I really like Brand New. No, that’s an understatement. I worship Brand New. I started listening to them in the middle of high school, and they form the basis of my love for punk. Brand New’s evolution from youthful pop punk to their current brand of heavy-hitting post-hardcore is legendary and is the perfect example of how a band should evolve and innovate their sound over time. There’s just one problem with Brand New: it’s almost impossible to see them live.
After a few years off from touring, Brand New played four shows in the Midwest this fall. Brand New followed up this mini-tour with an announcement in the first weeks of winter: they had so much fun playing for fans that they are going to play four more shows this winter.
I couldn’t believe how lucky I was. I was going to be home for Christmas break in time to catch Brand New’s show in Long Island, New York. I had waited years for this band to play a show in New York, and this was finally my chance. That’s what I thought, anyway. My hopes were smashed when the tickets sold out in under 30 seconds.
Sitting in front of my computer and hitting refresh until the tickets were available didn’t help. Every other Brand New fan in New York was doing the same thing. Turning to StubHub for help was useless. The cheapest general admission ticket I saw on StubHub was priced at $220, and that price climbed higher as fans grudgingly paid the jerks who bought tickets with the sole intent of gouging diehard fans. One week before the show, the cheapest ticket I saw was more than $300, well above the original price of $35.
After a couple weeks, the outrage from fans over not getting tickets and the ridiculous scalping prices prompted Brand New to alleviate the tension by adding one more small-venue show to each coast. They even bought back many of the scalped tickets and offered them to honest fans. Luckily, my hard work on the F5 key paid off the second time, and I got a ticket for their show in Brooklyn.
I feel very conflicted over who is to blame for this mess. The StubHub resellers are the clearest targets for the wrath I feel on behalf of the fans who missed the shows. It kills me to know that there are hundreds of other Brand New fans, some of whom were probably with Brand New from their early days of playing Long Island dive bars, who couldn’t get tickets because greedy people wanted to earn a few hundred bucks off of fans.
A discography show like this for a band as popular as Brand New is a special event. Fans who support the band are the ones who deserve to go. Unfortunately, even without using Ticketmaster, there are few reliable ways to prevent this kind of ticket scalping. I refuse to give any of the resellers a single penny, no matter how cheap the tickets become. But unless all the fans go along with the boycott idea, it won’t accomplish anything, and only wealthy fans will be able to get tickets.
Brand New made a serious effort to prevent reselling for the two West Coast shows they’re playing. To further prevent scalping, Brand New announced a strict two-ticket limit per customer and required that the credit card that originally bought the tickets be presented prior to entry. Those measures, though, only stopped the West Coast scalpers and did nothing for the East Coast.
But resellers aren’t the only reason tickets were scooped up so quickly. There are more desperate fans dying to see Brand New play than can fit into the venues they book. Beyond that, Brand New rarely plays shows. I think the band takes the biggest share of blame for the fans’ disappointment.
Brand New insist on playing very few shows and only play them in relatively small, intimate venues. The sparse touring schedule makes me wonder how much frontman Jesse Lacey and the rest of Brand New care about the people who are responsible for their success and legacy. Brand New’s fan base spans from young kids in high school to 30-year-olds who have followed the band for over a decade.
If Brand New wants to return that love and support, they have to play either more shows or in bigger venues. It’s understandable that the band wants to keep the shows intimate, but doing a large tour in small venues would still allow the crowd to get close to the band.
But maybe I’m overreacting. Even I’ll admit that there’s more to life than getting knocked down by a drunk, bearded, and sweaty 27-year-old in a mosh pit.