Released Oct. 8th on Bridge Nine Records
When New Found Glory burst onto the pop punk scene at the turn of the millennium, it was a ripe time for the genre, with Blink-182 going multi-platinum and TRL a cultural force. Thus it wasn’t terribly surprising when NFG, a band from sunny Coral Springs, Florida with hook-filled songs about girls breaking boys’ hearts, got signed to major label MCA and cracked the top 5 with Sticks and Stones (2002) and Catalyst (2004). Even so, the band never hit the same level as, say, Blink-182 or Green Day. The aforementioned albums only went gold, and only one of NFG’s songs ever made it to the Billboard Hot 100 (“My Friends Over You”, at no. 85).
The musical landscape has changed much since then, but New Found Glory hasn’t. They’ve continued to release albums roughly biennially, their last couple through punk mainstay Epitaph Records, and even though sales have shrunk in pace with the crumbling of the music industry, the quality of their output has never showed decline. Warped Tour veterans, they’ve watched numerous musical trends come and go (emo, screamo, metalcore, post-hardcore, “scene”, etc.) but have never much changed their pop punk sound. Through continued output and consistent touring, they’ve maintained a devoted fanbase and avoided the lineup changes, dry spells, hiatuses, and breakups that’ve claimed so many of their genre peers (think Sum 41, Sugarcult, and pretty much every band that used to be on NFG’s original label Drive-Thru Records). With their energetic live show so key to their career’s longevity, it’s somewhat surprising that it took NFG this long to do a live album.
Kill It Live was recorded over two nights this past March at the Chain Reaction in Anaheim, a venue that only holds 250 people (every attendee got their individual photo in the liner notes). That intimacy translates on the record, which does a great job of capturing the energy of both band and fans. The setlist reads like a best-of, with 17 crowd-pleasing songs that are all full of singalongs, audience handclaps, and other participatory moments. My only complaint with it is that the song selection is so heavily weighted toward the first half of the band’s career: 6 of these songs are from Sticks and Stones, 4 from Catalyst, and another 3 from 2000’s self-titled disc. Coming Home (2006), Not Without a Fight (2009), and Radiosurgery (2011) all get short shrift, with only one song from each (if you’re doing the math, the remaining song is the title track from 2008’s Tip of the Iceberg EP). The glut of material from Sticks and Stones makes sense when one considers that shortly after these shows the band embarked on a summer-long tour celebrating the album’s anniversary by playing it in its entirety, but even so the later albums feel underrepresented (and there are no songs from either of their albums of movie covers). Still, that doesn’t take away from the energetic performances of the songs that were chosen.
Kill It Live also includes 3 new studio tracks, all in the familiar pop punk vein. “I Want to Believe” seems tailored to induce pogoing and circle pits, and has a neat, deep sound in the bassline. “Connect the Dots” is the standout, a huge, hooky, infectious number. “First Bite” is a head-bobbing tune with a catchy chorus. These tracks act as extra enticement for fans already familiar with the live set.
I saw New Found Glory twice this year, once on the Sticks and Stones tour and again on a co-headlining run with Alkaline Trio this fall, and can attest that they do in fact continue to kill it live. Indeed, the live show is where this band delivers the most energy and connects the most with its fans. Kill It Live captures this quite well and is a good pickup for fans.