We may not have asked for Jordan Pundik in an Elsa (think Frozen) dress and wig, but New Found Glory’s From the Screen to your Stereo to Your Town Tour gave us just that and much more.
Phoenix locals Doll Skin started early, catching attendees as they entered The Van Buren. The band repeatedly thanked their hometown crowd during their short but fun set.
The veteran rockers of The Early November were only given a brief time onstage, but they made the very most of it. Playing songs from each era of the band’s lengthy career, vocalist (and remaining original member) Ace Enders was electric, his impressive vocals filling the room and prompting the older fans to lift their voices to join his.
Enders has perfected his sound over many years of recording and touring and this journey through his band’s discography included staples like “Tell Me Why” and the classic sing-a-long “I Want to See You Sad”. He closed his time with a beautifully emotional acoustic rendition of “Ever So Sweet”.
Younger fans rushed the pit as Real Friends took the stage. The Chicago pop punk group is known for riling up their audiences and Saturday night went off in typical fashion. The first riffs of “Mess” churned the crowd into a teeming mass of humanity and the first of the crowdsurfers hit the barricade shortly after. Singer Dan Lambton was jovial and engaged with the fans, speaking about music and mental health midset.
Despite their melancholy lyrics, Real Friends is just a fun band to watch. The group shook things up towards the end with an unexpected (but not unwelcome) cover of The Starting Line’s “Island”, before closing out with the raucous “From the Outside”. Fans left the pit drenched in sweat but smiling broadly to match the band’s energy.
Boardwalk lights advertised popcorn and movie tickets while the opening verses of “All Star” brought pop punk staple group New Found Glory bounding onstage. The band’s 22-song setlist was overflowing with their hits, mixed with fast and loose covers of popular songs featured in classic movies. Pundik underwent numerous and hilarious costume changes, from his pro boxer championship robe to Hugh Jackman’s circus ringleader outfit for The Greatest Showman’s “This is Me”.
Of course, NFG didn’t neglect their original music and with over 20 years of back catalog, there was plenty to choose from. Classic tunes like “All Downhill from Here” had fans raising their hands and their drinks, while “Sucker” and “Sonny” kept the singing loud. The band also brought out Real Friends guitarist Dave Knox to help out with “It’s Not Your Fault” and plenty of pop punk fans were pleasantly surprised at the appearance former Yellowcard singer Ryan Key on guitar and piano at the back of the stage.
Guitarist Chad Gilbert took the mic and expressed the band’s collective gratitude to be playing sold out rooms all these years later and the fans reciprocated with shouted approval and a massive choir of voices for “Hit or Miss” to end the set. Naturally, there was time for a three-song encore, including a pop punk version of “The Power of Love”. They invited Doll Skin drummer Megan Herring onstage for “My Friends Over You”, showering the euphoric audience in confetti.
One thing’s for sure- New Found Glory always find ways to surprise their fans. Bringing classic soundtrack songs to life kept the show fresh and funny while consistently playing the hits that people love to party along to. The band said it best- they’re ready to rock for the next 50 years and beyond.
Story and photos by Olivia Khiel