Rams Head Live is located in the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, MD. It's a fairly small venue - perfect for seeing this lineup.
Manchester Orchestra were first on the bill. They're a young band that's been creating a lot of online buzz lately for their mature and powerful sound. I saw them last winter with Brand New as well, and I think they've improved a lot since then. I couldn't really get into their CD, but their show now is pretty intense. Frontman Andy Hull has a good voice and knows how to interact with the crowd. They only played for about twenty minutes, but they definitely made the most of it. Set list:
Wolves at Night
Where Have You Been?
I Can Barely Breathe
Now That You're Home
Throughout the night, various members of the different bands would come onstage to play on each others' songs, which displayed a sense of community and mutual respect not often seen onstage other than the obligatory shout-outs to tourmates. Both Kevin Devine and Jesse Lacey made appearances during Manchester's set.
I had been looking forward to seeing Kevin Devine & The Goddamn Band for awhile now, as Devine's most recent CD, Put Your Ghost To Rest, is a near masterpiece of acoustic songwriting. His live show did not disappoint. It's hard to keep the attention of a crowd you're an opener for, especially when most of the time it's just you and a guitar. I can't remember all the songs he played, but the set included:
Shift Change Splits The Streets
No Time Flat
Bob Dylan cover
Holland 1945 (Neutral Milk Hotel cover)
On the last song, Lacey came out and played trombone for them. At some point there were as many as three drummers and four guitarists. It was really awesome to see.
Brand New took the stage around 10PM. Set list:
Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don't
Jaws Theme Swimming
Me Vs. Maradona Vs. Elvis
The No Seatbelt Song
The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows
Sic Transit Gloria...Glory Fades
The Boys Who Blocked His Own Shot
Good To Know That If I Ever Need Attention, All I Have To Do Is Die
Play Crack The Sky
Sowing Season (Yeah)
The Archers Bows Have Broken
You Won't Know
Welcome To Bangkok
As you can see, the only song they played from Your Favorite Weapon was The No Seatbelt Song, which was a little bit surprising; usually they will at least pull out Soco Amaretto Lime as a crowd-pleaser. However, they did perform Good To Know... and Handcuffs, both of which they rarely, if ever, play.
The best thing about a Brand New show is the intensity of the crowd. I have never seen so much energy directed toward a stage before, with people screaming and singing their hearts out. That's exactly what happens - people just pour their hearts out during the show. Brand New means so much to so many people. There were people who had been waiting in line since 8AM. That's how much love there is for this group of men. It's a powerful thing to see and to participate in.
The new songs convey themselves much more directly in live form than recorded, particularly Limousine and You Won't Know, the latter of which tends to just degenerate into Jesse screaming "You won't know" repeatedly into the mic while the rest of the band dies away. I keep using the word powerful because it's the only word that I feel can properly describe what is happening.
One might think it odd to close with Welcome To Bangkok, one of two instrumental tracks from The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me. Live, it turns into a wall of sound that builds up and up and up and finally crashes. To perform it, every member of Brand New, Manchester Orchestra, and The Goddamn Band came onstage and wailed away on an instrument or two. There was so much going on, it was hard to know where to look. Four drummers, six or seven guitarists, eventually people just began to overturn instruments and play on other ones until it came time for the song to fade away. It was probably the most incredible thing I've ever seen at a show.
Technically, Brand New was very accurate, and they've begun to enjoy themselves onstage again. Lacey and Accardi headbutt each other, when Accardi is not in convulsions on the floor. Lacey keeps the banter to a minimum, which is kind of a welcome change from most bands who want to tell stories between songs.
Overall, a very successful show. I would love to see Manchester or Devine again if possible, and Brand New remains one of the best live acts I have ever had the pleasure of going to see.