It’s been just a little bit of time since Australia’s last dalliance with New Found Glory occurred, with the last time they were seen in Down Under being for the late Soundwave back in 2015. But this month, the Floridian pop-punkers have graced us with their presence by (thankfully) foregoing nearly all songs bar one from their new album, ‘Makes Me Sick’, and opting instead to bring their 20th-anniversary tour to Aussie punters, performing many of their older, classic albums in full for hordes of adoring fans. And who says that nostalgia doesn’t sell? No one, that’s fucking who!
For New Found Glory’s second night in Melbourne this week for this current headline tour, they were performing 2004’s ‘Catalyst’ and 2009’s ‘Not Without A Fight’, and I was more than happy to indulge in my youth with these two albums over their more recent material. However, before that, we have a solid up and coming local act to discuss first…
Opening up the night’s proceedings were Sydney locals, Stand Atlantic, who I had never heard until this very night. Now, I tried to make an effort and listen to them prior to showing up at The Corner but I left my headphones at home and really wanted to avoid being that motherfucker on the train who plays music out loud like an inconsiderate twat. So there I was, propped against the “much loved” and “widely admired” pillar* that stands in the smack dead centre of the Corner Hotel’s dance-floor area, as the four piece took to the stage and kicked things off with a real bang.
The very first thing I noticed about Stand Atlantic was that they seemed to be having fun. Like, a lot of it. I know right, it seems like such an obvious thing to say but there was a stark difference to the way these guys presented themselves from the usual support acts slots you see on such tours. Whereas often times there’s a mixture of nerves, travelling, and inexperience that plays a huge part in a support band looking rather dull and lifeless when compared with the headliners. That was not the case here at all, however. The second thing I noticed about this trio was that they were really good. Like, really fucking good! Though they were playing what most would call a run of the mill Aussie pop-punk sound (not unlike peers in With Confidence and so frith), but they sure as shit played it well! The band was tight and well-formed throughout their entire set, seemingly never missing a beat whilst pulling all of the intense punches to perfectly translate their big choruses and catchy vocal and guitar hooks into the live setting for the jam-packed Richmond crowd.
Please keep an eye on Stand Atlantic, ‘cause if they play their cards (and instruments) right, big things are sure to come. Their new EP ‘Sidewinder‘ lands on September 15th via Rude Records and we’ll see if that release indeed leads this local band to such future fruitful success.
It wasn’t too long now before the lights dropped away and an old-timey 1960’s song sounded off from the PA, all before disintegrating into vocalist Jordan Pundik’s shouting away into the mic as New Found Glory took to the stage; unleashing the fierce and infectious opener of ‘Truck Stop Blues’ from ‘Not Without A Fight’ in the process. This undeniable banger is a fireball of non-stop energy and for myself, it hits to the real core of what this band is all about: fun, explosive and catchy-as-all-hell pop-punk. The chorus got belted out by everyone within the room, seemingly silencing Pundik’s own loud, high-register vocals in the process.
It was a hell of a start to one hell of a set.
As you can tell just from the opener, the two albums that the band were set to play – ‘Catalyst‘ and ‘Not Without A Fight‘ – were being mashed together and shuffled up. I wasn’t sure how to feel about this move at first, as it could have come off as messy, but honestly, I can say that it works really well. There was not one break between their two sets and it allowed the band to create a much richer dynamic throughout their set by pairing up thematically and structurally similar songs next to one another – even if they were from two different records.
Now, I’m a huge ‘Catalyst‘ fan myself – right to my very core! It’s pretty much a perfect pop-punk album from start to finish so you can be rest assured that whenever any of those songs were played, I was well and truly amongst it. Tracks like ‘Truth of My Youth‘ and ‘At Least I’m Known For Something‘ elicited some utterly beautiful moments that my twelve-year old self would have lost his fucking mind over. And getting to sing these songs at the top of my lungs, at the bookend of my teens no less, surrounded by people who felt the same way and looked just as impassioned as I did was a really touching moment of earnest love and youthful nostalgia.
‘Doubt Full‘ and ‘Failures Not Flattering‘ also sit extremely high on my favourite list of New Found Glory songs. It was at the point that they played the latter did I send myself deeper into the heart of the crowd and engage in some dumb but good old fashioned push-pits. All the while four of pop-punks greatest heroes run around on stage in a frenzy right before us? Near perfection, I tell ya. The band were absolutely wild from start to finish in terms of their kinetic energy, dripping in sweat as veins popped out of their skin, screaming along to the lyrics themselves and hitting their instruments as ferociously as they could. It’s almost as if the longer this band goes on, the more energetic and intense their live shows get!
While I can say that I do quite enjoy ‘Not Without A Fight‘, my praise for that record pales in the wake of my adoration for ‘Catalyst‘. I think it’s a solid record with some good singles but it’s never really been my “go-to” NFG album. There’s nothing bad about them, I just feel they lack the extra “wow” factor that the ‘Catalyst‘ cuts do. So I was a little… adrift, shall we say, for some songs that I didn’t quite know nor fully remember but man were they still impressive.
Although, I would be fucking lying to you if I didn’t let you know that ‘Don’t Let Her Pull You Down‘ was out of this world. Goddamnit, the gang vocal and sing-along parts on that song get real loud when you cram a few hundred like-minded people into a room waiting for that chorus to hit! It still stands as one of the bands best songs to date and will always be a staple in their catalogue for as long as they are together.
Also from the same album, ‘Listen To Your Friends‘ was easily one of the best songs of the night what with its incredible chorus, pristine pop-punk structure and blistering energy. The push-pit for that track alone was an intense affair with my face hitting the pole in the middle of the room more than twice (I’m fine, thanks for asking). But my love for pop-punk didn’t stop me from singing along to a song about getting assaulted by a less then desirable girl on a date.
The band wrapped things up with what is perhaps a seminal song for the group – ‘All Downhill From Here‘. After all, they aren’t idiots and they know how to build a strong set list. This 13-year-old anthem calls for everything from sing-a-longs, to push-pits, to moshing, throwing your arms around the person next to you in the corniest way possible and so much more. As the classic tune came to a close for its final chorus, Pundik outstretched his mic to the adoring crowd in a kind gesture that asked us to sing the words we all knew and loved as loud as we could at the band. And with the way they played tonight – loud, energetic and impassioned – how could we not oblige them in that?
PC: Our beardiest pal and pop-punk lover, Digital Beard Photography.
*That was sarcasm, fuck that pillar and all that it stands for.