Pop punk legends New Found Glory are back in Australia for the first time since 2015 to celebrate 20 years of being in a band at least one emo/scene kid you knew in high school obsessed over. Their aptly-named 20 Years of Pop Punk Anniversary tour hit SA this week, with punters treated to a night of nostalgia hearing albums Sticks and Stones (2002) and Catalyst (2004) played in full. Along with support act Stand Atlantic from Sydney, New Found Glory proved that pop punk’s not dead.
Firstly, for all you who never owned checkerboard Vans, New Found Glory are pioneers in their field. A la Blink-182 and Sum 41, they spawned out of the second coming of pop punk during 1990s/early 2000s. Described as “the godfathers of pop punk” and “serving as the blueprint to the entire genre”, their influence has been massive, and that’s without all the tattoos their lyrics have no doubt inspired. They’ve played Soundwave (RIP), Warped Tour USA, Warped Tour Australia (also RIP), Leeds Festival, Reading Festival and SlamDunk Festival. They’ve played with acts such as Green Day, Blink-182, Reel Big Fish, Alkaline Trio, MxPx and Marky Ramone. Since their inception in 1997, New Found Glory have released 9 studio albums, 3 cover albums, 2 EPs and a live album. The lead guitarist even used to be married to Haley Williams of Paramore – it doesn’t get much more pop punk than that.
Stand Atlantic kicked off the show with a barrage of typical second-wave pop punk tunes. Personally, I really enjoyed the choice of Stand Atlantic as the opening act. Being New Found Glory’s 20th anniversary tour, the audience were clearly used to the main act’s era of American Pie, Tony Hawk Pro Skater-esque pop punk. Stand Atlantic as an opener provided an audible timeline of how pop punk has morphed, grown and changed since its inception in the late 90s and early 2000s. Anyway, enough musical nerdery.
This pop punk foursome, formerly known as What It’s Worth, burst onto the Aussie music scene in 2015 with their short and sweet EP A Place Apart. Since then, the group have released a couple more singles, including angst-ridden ballad Coffee at Midnight and party track Mess I Made, and their upcoming EP Sidewinder. Stand Atlantic sound like everything you remember pop punk being – slightly depressing lyrics, crying vocals and an infectious guitar riff. While both drummer Jonno Panichi and bassist David Potter both look and sound the part, it’s frontwoman Bonnie Fraser who deserves a special mention. Music, especially pop punk, is a bit of a sausage fest. This isn’t some particular opinion this writer holds, its fact. While it’s a bit sad that it’s actually exciting to see a woman as the band’s focal point, it’s fantastic to see Fraser hold her own, if not outshine, her male counterparts. By the close of their slot, the crowd were amped up and ready for the main act, but thoroughly enjoyed the newcomers’ set.
New Found Glory were greeted with raucous applause and the audience advancing to the stage barrier. The crowd kicked off as hard as the boys in the opening tracks, with Understatement creating a bouncing mosh pit of diehard fans. Frontman Jordan Pundik graciously thanked the room for knowing the words to all their songs after all these years, before launching into Belated, At Least I’m Known For Something and All Downhill From Here. Failure’s Not Flattering went absolutely ballistic, with audience members pointing at their friends and belting out lyrics, closely followed by It’s Been A Summer. While playing material off both Sticks and Stones and Catalyst, the group ensured they jumbled up the order of songs, and which album they were off. This resulted in the set not being quite as predictable as I’d expected, which was a welcomed surprise.
Despite the mix-n-match nature of the set, the foursome did play both albums in full, as promised. Now, I of no band and minimal musical talent, imagine this would be a pretty neat tour to do. Picking a cutla albums per city, giving the ~real~ fans of your OG days exactly what they’ll take to Twitter and demand anyway, and you barely have to practice a damn thing. Coincidentally, it also makes writing an article about the show way easier, as I can get as drunk as I damn well please yet still have the entire set list (albeit not chronological) at my hungover fingertips the next day via Spotify, so thanks lads.
Moving through the two albums with numbers including Sonny, Head On Collison and This Disaster, the dudes stopped a number of times to sincerely thank the crowd for their continual support over the past two decades. The foursome that make up New Found Glory aren’t the same people who took to the Warped Tour stage back in the 90s and 00s. For starters, bassist Ian Grushka was sporting a bandaged right wrist, presumably an RSI from 20 years of pop punk axe work. Tattooed skin has wrinkled, bald patches are starting to appear amongst bleached tips and stage jumps are fewer and further between. Alas, the sound is exactly the same, as is the showmanship. The boys acted like The Gov was a festival stage, and took the crowd back to the heyday of pop punk.
Aside from thanking the crowd repeatedly for knowing all the lyrics, buying their albums and coming to their shows, the guys also peppered their set with numerous bouts of banter. At one point, guitarist Chad Gilbert requested that drummer Cyrus Bolooki take his shirt off. He refused, however Grushka stepped up to the plate and removed his rich-man’s Hawaiian shirt to reveal his infamous Dad bod and ‘Lazy Bones’ bubble-letter tattoo spanning his stomach. I Don’t Wanna Know followed, which was fitting given the conversation about chaffed nipples that had just taken place. With Grushka now jumping up and down, the boys launched into Never Give Up, Forget My Name and No News Is Good News. Finishing their pre-encore set with The Story So Far, the dudes soon returned to the stage to bash out Ending In Tragedy, Intro and pop punk staple My Friends Over You before bidding The Gov goodnight.
Admittedly, pop punk might not be as cool as it once was (to some), but New Found Glory reminded us how good pop punk can be last Wednesday night. A 20 year anniversary tour is a serious feat for any band, let alone one that’s arguably niche in the grand scheme of music. Normally, I’d recommend interstaters catch these lads before their remaining shows sell out, however the boys reckon they’ve got another 15-30 years left in them, so with the time pressure off, maybe just gear up for their 40 years anniversary tour instead.
Images via AK Photography & The Gov