All Time Low are a pop-punk powerhouse. Having released an album almost every other year since 2005, they’ve been the soundtrack to many of my teenage summers. And, after years of private fangirling, I finally managed to catch them in the flesh on the Manchester leg of their Back To The Future Hearts Tour.
The night opened with the fresh-faced Against The Current, one of Fueled By Ramen’s latest prodigies. They’re often a little on the pop side of pop-rock, but they make it work: everything they put out is powerful but catchy, and infused with teenage angst. For such a young band, ATC had a striking stage presence, something that – along with their blossoming knack for producing killer tracks – is bound to secure their future on the alt music scene. What’s more, Chrissy Costanza’s vocals were as impressive as ever; check out ‘Gravity’, ‘Paralyzed’ and ‘Talk’, and you’ll see what I mean.
Next up was Good Charlotte, a band that have been going strong since before 2000. I’ve always thought of their image as Limp Bizkit meets Avenged Sevenfold meets a wrestling tag team, but their sound is pop-punk through and through. By playing old favourites such as ‘The Anthem’, ‘Girls & Boys’ and ‘The River’ (as well as yelling ‘MANCHESTERRR!!’ at random intervals), they quickly won the crowd over. Their newer stuff proved that they haven’t lost their touch, and an enthusiastic rendition of ‘I Just Wanna Live’ confirmed that Joel Madden has not lost his falsetto. That’s always nice to know.
Finally, the almighty All Time Low made their entrance: much girlish screaming ensued. Blast after blast of nostalgia hit the crowd; classics such as ‘Lost In The Stereo’ and ‘Damned If I Do Ya’ had the whole room defying gravity. Impressively, the band’s early flair for catchy melodies and awesome riffs also permeates their more recent offerings. ‘Kids In The Dark’ and ‘Something’s Gotta Give’ transformed the gig into a sort of strobe-lit rave. Their sound may not have evolved very far, but it has never faltered. It’s still as wonderfully pop-punk as ever, and it’s perhaps this consistency that sustains their adoring fan-base.
Things took a turn for the heartbreaking with ‘Therapy’ – one of the band’s only acoustic ballads, and a beautiful showcase of the more sensitive side of ATL. This quiet sincerity can also be found in ‘Tidal Waves’ and ‘Missing You’ – two of their latest releases – proving that they’ve kept their affinity for pain and poignancy as well as fun and catchiness.
After years of experience as the band’s frontmen, Alex Gaskarth and Jack Barakat seem to have become something of a comedy duo; they display a quirky kind of chemistry that fans have clearly grown to love. And, after a spontaneous, short-lived rendition of 80s hit ‘Don’t You Want Me’ (with most of the lyrics missing), Jack was soon sporting a bra on his mic stand. Go figure.
So, what did I take away from my first ever ATL gig?
1) I love pop-punk just as much as I did when I was 15.
2) I can no longer simultaneously sing and rave without getting a stitch.
3) Mosh pits are far more enjoyable when you’re watching them from a good vantage point (and not in them, getting the shit kicked out of you).
Feb 15th – Back To The Future Hearts Tour @ The SSE Hydro, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Feb 16th – Back To The Future Hearts Tour @ 3Arena, Dublin, Ireland
Feb 20th – Air + Style Festival at EXPO Park, Los Angeles, CA
June 10th – 12th (All Time Low) – Download Festival, Donington Park, United Kingdom
All Time Low’s latest record, Future Hearts, is available now.
Against The Current’s debut album, In Our Bones, will be available later this year. Other releases are available now.
Good Charlotte: new record release TBC.
(Featured image credit: Taken from All Time Low’s official online store.)