Thankfully, we can always count on New Found Glory to stay true to their roots and carry the torch for the genre. The Florida natives seem to have made it their mission to ensure that pop-punk never dies. They’ve emblazoned the tagline “Pop-Punk’s Not Dead” on endless amounts of merch, which they sell while touring heavily to share their music with fans across the nation, now for more than two decades.
This year’s incarnation, the Pop-Punk’s Still Not Dead tour, originally included co-headliners Simple Plan, another household name in the scene. But with the threat of the delta variant looming, Simple Plan announced that they would not be joining their friends New Found Glory on the tour.
“After many tough discussions and internal debate, we have come to the conclusion that it just feels too soon for us,” the Canadians announced on their social media pages on Aug. 19, less than two weeks before the first show of the tour.
“There’s nothing we would love more than to be out there and play for all of you,” the post continued, “but we have to follow our gut and do what feels right for us at this time.”
Many Simple Plan fans, quite frankly, lost their shit, taking to the comments to lament the fact that the announcement was made within the 30-day window that sites like Ticketmaster and Live Nation require for fans to request a refund. A handful of nasty comments abounded in response, including vitriolic references to Simple Plan’s most popular album No Pads, No Helmets ... Just Balls, accusing the band of the opposite.
Despite the hordes of Simple Plan fans who threatened to seek refunds after the announcement, North Texans packed the house from floor to balcony at Gas Monkey Bar & Grill on Tuesday night. LØLØ and co. got things off to a running start, and a very punctual one, with the first notes sounding right at 7:30 p.m. as advertised. The group flew in all the way from Toronto and included the only female musician to grace the stage all night. Their new single “u look stupid” was a crowd-pleaser, and LØLØ certainly seemed to know her audience, throwing a fun rendition of Wheatus’ “Teenage Dirtbag” into the setlist to hype them up.
After a mercifully brief set changeover, Michigan-based emo outfit Hot Mulligan took the stage. The self-proclaimed “#1 hot new band” answered New Found Glory’s call to step in as support for this tour on really short notice, and they absolutely delivered. Lead singer Tades Sanville sang/shouted passionately for the full 30-minute set through a Cobain-esque curtain of hair. He has the kind of voice that sounds like it hurts after a long gig. One fellow concertgoer put it best when he noted that “some bands have a screamer; Hot Mulligan has a shouter.” The up-and-comers had a handful of fans in the crowd who were shouting along to the lyrics, and even a few head bobs were noted.
Next up was the other act to come to the rescue after Simple Plan jumped ship, the kings of catastrophe themselves: Less Than Jake. The ska-punk icons commanded the stage with their high-energy party band vibe, filling the space between songs with entertaining banter. Frontman Chris DeMakes noted that the band was celebrating their 30th anniversary, to which saxophonist JR Wasilewski added, “The key to longevity is to dye your back hair and your pubes.”
They followed up with some good old-fashioned crowd work, pointing out a guy wearing sunglasses at night, declaring that he was their “hero,” along with another gentleman who was apparently sporting a “wonderful mustache.” Less Than Jake performed tracks from their newest album Silver Linings, including “The High Cost of Living Low,” alongside fan favorites like “The Science of Selling Yourself Short,” but even those who may not have known a single song couldn’t help but have a good time. This is a band that knows how to put on a killer show.
The headliners came out strong, blazing through a couple of newer tracks behind a carnival-themed backdrop before launching into “Understatement,” the opening track on their 2002 record Sticks and Stones. New Found Glory is exceptionally skilled at curating the perfect setlist, keeping fans’ interest and energy levels high by strategically placing those more nostalgic numbers. Coming up with any setlist must be a challenge when you have 10 albums' worth of songs from which to choose.
At one point, LØLØ returned to the stage to sing alongside Pundik on “Vicious Love” from New Found Glory’s 2014 album Resurrection, a part originally recorded with Paramore’s Hayley Williams. LØLØ’s expressive vocals and energetic stage presence added an extra element of joy to the performance and were among the highlights of the evening.
“I wanna thank all of you so much for being here for our band for the last two years,” guitarist Chad Gilbert said, addressing the crowd. “Just being who you are as New Found Glory fans, you have made our lives so much easier.”
Just when we thought the fun was over, the lights dimmed, Pundik sprinted to the front of the stage dressed as Elsa from Frozen to play their cover of “Let It Go.” Why? The answer is unclear, but perhaps the more important question is, “Why not?” They eventually wrapped up with a spirited performance of “My Friends Over You,” and all was right with the world. It seems, at least for now, pop-punk is alive and well.