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A small state of chaos has broken out in Cardiff Student Union’s Great Hall tonight. It’s the last night of Brand New’s largely sold out UK tour and for a change it’s not the crowd conducting this sort of behaviour but rather the band and crew.
The Xcerts are playing to a fairly full room as we arrive, The Scottish trio are treating the crowd to their endearing simple pop/grunge/punk it’s hard to pigeonhole them as they work through a set that is highly professional while at the same time coming across as extremely humble. Songs like ‘Slackerpop’ are both catchy and raw and performed with a desperate urgency that seems to reflect their hardworking sensibilities. The set is crisp and smooth, until the chaos starts up. Just a taste of what is to come, missiles are launched from side stage everything from inflatable sheep to drum cases reign down upon the threesome until they are barely able to finish the last song the side stage rebel rousers even take in a spot of thievery as drum shells and cymbals are stolen away. Nevertheless, it’s the start of what is to become a highly entertaining evening.

I Am The Avalanche bound on the stage looking to incite yet more rebel rousery, pounding through their set of punk rock anthems, though only being able to pull the vigour out of a small section of the crowd; the movement they are demanding is somewhat limited at best. Set highlight ‘The Brooklyn Dodgers’, sees the band pull out an earnest portrayal of old New York gentlemen a song rather easier to accept than other subject matter they choose to exhibit including a song about a grave digger murdering his wife. The set is tight but doesn’t really ever get the crowd’s full attention, that is until the side stage riot resumes. Rather surprisingly this time led by Brand New themselves and frontman Lacy who launches beer cans toward the defensive group.

Brand New are on top form. It’s the last night of tour and though Lacy’s throat is clearly a little raw it’s no less powerful. Benefiting from the fact they are not promoting a new release, the band plays a crowd pleasing set of hits from all four of their highly regarded albums. For a band and particularly a frontman who are often criticised for taking themselves too seriously, it’s amazing to see the group having so much fun and in Lacy’s case being so vocal and thankful. The whole night feels as though we’ve stumbled into a Brand New jam session though this is no bad thing the band are really giving it some and taking the audience along for the ride older songs like ‘Mix Tape’ see members switching instruments and are just as well received as later big numbers such as ‘Sowing Seasons’.

There’s no time for any of the slow acoustic numbers tonight, which is somewhat disappointing, but on the large scale of things doesn’t really matter. As Lacy confesses, “I know we can be a hard band to love sometimes” you can’t help but fall for them even more. The set is well chosen moving through the years like a highlights reel and touching base with all that make Brand New who they are.

Of course the Chaos the band had earlier incited returns when the whole crew reign down litter and missiles as the finale builds to a crashing climax as Lacy leaps into the crowd and the night is brought crashing to a halt as he all but destroys the drum kit. A fitting end to a great night and you can only imagine brilliant tour.

Words: Adam Hooper
Photos: Laura Palmer