For today’s installment of Throwback Thursday, I’m taking you all the way back to one of the all-time wildest shows I have ever witnessed, which was Brand New at Gabe’s Oasis in Iowa City, Iowa, on October 26, 2002. To set the stage a little: Brand New were out on tour with the Movielife as one of two opening acts (the other being Fairweather) in support of their debut album, Your Favorite Weapon, but at the same time the tour was happening, “Jude Law And A Semester Abroad” was blowing up on MTV2, causing the band to gain a shit-ton of attention very, very quickly. Smash cut to 10 days into the tour, when a sold-out Gabe’s Oasis welcomed Brand New with very open arms. Nothing I can write here can better describe what I first wrote about it 13 years ago:
“Brand New took the stage, and the place got instantaneously more crowded. Frontman Jesse took the stage and began strumming “Mix Tape,” and as he built to the song’s crescendo, the rest of the band took the tiny stage and the crowd surged forward. For the next 40 minutes, we were all in the palm of Brand New’s hand, as they blasted through most every song on their debut CD “Your Favorite Weapon”, and they even played “Moshi Moshi” off their split with Safety In Numbers. With each song the crowd became more intense, and the band more overwhelmed by the massive outpouring of support.”
Below is a video of the first two songs of Brand New’s set, “Mix Tape” and “The Shower Scene.” You can see the crowd beginning to cut loose at the end of the video, but it was nothing compared with what was to come.
Again, here are my words from 13 years ago:
“About halfway through the band’s set, people started climbing onto the stage, simply to avoid the almost out of control crowd. Within another song, the crowd onstage had doubled to roughly 30 people [for those who have never been to Gabe’s Oasis, 30 people + a band + equipment = a really fucking crowded stage]. As the band’s sound grew sloppier [they couldn’t even see each other on stage], the audience’s singing along grew tighter and tighter, and the antics in the crowd grew stranger.
Along the top of Gabe’s Oasis are a bunch of steel girders to reinforce the roof. The ceiling is low, however, so these can theoretically be reached if one was so inclined. Well, a lot of people felt so inclined, and began to swing monkey bars style across the entire venue, as well as hang themselves upside down by their feet and other crazy shenanigans. I merely just stood back and uttered “Holy Shit” repeatedly as I watched dozens of kids take over Brand New’s stage, and handfuls more climb the ceilings in order to sing into the mics… This show was reaching a breaking point.
That point was reached 2 songs later with the set closer “Jude Law and a Semester Abroad.” Jesse and Vin just gave up playing about halfway through [they had already given up singing during the song prior (“Logan to Government Center”)] and began to scale the scaffolding on the ceiling as well, leaving the band without any guitars. Did it matter? Not one bit. The talented rhythm duo of Garrett and Brian held down the proverbial fort, as the hundreds of kids in the crowd finished the song for them. After all band members were returned to the stage, they said a gracious goodnight by stating “Seriously, guys, this is the best show we’ve ever played. Thank you so much.”
Thanks to the magic of YouTube, you can watch that insane performance of “Jude Law And A Semester Abroad” above. Note Lacey making the following two remarks: “This is the strangest thing I have ever been involved in in my entire life,” and “You guys are the best crowd we’ve ever played to in our life, hands down.” I don’t know if he still feels that way 13 years later, but I’ve seen 1,000-plus shows since then and I know I continue to hold this show in as high a regard as I can. Enjoy!