After hours in the silence of the library studying for midterms, I needed some loud music and a crowd of noisy people. The House of Blues in Cleveland fit the bill with New Found Glory, We Are the In Crowd, Fireworks, and Red City Radio. The music was just what I needed to recharge, but the crowd left much to be desired.
First up was Red City Radio, who replaced Candy Hearts on this tour. All four artists sing, giving their music a full vocal tone that surrounds the listener. The music is punk/rock and a bit angry at times, but they performed it well. It featured all the standard punk music nuances, but the audience reaction was lukewarm.
Fireworks played next and immediately captivated the audience with their unexpected musical twists and turns. Lyrics, fashioning a story in each song, held the crowd’s attention as David Mackinder sang songs ranging from soulful ballads to rallying calls. The music was mesmerizing, emotional in context, yet dramatic and cohesive. It is not your run-of-the-mill pop-punk genre. Every song was different and unique, yet the audience reaction was underwhelming.
By the time We Are the In Crowd took the stage, I was wondering if I was in the wrong place. Opening with high energy and upbeat songs, Taylor Jardine and Jordan Eckes flooded the room with harmonies that would make anyone want to jump. I have heard We Are the In Crowd many times and was amazed at how they have developed a gift of songwriting with the collective musical talent to present such a polished and professional show. Playing songs from their new release, Weird Kids interspersed with old favorites, the crowd finally stirred. The crowd sang along with “Kiss Me Again” as they jumped, but fell quiet once the song was over.
Introducing New Found Glory was a rousing rendition by Judy Garland singing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” in a raw, grainy, black and white video clip. Then there was silence. Like the calm before the storm, New Found Glory exploded with songs guaranteed to raise the roof. The audience came alive as they sang loud enough to rattle the balcony stairs. Opening with songs from their new release, Resurrection, the crowd launched into punk mode. Lead singer, Jordan Pundik, is well known for his faultless vocals and this show was no exception. Every song was as perfect as the recording, and the witty exchanges with fans were endearing. Near the end of the set, Chad Gilbert (lead guitar/backing vocals) explained that New Found Glory’s success was near and dear to his heart. He stated, “We wanted to encourage other kids to start bands. We are really happy that they have”. He went on to tell the audience that, “Life is challenging. You have to dig deeper and then you can get through”. The audience cheered at his comments, chanting “N-F-G” over and over until the music began once more.
It was everything a punk show should be and more. However, by the time New Found Glory played, “Stubborn”, I wanted to leave. The crowd, which had been so reserved through the first three bands, had turned into a belligerent machine of destruction. Standing on the right gave me the best view, but the constant (X-rated) comments of the drunken guys next to us actually drowned out the music. Moving to the left was no better. Two girls got into it, first tossing drinks at each other (and anyone in the immediate vicinity), eventually coming to blows. A shirtless man leaped up to grab the bottom of the balcony, hanging six feet above the main floor, kicking people in the head as he laughed. More injured people were carried out of the crowd than a mosh pit at a death metal show. Let me be clear that this show was musically one of the best I have seen this year. But the live show experience encompasses more than the musicians on stage. I can put up with the cell phones and iPads, but when the crowd turns dark…there is no turning back.