Words and photos by Kelsey Baker
Assistant Music Director
In biblical references, a blood moon can represent the resurrection of Christ, but last Tuesday it represented New Found Glory’s (NFG) “Resurrection” and served as a second coming of pop punk. On the eve of the total lunar eclipse, the night could not have been more suited for the Fifth Annual Glamour Kills Tour at Emo’s East in Austin, as the big, burgundy moon illuminated the city.
The fourth show of the Glamour Kills Tour doubled as a CD release for NFG’s newest album, “Resurrection,” almost exactly 15 years after their studio debut. As the title suggests, NFG’s latest album not only resurrected their notability, but also a return-to-form that resembles everything good about early 2000s pop punk.
But before NFG paraded the stage, openers Candy Hearts, Fireworks and We Are The In Crowd properly prepped the audience with their high-octane performances. I must commend Taylor Jardine, the singer from We Are The In Crowd, on her dominating stage presence. She owned that stage as she roared her relentless lyrics. With a voice and style that felt like a combination of Hayley Williams and Kelly Clarkson, goosebumps definitely appeared (and I don’t much care for them, so that says a lot).
It was hard to deny the charm of the openers, as a handful of gawking teens seemed to know each and every word to all the songs, but the majority of the crowd, who seemed to be in their late twenties and early to mid-thirties, did not seem to be as enthused as the underage railhuggers. As NFG began to set up sound, I noticed more middle-aged faces emerge from the smoker’s corner outside.
While waiting, I witnessed a guy in his late thirties with his two teenage daughters gratefully accept the return of his brand-spanking-new “Resurrection” vinyl from Ian Grushka, the bassist of NFG, who kindly took the guy’s record to get signed by the rest of the band. Seriously, this guy almost sounded indebted to the band for the rest of his life, judging by the brief conversation I overheard between him and Grushka.
My adolescent side began to show as singer Jordan Pundik charged onto the stage to start off NFG’s set with the first track and single off the new album, “Selfless.” But somebody was missing from the line-up.
NFG has always been a band of five, with the exception of a couple of touring keyboardists, and all of a sudden, I was watching a quartet. Steve Klein, who played rhythm guitar for NFG since 1997, was gone. In December 2013, NFG announced their departure with Klein the same day that he was arraigned in court for multiple counts of lewd acts with a minor and possession of child pornography.
Whoa, talk about starting a new chapter for the band. Since then, they decided to keep themselves a quartet instead of trying to replace Klein. For the first time in their 17-year history, NFG is now a touring four piece.
The effect of Klein’s departure was obvious within the first song. There seemed to be a space where the former rhythm guitarist would be, but Pundik, Grushka, Cyrus Booliki (drums) and Chad Gilbert (guitar) did their best to fill that void by performing to their best ability.
I began to question the versatility of the set as I judged their first song choice, but was quickly reprimanded by the intro to “Understatement” off Sticks and Stones (2002), which was undoubtedly one of my main soundtracks of junior high.
Attempting to keep my camera steady, the crowd pogoed with excitement as I resisted doing the same. Especially when the third song in the set, “Better Off Dead,” from their second, self-titled album began to pump through the speakers.
While I witnessed the first three songs up close, I weaved in-and-out of the audience for the rest of the set.
Since it was the day “Resurrection” dropped, I was worried there was not going to be a pleasant dosage of the sounds from my teen years but I was quite surprised. Out of the whole 24-song set, only four of those were from the new album.The first half of the set was a decent mix of old and new, with at least one track from each one of their eight studio albums.
But as soon as the second half of the set began with “Such A Mess” from “Not Without A Fight” (2009) the crowd got wild. It got a little heated in the pit for a minute and I had to step out for some air.
With only three songs from after 2004, the second half of the show felt like a time warp back to the halls of high school, and the energy was there to match.
I mauled my way back into the pit as the audience came together while chanting the chorus to their notable “My Friends Over You,” and I may have gotten a tad teary-eyed over their performance of “Sonny,” but the moment Spundik leaned over the audience to begin singing “Forget My Name” the whole crowd rushed toward the guardrail as everyone preached the lyrics in shaky harmony.
With nostalgia by my side, the show wrapped up with the fast-paced, in-your-face intro to “Catalyst” (2004) and smoothly transitioned into “It’s All Downhill From Here.” Considering NFG’s recent line-up change, I could not help but view that last song choice as a reminder for everyone that life can throw some pretty heavy curve balls, but once you can overcome those difficult times, it really is all downhill from there.
Needless to say, the Glamour Kills Tour in Austin was a hell of a lot of fun, especially since the headliners, New Found Glory, did not seem to care too much about promoting their new album as much as putting on an amazing show. As their newest title suggests, NFG’s latest album not only resurrected their notability and attitudes but also a return-to-form that resembles everything good about early 2000s pop punk.