous branding, "Brand New 2000 - 2018," causing speculation that the Long Island quartet — which has toured more than usual in recent years, and seemingly become more comfortable with being in the public eye — may be nearing the end of the road. Lacey's comment at an early tour stop that, "We're done. Oh yeah, we're done," has only increased speculation.
There's been no comment since, and on Friday Lacey offered further indications of what might lie ahead. But if the Friday night marked the last time Brand New will ever perform in North Texas, it made for a pretty strong farewell.