Brand New

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brand-new

Actually, they’re not brand new. They’ve been around since 2000. Based out of Long Island, New York, they formed during the post-hardcore/pop punk explosion in the late 90s/early 2000s. But, understand, they are not a pop punk band. They are so much more. Each album (they have four) presents a brand new style. And, yes, it’s meant to be ironic.

Sure, I knew about Brand New during high school and college. But I lived in California. I was busy listening to the Fat Wreck/Epitaph sound coming out of SF and LA. You know, bands like NOFX, Strung Out, Bad Religion, Rancid, Lagwagon, and Pennywise. I didn’t live in the Tri-State area – that is, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Sure, I dug Midtown, The Starting Line, The Movielife, and Senses Fail. Meanwhile, Taking Back Sunday’s Tell All Your Friends (2002, Victory Records) was and forever will be a masterpiece about unrequited love. Hell, Jesse Lacey was a founding member of Taking Back Sunday circa 1999, but an internal feud led him to form his own band. I look back, and I remember when “The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows” hit the airwaves during my senior year in high school. But other than that, I never really got into Brand New.

Then I lived in New York City for two years.

It’s funny how music has the power to create genre-specific, geographic “bubbles.” One might call them “scenes.” Think of the Mersey Beat in Liverpool in the early 60s, the San Francisco sound in the late 60s/early 70s (i.e. Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead), or the LA sound during the same time period (i.e. The Doors). Meanwhile, you got punk rock in New York City in the late 70s spawned by The Ramones, grunge based in Seattle in the early 90s (i.e. Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden), and gangsta rap (i.e. N.W.A, 2pac, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg) in Los Angeles around the same time. You get the point. Where’s the next music/cultural explosion? Are we experiencing one now and not even aware?

At any rate, let me run you through Brand New’s discography.

YFW

Your Favorite Weapon (2001, Triple Crown)

Your Favorite Weapon (2001, Triple Crown) is fast-paced, melodic, and very reminiscent of early Blink-182. It brushes on heartbreak, teenage angst, the thrill of exploration, and the joys of being young.

“Jude Law And A Semester Abroad” 

Deja

Deja Entendu (2003, Triple Crown/Razor & Tie)

Deja Entendu (in French, “already heard”) addresses some more serious topics. The record features mix of soft-spoken and harsh vocals, coupled with soaring melodies and complex instrumentation. It’s brilliant. It was 2003, and I think it sounds a lot like The Used (a contemporary band at the time), but it stands the test of time.

“The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows”

Devil&God

The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me (2006, Interscope)

My introduction to Brand New was by way of The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me (2006, Interscope). I was really confused. Then I went back to the early material and gradually put things together. It’s my favorite record by far. Lots of different styles going on here. But if you’re just getting into Brand New, don’t start here. You won’t get it.

“The Archer’s Bows Have Broken”

Daisy_(album)

Daisy (2009, Interscope)

Their most recent effort is Daisy (2009, Interscope). This record is intense. It takes a lot of patience. Again, don’t start with this one. It’s like when someone walks into a movie halfway through and wants to know the plot lines thus far. Very rough at the edges, but still some good standouts tracks like “Vices,” “At The Bottom,” “Gasoline,” and “Bought A Bride.”

“Vices” 

I’ve never seen them live. I want to. Really badly. It’s something that I need to do, so I can tell my grandkids, “Yes, I saw Brand New in concert.” Like Baby Boomers tell their grandkids about The Beatles, The Stones, Springsteen, Dylan, and their experiences sliding in the mud at Woodstock.

The music geeks and the industry folks always say, “Eh, Brand New – they’re not that great live.” Yet, Brand New are notorious for making it nearly impossible for fans to gain admission to their shows.

Check out this Tumblr.

“Oh, it hurts to be this good.”

Lucky me, they just announced a string of west coast dates on Wednesday. They are playing August 28 at The Fox Theater in Oakland. Apparently, though, I was a little late to the party. By the time I saw the Facebook post, the exclusive pre-sale through their fan club website had expired. So I think, “Okay, no problem. I’ll snag a pair, maybe three or four tickets on Thursday at noon when they go live on Ticketmaster. But I gotta be quick. Because these babies are gonna go FAST!”

Granted, they are not U2 or Green Day. Sure, they’ll play big music festivals, such as Riot Fest or Boston Calling. But, they don’t play arenas or stadiums. They want to play mid-size venues across the country (~2,500 – 3,000 capacity) – think Irving Plaza in New York City, The Wiltern in Los Angeles, or The Fox in Oakland. They want to cater to the fans in their niche.

They’ve got old fans and (relatively) new ones (like me). They’re past the point in their career where they will have a hit song on the radio. But it doesn’t matter. Word still spreads amongst human beings. Growth is organic. It is not forced.

Ticketmaster is aware of the power of Brand New. The same goes for the promoters, the venues, and the ticket scalpers.

So, Thursday morning is upon us. Die-hard fans stare at their computer screens, ready to go at 11:55am, constantly refreshing the webpage, ready to purchase when the clock strikes 12. I should have been paying more attention at noon. Unfortunately, I had a dentist appointment at 11:30am. I got home at 12:15pm, and it was too late. Yeah, I tried the Ticketmaster mobile app, too, but no luck. It sold out. Or did it?

Currently, there are over 300 tickets available on StubHub (see the screenshot below). Are you kidding me?! There are probably hundreds more on other secondary ticket sites. On StubHub, the cheapest ticket is around $80. The most expensive ticket is $999. Look, no sane person would sell a concert ticket for $999, and no one is crazy enough to buy a ticket for $999. So, inevitably, there are going to be some empty seats at The Fox. And that’s a shame because Brand New are a rare find in today’s rock music scene.

Brand New -- StubHub

Do we blame Ticketmaster’s poor user design? Was it simply an Internet traffic jam? Did the so-called “bots” scoop up multiple tickets and place them on the secondary market? Was I really that late to the party? Did they really sell 2,800 tickets in 15 minutes? Was it an inside job? Did promoters and/or Brand New’s management buy tickets and place them on the secondary market? We’ll never know for sure. What we do know is that every Brand New show is in high demand, so the market economy dictates the price of the ticket.

As a music fan, it’s frustrating. This isn’t the first time this has happened, and it won’t be the last. Who knows how much longer these guys are going to be around? After all, they’ve been playing for nearly 15 years.

The real fans simply want access. The rest of the parties – venues, promoters, and scalpers – want to make as much money as possible. And, frankly, it sucks.

Bottom line, Brand New are successful because they keep their audience engaged. The level of anticipation is palpable. They tell a new story through each album. I have a feeling that their live show is pretty awesome, too.

I’ll be at The Fox on August 28, somehow, someway. I’m going to plunk down money for this. This is what life is all about. The experiences. The prices will fluctuate over the next five months. I guarantee it. People’s plans will change. Real fans that cannot make it will sell their tickets at face value. Trades will be executed. Who knows, maybe a second show will be added to meet the overwhelming demand.

In a world where transferable, physical tickets exist, a concert like this will never really sell out. Access is attainable; it’s simply a matter of assigning a proper value to the ticket. Lately, the trend of non-transferable tickets has taken shape. Companies like Ticketfly, Eventbrite, HoldMyTicket, and In Ticketing partner with local venues to establish will-call-only tickets, thereby eliminating the threat of the secondary market.

It probably wouldn’t fit their niche, but if Brand New had instead booked a two-night run at Slim’s (where In Ticketing is a vendor), would I have had a better chance of scoring tickets? Which method will dominate the next 10-15 years? Can the two ticketing options co-exist? Is it healthy for the live music industry as a whole?

Who knows, maybe the naysayers are right. Maybe Brand New are awful live. But, they sure are great salesmen.

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#FaceOfMLB (Part 2 of 2)

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David_Wright

David Wright is the #FaceOfMLB

Just a quick update to this, because I find all of this quite fascinating, and it offers a lot of good parallels. Then we can put it to bed, because after all, it’s old news.

If you didn’t hear, Sogard lost in the finals to David Wright. Albeit, it was a very close call – 51% to 49%. Sogard was leading by a hefty margin at one point. Sports Illustrated reports that Sogie held a commanding 55% to 45% advantage as of 3am PST on Friday morning. Then, all of sudden, the East Coasters got in gear and catapulted Wright into the winner’s circle. Or did they?

Studies have shown that social media usage has peaks and valleys throughout the day. Trends have developed to capture engagement, and thereby increase response rates. Increased engagement strengthens your brand. To illustrate, Facebook posts are common between 1pm – 4pm, with 3pm Wednesdays being the peak (probably because everyone is bored at work and looking for distractions to get through the day). Meanwhile, Pinterest posts generally peak on Saturday mornings (because that’s when you actually have time to share your new muffin recipe). Research also indicates that Twitter is a beneficial tool when used Monday through Thursday from 11am – 3pm. The worst time to tweet is between the hours of 8pm – 9am. Generally speaking, your tweets will evaporate into the cloud and go unnoticed during this time frame. Fewer individuals are online between 8pm – 9am, so there is less engagement.

The voting ended (strangely) at 8am EST, which is Twitter downtime. Furthermore, this meant it was 5am PST – a time when a large portion of West Coasters (and, in particular – A’s fans) were still under the covers or were focusing on their morning routines. A’s fans weren’t actively voting in the wee hours of the morning, so this presented a slight disadvantage. Furthermore, how can we be so sure that the Mets’ community was, in fact, executing a (legitimate) comeback? More importantly, how did the Mets’ fan base construct such a rapid turnaround?

King of Queens

“What does ‘Met’ stand for, anyway, you know? I mean, what’s a ‘Met?’ What’s the deal with that?”

Granted, the Mets have a devoted fan base – actually very similar to that of the A’s. The people in Queens are a very simple bunch, much like the working class in Oakland. (Hell, both locales could benefit from urban renewal, but that’s another can of worms). You ever watch The King of Queens? Yeah, I know it’s cheesy, but Kevin James’ character is pretty accurate. People from Queens love the Mets. Just mention “Game 6” to anyone in Queens, and I’m sure you’ll have a great conversation.

Meanwhile, the Mets play in the shadows of the New York Yankees and their 27 world championships. Here in the Bay Area, the San Francisco Giants have executed recent championship runs in 2010 and 2012. In turn, they have been able to bring in more business, because they have proved to their fan base that they are a winning team. And, seriously, that’s how you grow a business. Instill confidence in yourselves and your customers. Now, they can easily cater to the tech crowd and the San Francisco elite.

Just this week, the Giants offered the A’s somewhat of a consolation residency should Oakland move forward in their plans to build a new ballpark. Do the A’s take it? I don’t know. There are lots of factors at play – there are legal issues to flesh out, scheduling conflicts to acknowledge, and a bigger issue called pride. Will A’s fans be able to enjoy a home game in an unfamiliar park? This is something A’s management has to digest and sort out.

Trout 3

Mike Trout

Look, MLB wanted to see Trout versus Jeter in the finals. It would have been a story that the mainstream cared about. Everybody loves a story. Trout, the center fielder of the Los Angeles Angels, is the up-and-coming MLB superstar.  He’s the first baseball player ever to sign a $1 million guaranteed deal before he is eligible for free agency and/or arbitration (i.e. a big payday). He’s going to be a rich man, and he deserves it because he’s got the talent to back it up. This kid is 22 years old, and he can play. He’ll hit 30+ HR, drive in 120 RBI, collect 35 doubles, steal 30+ bags, and his defense is superb. Just wait.

The Captain

The Captain

Meanwhile, Jeter is retiring at the end of this season, much like Mariano Rivera did last season. Even if you’re not a baseball fan, you know who Derek Jeter is. So, it’s another way for the Yankees to make money. It’s an insurance package, because if the Yanks don’t perform well on the field this season, they can still put asses in the seats, because everyone from all corners of the world wants to see The Captain play one more time.

Is there a Mike Trout in the music scene nowadays? Someone so talented in all facets – recording, live performance, stage presence, general appeal, etc? I’m not talking about the Lady Gagas of the world. I’m talking about music created today that we can still appreciate 50 years down the line. Like The Beatles.

Deon Cole

Deon Cole

Consider this – I recently witnessed Deon Cole’s stand-up routine at Cobb’s Comedy Club in San Francisco. It was hilarious. Do you know who he is? He’s a writer (or at least he used to be a writer) on CONAN. He also appears on some of Conan’s sketches. He’s clever, personable, smart, and he has great stage presence. But can he appeal to the mainstream? Does he need to? Or should he simply focus on his own fans?

That said, have you ever heard of the Long Tail Theory, a concept developed by Chris Anderson? To quote, “The future of entertainment is in the millions of niche markets at the shallow end of the bitstream.”

Sogard in the field

This is Nerd Power

To circle back, was the voting process in #FaceOfMLB genuine? Were there other factors at play? I guess we’ll never know for sure. Hey, CSN Bay Area reminds us that David Wright does not even have a Twitter handle! How did he connect with all of his fans the way Sogard and the A’s community did? Furthermore, go ahead and track #DavidWright on the Trendsmap (via CSN Bay Area), and you’ll see a lot of tweets coming from South Korea. Is it possible MLB bought tweets, the same way that Facebook buys “likes” via “click farms” in Southeast Asia, and other pockets around the world? At the end of the day, David Wright received more votes, but were Mets’ fans actually more engaged than A’s fans? Do you follow? To better understand, watch this video, courtesy of Veritasium. It’ll blow your mind. I’d subscribe to the YouTube channel, as well.

That’s all for now. I’m gonna go watch The Oscars.