Okay, so I’m… old-ish. A geriatric millennial. An elder emo. I managed to catch New Found Glory - then A New Found Glory - fairly early on. Spring, maybe summer of 1999, just after Nothing Gold Can Stay released. Back then, all the kids in the know would stay after the show, lurking in Bogart’s back parking lot where the band's vans and buses rested between tour stops. This particular show I was with some buddies of mine, and we were in a shitty pop-punk band and I thought it was cool to wear our own t-shirts. I was “That Guy.” We talked with the band, all the very nice members of New Found Glory signed my t-shirt (it’s somewhere in my house) and I have the ticket stub (somewhere in my house) but they’re MIA - so you’ll just have to trust me on this one. All of this is to say, though, I’ve been doing this a long time now.
Since then, I’ve seen NFG a handful of times - various venues, various states. Multiple record release cycles. I’m fairly certain I was able to see them when Sticks & Stones first released in 2002. For the band, who was already on the kind of trajectory only seen in the late 90’s/early 00’s, this was, you know, the record for them. “My Friends Over You” was the jam, firmly entrenching them in the public consciousness. The rest was, and apparently still is, history.
Recognizing 20 years of an album’s existence - especially as a band still mostly fully intact after almost 25 years in operation - is absolutely cause for celebration. For this tour, New Found Glory brought along relative newcomers and one of my current favorite bands, Be Well, and hardcore/pop-punk stalwarts Four Year Strong, to get things started in truly loud, epic fashion.
Be Well is basically the band I would start right now if I had both the ability to do so, and the means. Led by Brian McTernan (who produced some of the most important hardcord, pop punk and other albums of the last 20 or so years) and featuring members from seminal hardcore acts from across the spectrum, they’ve released a full length and an EP and they’re both, basically, flawless. Live, they’re fun to watch, sound great, and play with an energy that made Elder Emo me a bit envious. A hell of a way to start a show.
Touring as direct support, Four Year Strong came out swinging, sonically speaking. Their particular brand of brash, riffy, and loud hardcore/pop-punk put them on the map almost immediately (20 years ago, somehow), and over the years they’ve both evolved and honed their sound to incorporate just as many breakdown heavy ragers as poppy bops. Their set was a 40 minute whirlwind - big and gnarly, heads and bodies bouncing throughout the crowd, with some solid singalongs to tie it all together. Consider the crowd well and truly warmed up.
If nothing else could be taken from watching NFG do their thing these past two plus decades, it’s that they don’t really take themselves too seriously. Thing is, they know they’re good at what they do - among the best to ever do it, if we’re being honest. And even in moments where a bit of seriousness creeps in, they still have a smile and a bit of twinkle in their collective eye. Whether or not you, personally, ever gave the onslaught of pop punk acts any of your time back in the early aughts, you’ve likely at least heard of New Found Glory. And I’m willing to bet you’ve heard at least one of their ridiculously good covers.
As this is a tour in celebration of 20 years of Sticks & Stones, the album got some proper shine, with the band playing through the tracklist in order, front to back. Even now, I’m surprised by how much I remembered and was able to sing along to (behind my facemask). Bouncing around the photo pit, snapping what I could between other photographers, Bogart’s staff (good folks, that team), and the crowd, was a truly wild experience for me. My high school self was positively giddy. Current me was bemusedly entertained. And I had a great time all the way through.
After the band magically appeared on set (lighting!), then tore through the album (I mean, TORE through it), it was time for a brief intermission and another almost 45 minute set. And this one was just hit after hit, jam after jam. Some of their wider known covers, a lot of the singles that kept them in the limelight for a decade or more, some deep cuts. It was an energetic, often frenzied look back at a consistent, and consistently great career of music.
Like I’ve discussed with Thrice, Taking Back Sunday, Thursday, The Get Up Kids, and others, nostalgia can be a fickle, tricky beast. Fortunately New Found Glory finds themselves in the right company, having successfully navigated looking back without really giving anything up for their future. Sure, they could call it quits basically whenever and go out on top, but I don’t think that’s what they have in mind. They’re still full of piss and vinegar, they feel like they’re still enjoying the hell out of what they’re doing, and it seems like they still have something to say. So, you know, I’ll be listening for as long as that’s the case.
If they’re coming to your town - just go. Get there early, enjoy Be Well and Four Year Strong, and get lost in a 20 year old record that still holds up after all this time. You’ll be happy you did.