When you’ve seen a band in concert four times before, it might seem like there’s not much left they can do to surprise or excite you. On Wednesday, April 15th, that theory was proved wrong, when I was lucky enough to see my favorite band, pop-punk All Time Low, in the kickoff show of their Future Hearts Tour at the Tsongas Center in Lowell, MA. The band has not released new music since October 2012, so Future Hearts, their sixth studio album, came highly anticipated. Although it took a three-hour trek from the Comm Ave bus, to the green line, to the Lowell commuter rail, to a local bus in Lowell, the concert was worth every second of the epic journey.
Unfortunately, my three-hour commute meant I missed ATL’s first opening band, State Champs. Next up, however was the Australian band Tonight Alive, with lead singer Jenna McDougall. I hadn’t heard of them before, but their set definitely pumped up the crowd. “The Other Side,” a story about a lost teenage love, was my favorite song, mostly because of Jenna McDougall’s incredible lead vocal. Her voice easily stood out despite the heavy guitar and drums.
Following Tonight Alive was Issues, a metalcore band from Atlanta, Georgia. I am not a metalcore fan in any way, shape, or form, but that’s not the reason I found it difficult to enjoy Issues’ set. Once they began, the crowd seemed to become infected with mosh pit fever, and spent several songs aggressively pushing and shoving back and forth. The worst part was that the band was actually encouraging the crowd to do so. Because getting physically assaulted by sweaty strangers isn’t exactly my cup of tea, I ditched the crowd after only two songs, neither of which stood out to me. Issues clearly lives up to it’s name. #overit
Finally, it was time for the main act: All Time Low. Not to brag or anything, but my prediction that they would open up with “Satellite” from Future Hearts turned out to be exactly correct. Once the black curtain dropped and lead singer Alex Gaskarth sang the opening lines, the crowd went wild. An elaborate light sequence in which spotlights shone into the crowd, making the band members only visible in silhouette, was a perfectly dramatic way to start the show. The next song was the most unexpected of the set, “The Irony of Choking on a Lifesaver” from their 2012 album Don’t Panic. I was pleasantly surprised by this choice of song, due to it not being one of the more well known from their album. The true fans knew every word, however, and sung it proudly.
While many bands tend to play mostly songs from their newest album when they’re on a promotional tour for that album, All Time Low’s set was a beautiful mix of new, old, and really old songs, sure to please fans of all of their albums. The band paid homage to their early days by playing hits such as “Six Feet Under the Stars,” from their 2007 studio album So Wrong, It’s Right, and “Stella,” “Weightless,” and “Lost in Stereo,” all of which are from 2011’s Nothing Personal. Their fourth album, 2011’s Dirty Work, was represented by “Time-Bomb,” in which a few lucky fans got to join the band on stage and sing along. All Time Low also played “The Reckless and the Brave,” “Somewhere in Neverland,” and “Backseat Serenade,” from Don’t Panic. This show being the first of the Future Hearts Tour, several songs from the album were played live for the first time, such as “Runaways.”
Guitarist Jack Barakat
In classic All Time Low concert fashion, they also slowed it down for a few songs and switched over to acoustic guitars. First, came the timeless “Therapy” from 2009’s Nothing Personal, a melancholy ballad. Alex Gaskarth has been quoted as saying “’Therapy’ is about every kid’s nightmare, when people are telling you to get help, but all you really want is a hug.” Next came the new “Missing You” from Future Hearts, a song about a similar topic, but with a more upbeat tune and hopeful message. Although the song was only one week old at the time of the concert, the crowd screamed along to the powerful lyrics, “Don’t lose the fight kid, it only takes a little push to pull on through.” As a longtime fan, seeing the transition from a darker to a lighter song about going through rough times made me well up with pride. It seems to me like the band is growing up past their teenage angst phase, and wants to help their fans do the same.
Lead singer Alex Gaskarth sings Therapy
When it came time for the encore, the band closed with the oldie-but-goodie “Jasey Rae,” followed by the new “Kids in the Dark,” and finally, the classic “Dear Maria, Count Me In.” The assortment of songs was only one of the elements that made the show so fantastic, however. The band’s witty banter, mostly between Alex and guitar player Jack Barakat, always make the moments between the songs just as entertaining as the songs themselves. The band’s passion for every song they play comes through in every guitar riff, drum hit, and note sung. The crowd never stopped jumping and singing along, even in the set’s slower moments. By the time the confetti exploded over the crowd towards the end, I was nearly in tears at how much I didn’t want the night to end.
All Time Low put on an unforgettable show that I look forward to seeing again in May in New York. Hopefully, at that show, I’ll finally achieve my goal of meeting the band that has brought so many life-changing songs and concerts into my life. But if not, simply getting to experience one of their shows, for the sixth time, is more than enough for me.