New Found Glory – Nottingham Rock City

By paul

To say that I was looking forward to this gig would be a bit of an understatement. Having been fortunate enough to see NFG on their first UK tour at the Roadhouse in Manchester way back in May, and being completely blown away, I couldn’t wait to see one of my favourite bands again. Add a sprinkling of Punktastic office faves Fenix Tx and underrated skacore heroes Rx Bandits and you have a bill that dreams are made of. It’s just a pity that Rock City wasn’t sold out to witness THE gig of the year.

Kicking off their set wih ‘VCG3’ you can sense the intensity RxB put into their live performances. With the crowd strangely subdued [probably because they haven’t heard of RxB before] the band launched into a frenzied throng, catapulting themselves around the stage with reckless abandon. With new record ‘Progress’ a bit of a difficult one to get into, the band played the more obvious songs during their 25 minute set. ‘Analog Boy’ has a cool organ intro, and when RxB really go crazy with with their they certainly pull it off. But when the chorus kicks in, the band go through ten shades of mental, really hammerimng their instruments with all the intensity of a hardcore band. To say RxB give 110% would be an understatement. Trombonist Rich Balling plays air guitar with his instrument, and vocalist/guitarist Matt Embree flings himself around like a man possessed. And when he wants to, his voice borders on hardcore territory.

Clearly pissed off that the kids aren’t getting into it, Matt decides to tell them to jump and get their groove on, and by the time they play ‘All The Time’, perhaps the poppiest song on ‘Progress’, they are really moving. It’s not hard to see why, there is so much going on on stage I guarantee you will be swaying from side to side even if you’re tone-deaf. Before they leave RxB finish with ‘What If’ from their first CD, ‘Halfway Between Here and There’ which again sparks the pit into life, with skanking and moshing, but no crowdsurfing. Thank God. Call me old, but there’s a time and a place for that sort of crap, and it’s at metal gigs…

RxB are far more intense live than on record, and it’s really hard not to be absorbed into the performance. They’re tight and polished, like most Drive-Thru bands, but have an edge that sets them apart from other skacore bands. If they continue to play like this, expect big, big things.

There were rumours abound that Fenix Tx would play a pretty metal set, made up of the heavier songs from their new record ‘Lechuza’. But thankfully, this could not have been further from the truth. Sure, this band rock, but they still know their roots – kick ass punk rock. And to be honest, the whole gig left me so absorbed and exhilarated that I couldn’t possibly tell you the set list in any kind of order. I remember every song they played, but order? No chance. What I can tell you is that Fenix Tx are no longer a Blink 182 copycat band. They are now a full-on punk band in their own right. Guitarist James Love oozes confidence, even spitting fire [literally] at one point. Having seen Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio two weeks previously, I thought I’d found my new guitar hero. Sorry Matt. James, for an hour at least, is now my hero.

Fenix now have so many kick ass songs it is startling. ‘Katie W’ is immensely powerful with a chorus to die for, ‘Minimum Wage’ from their self titled first record is greeted like an old friend, and ‘Pasture Of Muppets’ may be a metal song at heart but has one of the best riffs seen this year. With more stage presence than you could shake a stick at, Will [who may be short in stature but not in confidence] and the boys will surely be back headlining gigs soon.

So, Fenix highlights. Well, there were so many. The single ‘Threesome’ is a delightful three-minute piece of punk rock heaven; ‘A Song For Everyone’ is perhaps the most underestimated song on ‘Lechuza’, but Nottingham was treated to a near perfect version; ‘Flight 601 [All I’ve Got Is Time]’ rocked so hard it blew the speakers. Still, it was worth the wait and ‘Something Bad Is Gonna Happen’ rocked so hard it would give a geologist a wet dream.

So, down to the last two songs. Please, ‘Pheobe Cates’ I begged. But no, a stonking version of the Nirvana classic ‘Territorial Pissings’ instead, and with James playing from the top of the speaker stacks, then jumping off it at the end, Fenix had won over hundreds of new fans in one song. There was only one song that was going to end this set, the anthemic ‘All My Fault’. And it did not disappoint.

Before the gig I was a fan but not a massive one, but now I’m completely converted. Fenix should be headlining venues like this, and to be honest the energy they gave was that of a headlining act. Come back soon boys, just bring ‘Phoebe Cates’ with you next time…

After all that, I had to get my hands on some merch. But as I was on my way to the stalls, I bumped into the guys from RxB. As you do. An opportunity far too good to miss, I wandered over to Rich and like a big geek gave him my verdict on his bands performance. The whole band signed my ticket, he said he liked my hat [well it was an RxB one..] and said they hoped to come back to the UK in the summer. The night just got better.

But just as you thought it couldn’t possibly get any cooler, NFG pulled up on stage. And oh my God, are this band amazing. With drummer Cyrus still injured with a broken arm, and replaced with the RxB’s Chris, who for the record is an amazing drummer, the band walk on in Christmas hats and fairy lights adorning their amps. Launching straight into ‘Better Off Dead’ the crowd goes mental. This is the greatest opening song of any set, ever. Its big fat riff bounced off every wall, with Jordan throwing himself around the stage and Chad, Ian and Steve slashing at their guitars like their lives depended on it.

In between Jordan hugging the crowd, Steve breaking his guitar and Chad [who is now my new guitar hero] repeatedly thanking us for coming [“you guys are soooo cool,” he enthused] the band bashed out hit song after hit song. ‘Second To Last‘, ‘All About Her’ and ‘Ballad For The Lost Romantics’ are mini-anthems from their amazing second full-length album. People can slag off NFG for being no more than a pop band or another Blink wannabe, but when you see this lot live you know full well that they are the real deal.

Highlights? Well I could list every single song. ‘Dressed To Kill’ was outstanding, if only Rachel Leigh Cook had managed to make a guest appearance; ‘That Thing You Do’ and ‘The Glory Of Love’ from the covers EP were fantastic; ‘3rd and Long’ amazing and the rarely heard ‘Broken Sound’ was brilliant, even if Jordan thought he screwed up. “Some girls are crazy” Jordan belted out during ‘Boy Crazy’ and a hundred boys completely empathised with him. You see, NFG are one of us, and this was highlighted with Chad’s speech about over 18 gigs. “If you’re friends didn’t get in then tell them we’re real sorry,” he said. It’s actually hard to believe that most of the band are just 20 and 21, such is their sheer brilliance.

Coming back for an encore of ‘Hit Or Miss’, NFG prove that they are the best punk band in the world right now. You can call them what you will, but this is the best live band I’ve ever seen. Lagwagon were good, Pennywise excellent, and Reel Big Fish, MxPx and The Ataris amazing. But for sheer energy and pop-punk perfection, NFG beat them all. The last time they came to the UK they played toilets. This time it’s clubs. Next time it will be arena’s…

After all that there was no way possible that the night could get any better. Or was there? As we made our way to the exits, who would be standing by the doors? Fenix Tx! So, out came the tickets again and after handshakes all round all the boys did the deed, capping a memorable night. Little things like this make punk rock what it is today, and I for one respect bands like Fenix for meeting their fans and taking the time to sign stuff for them. Will Salazar, the cheeky young scamp, even started flirting with Mark Punktastic’s girlfriend! Until she told him she’d hit him with the knuckleduster on her finger!

Due to Dan Punktastic’s unforgiveable error in only allowing a maximum of 5 stars [sorry Dan!], thats all you will see below. But ignore that because this gig was a 6.5 out of 5. Drive-Thru Records…thank you for bringing three of the best live bands I’ve ever seen on the same bill.

So, to sum up. It was punk. It was fantastic. You work it out…

Paul Savage