New Found Glory: 20 March 2010 – Anaheim, CA

Saves The Day

“Tell me about your first kiss. Tell me you haven’t already forgotten it.” Heaven knows how many adolescent love letters in the early aughts had those words scrawled all over them. How many mix tapes or CDs (yes, we’re talking pre-Podlist era) reminisced about “The time we realized ‘Thriller’ was our favorite song?” OK, so it wasn’t Keats, but for lovelorn kids growing up at the dawn of the new millennium, New Found Glory was as good as gold.

The Florida five-piece emerged when the sincerest emotions in the mainstream music world were sentiments like “I did it all for the nookie.” NFG filled a void for Warped Tour recruits that were too puny for the mosh pits, but weren’t as schmaltzy as boy “bands” like *NSYNC. They brought an element of fun to the emo-pop genre, which has since gotten rather bloated or overly theatrical thanks to Pete Wentz, Inc.

What a blessing it is to still have NFG around, on this, the 10th anniversary of their major-label, self-titled debut (Drive-Thru). Sure, they’ve gotten up there in years (the late 20s/early 30s are geriatric for pop-punkers), and they’ve experienced more adult situations than their teen selves sang about. But this tour served as a collection of whimsical snapshots in their prolific career, as well as the lives of fans in their mid-20s who still love feeling like “Today is the first day of your life.”

When bands of any genre perform their classic albums in their entirety, it’s transcendent. Some gigs fly on aural weirdness and psychotropic drugs (see Roger Waters doing Dark Side of the Moon). At this one, skinny pierced creatures flew over a sea of heads and into the waiting arms of burly security guards — despite a House of Blues policy that prohibited moshing and crowd surfing. For these NFG enthusiasts, it was worth the risk, if it meant having singer Jordan Pundik stick his microphone in their faces and let them belt out choruses. (Guitarist Chad Gilbert was willing to do the same with his instrument, but some greedy ladies in the pit tried yanking it from him).

From the opening riff of “Better Off Dead” until the lift-a-glass anthem “Ballad for the Lost Romantics”, the energy never subsided. Pundik was absolutely soaked in sweat, as were plenty of the ticket holders. Tubby bassist Ian Grushka gleefully patted his shirtless gut, a sort of sumo-esque way of showing his appreciation for the cheering, and the longevity, in a scene that usually doesn’t trust anyone over 30. It may not be apparent to anyone outside of Alternative Press readers, but New Found Glory’s influence is vastly felt today. A testament to that was supporting act Fireworks. Their whiplash sound and choreographed jumping all came from the pages of the NFG guidebook to punk-pop. Although, they one-upped their elders on the beefcake factor when, inexplicably, they brought onstage a member of the U.S. World Cup soccer team, and he took off his top.

Hometown heroes Hellogoodbye provided a flameout set afterward. The ukulele-driven ballads agitated the audience, and man-waif Forrest Klein’s “Golly gee!” persona fell flat with this particular crowd. A few Seinfeld sound bites and an obligatory go at his Auto-Tuned hit “Here (In Your Arms)” eased the tension. Emo brothers in arms Saves the Day also graced the stage. Like NFG, their legacy was proven at the House of Blues, each song becoming a rabid hymn to which everyone chimed in. What a genuine testament to the night it was when Chris Conley (now 30, but not looking a day over legal drinking age) sang, “This song will become the anthem of your underground.” As revelers thrashed about and screamed back “At Your Funeral’s” immortal lyrics, guitarist Arun Bali walked over to Conley and goofily rested his head on his shoulder.

Camaraderie rang loudly and proudly throughout New Found Glory’s concert. In addition to the 12 tracks off their self-titled album, they blasted through another five or so from their later releases. The night ended with the bros-before-hoes rocker “My Friends Over You”, off 2002’s Sticks and Stones (Drive-Thru). They may have grown up, but NFG haven’t grown tired.