Located alongside Disneyland at Anaheim’s Garden Walk, long-awaited circle pits and crowd-surfers were in full force proving pop punk is, indeed, still alive and well. For two blessed nights, New Found Glory sold out the House of Blues Anaheim with their highly-anticipated Pop Punk’s Not Dead Tour. The show was originally co-headlined with Simple Plan and supported by Knuckle Puck, but current events have led to some adjustments along the way, settling the official bill with outstanding acts Less Than Jake, Hot Mulligan and LØLØ. And, boy, did they all perform!
Kicking it off was LØLØ, starting off the tunes to an already-packed room.
Coming all the way from Toronto, female artist LØLØ is an emerging pop punk artist with a lot to say. She performed her newest singles “Death Wish” and “die without u” as a huge powerhouse vocalist alongside a full band, giving off some major Haley Williams / Paramore vibes, but with incredible long darker hair, complete with diamond-studded fishnets (which where my personal favorite). LØLØ has one full album, Sweater Collection, where she appeals to a powerful pop vibe, but I’m really enjoying this pop punk version turn that we saw on this tour, as well!
After rallying the crowd, Hot Mulligan was set to take the stage. As the lights dimmed, the crowd cheered, indicating the large amount of fans in the room here to see upcoming favorite Hot Mulligan. When the band kicked off with their hit “OG Blue Sky”, the crowd instinctively knew it was go time. One giant mosh pit formed, which, I’m pretty sure, lasted throughout the remainder of their set. Led by a powerful vocalist Tases Sanville and supported by guitarist Chris Freeman on backing vocals, the band (Ryan “Spicy” Malicsi on lead guitar and Brandon Blakeley on drums) carried their set through with such connection and grace that I was transported back to the early 2000s with that good ol’ emo vibe. The guys brought the heat, playing top songs “Featuring Mark Hoppus” off their newest album I Won’t Reach Out To You and old-time favorite “*Equip Sunglasses*”.
After hearts were moshed out, Less Than Jake took the stage and it was time to transform the mosh into circle pits. The crowd had no hesitation in doing so, when Chris Demakes (vocals, guitar) took the stage first and began playing the opener to their hit “Automatic”. He was soon joined by bandmates Roger Lima (vocals, bass), Matt Yonker (drums), Buddy Schaub (trombone) and Peter “JR” Wasilewski (saxophone), with energy at 100% from the get-go. Honestly, it was such an incredible sight to see these guys just running around and having a good time with each other onstage… Lima and Schaub back-to-back jammin’ at one point, Wasilewski coming in to take centerstage when deserved, as well. The crowd sang along throughout their entire set, most notably for “Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sellouts”, “The Science of Selling Yourself Short” and “All My Best Friends Are Metalheads”.
The audience had been giving it one-hundred since LØLØ took the stage, but when New Found Glory ran on, there was no sign of slowing down.
Giving a truly animated performance one could never forget, vocalist Jordan Pundik raced back and forth on the stage to ensure he gave every single part of the audience his undivided attention, alongside bassist Ian Grushka, lead guitarist Chad Gilbert and drummer Cyrus Bolooki. The band was so glad to be back, evident in Pundik confessing that the recent pandemic caused the longest tour break the band has taken since the beginning of their career. From then on, the band blasted through songs and the audience was there for it. Playing many jams off their popular 2004 album Sticks and Stones, the band also didn’t hesitate to throw in their love of a good cover song, performing “Eye of the Tiger” to get it started. Soon, Pundik was onstage in a full-on Elsa costume, performing a punk version of “Let It Go” that I didn’t know I needed until now. Standout NFG hits played, including “Tip of the Iceberg”, “All Downhill from Here” and, my personal favorite, “My Friends Over You”. Good job, dudes! Pop punk is alive and your fans are all here for it. Catch this amazing tour as it continues through the Midwest, making its way to the east coast in October 2021! Don’t miss out!
Photography by Franny Kovacs