New Found Glory celebrates 20 years of music at Sokol Auditorium

Photo courtesy Bandsintown

Danielle Meadows

Two decades ago, New Found Glory consisted of obnoxious teens filled with endless energy and a passion for music. Their performance on Wednesday at Sokol Auditorium proved that some things never change.

Known as the godfathers of pop punk, New Found Glory packed the auditorium Wednesday. During this tour, the band plays two albums every night to celebrate their lengthy career. Omaha’s date heard their self-titled record, released in 2000, as well as “Sticks and Stones,” released in 2002. The band also performed two new tracks.

Alternative rock bandThe Ataris opened the concert. The Ataris’ rise in popularity came in 2003 with album “So Long, Astoria.” Their rugged, punk-infused instruments paired with introspective lyrics gave The Ataris a cult following. At the peak of their success, up-and-coming bands like New Found Glory once opened for them, but now the tables have turned. Dedicated Fans sang back at the singer during their set, with their hit“Boys of Summer” cover pulling at the crowd’s nostalgic heartstrings.

Anticipation lingered in the air as the audience waited for New Found Glory to take the stage. Looking around, the varied age of the crowd was striking. Most fans were in their late 30s,ready to rock out to the music of their youth. Some were younger, maybe seeing New Found Glory for the first time—including a 10-year-old boy who ended up crowd surfing later in the set.

When the lights dimmed, fans cheered and screamed. Projected on a screen behind the drums, a touching video showing vignettes of New Found Glory played. Clips showed the transformation of the band from their beginnings as naïve, young musicians playing concerts to any audience that would listen, to their peak of success in the early 2000s, to now. Twenty years summarized in an emotional minute-long video, getting the audience even more excited to celebrate the band’s anniversary.

The quartet appeared in the dark, kicking off the show with their explosive song “Understatement,” Lead singer Jordan Pundik’s voice sounds the same now as it did when the song was released years ago: commanding, melodic and whiny; often complaining of girls or the town in which he grew up.

Guitarist Chad Gilbert talked during the set far more than Pundik. While he kindly thanked the audience multiple times, sharing anecdotes of humble beginnings, he came off as a little arrogant and annoying. Gilbert faced some controversy earlier this year after his split with Paramore’s Hayley Williams, which several of New Found Glory’s new songs are rumored to be about.

Gilbert called out an audience member who talked to him before the concert (not knowing he was a member of the band), who told Gilbert to “tell New Found Glory to play their old stuff because their new stuff sucks.”Clearly, this audience member didn’t know the band was literally playing two of their earliest albums in entirety—and the band was annoyed by this story.

The man was spotted in the crowd by the guitarist. The lead singer chimed in angrily, saying the audience member “dissed him before he even went on,”adding that he would meet this fan after the show to give him a free copy of their new record. After the awkwardly dramatic encounter, the band went right into their new single “Happy Being Miserable” before continuing with their older songs.

The audience was lively and rough, passionately singing songs and banging their heads. The floor was sticky from drinks being thrown and fans frequently slipped and fell on the floor but were picked up by other audience members, promoting good rock concert etiquette.

Angsty anthems like“Forget My Name,”“Hit or Miss” and “Dressed to Kill” ignited aggressive pushing amongst the audience. Numerous mosh pits started throughout the show which bled into the more relaxed, still crowd, making for some to be irritated.Craziness like this is to be expected at a New Found Glory show, though, as their aggressiveness is mimicked in the crowd.

New Found Glory’s set closed with their hit song “My Friends Over You,”with just about everyone in the audience jumping and screaming the lyrics, remembering how refreshing their sound was when it first emerged on the scene. Red and white confetti rained down on fans and balloons flew through the air, ending New Found Glory’s“birthday party” in the most fitting way.

The members of New Found Glory are almost 40 years old. The lead singer has removed his punky lip piercing,and the bass player has parted ways with his neon orange hair.

The most impressive part of their performance at Sokol Auditorium wasn’t the nearly perfect vocals, pulsating drums or wailing guitars. It was that they played through two whole albums with the endless energy of teenagers.

“We think a 50-year anniversary is a good place to stop. I’ll only be 45 then,” said Pudnik.