Somewhere in between growing hair in some very odd places, and many a violent mood swing; I fell in love with a pop punk band from Maryland, Baltimore. I’ve gone through a lot of changes since then, and so have All Time Low. Admittedly there are some mixed emotions when a band you once saw playing tiny venues are now playing their second sell out show at the mammoth Brixton Academy. Nonetheless, the consistent fan support is overwhelming, with the queue looping the South London town twice over before the doors of the venue have even opened. Clearly tonight’s show is going to be a spectacle and no one here wants to miss a second of it.
Opening are Dublin newcomers Only Rivals. Welcomed by a deafening scream; the band rip in to their set with upbeat guitar riffs and well executed harmonies, showing no signs of stopping. Some might say this band are punching above their weight, but the ever growing crowd would undoubtedly argue with that notion. At one point of the set the band ask the audience to put their phones in the air, and it becomes apparent that everyone here will do exactly what is asked of them in order to have a good time. From start to finish Only Rivals deliver what is needed, whilst making a point that they are ones to watch this year.
Tonight Alive follow, and after an even warmer welcome it’s time to invest in some new ear drums. From the reception, it’s hard to believe that the female fronted 5 piece aren’t the headline band tonight. Vocalist Jenna McDougall bounces from one side of the stage to the other, commanding every individual in the room with ease. Mostly showcasing songs from their most recent album ‘The Other Side’, Tonight Alive blend furious rock melodies with extremely catchy pop hooks in an explosion of pure energy. After All Time Low vocalist Alex Gaskarth makes a short appearance during their set, McDougall jokes ‘now you have seen All Time Low it’s all down hill from here’. After a performance like that, the mind is left to wonder. Could she could be right?
During the interval the stage is cleared and all that is left is a black curtain. As the house lights drop, eerie music starts to play through the PA. The now rumbling introduction reaches the end of it’s crescendo, the first chord rings out and the curtain drops to reveal an impressive stage set up. Cartoon caricatures of each band member hang from the ceiling whilst ramps on stage lead to the centrepiece that is the elevated drum kit.
By the time you can divert your attention from the stage, All Time Low have already torn through their opening song ‘Do You Want Me (Dead?)’. Guitarist Jack Barakat sprints across the stage as bras hurtle from every direction at his feet, his microphone stand beginning to resemble a badly organised lingerie aisle. After a medley of hits, the band take a breather whilst Alex and Jack have some Blink-182-esque stage banter. It’s clear that even though this band have grown up, their humour shows no signs of maturing.
As the show moves on, the rest of the band leave the stage for Gaskarth to serenade his audience with some acoustic songs. Although All Time Low can be outright ridiculous at the best of times, the Essex born vocalist shows his sensitive side with fan favourites ‘Remembering Sunday’ and ‘Therapy’. As the years have gone on, most can agree that ATL have swayed more to the pop side of Pop-Punk. Despite this, Gaskarth displays raw passion in his words; proof that this pop band are not just another paint by numbers, sell out act.
As the other members rejoin the stage, drummer Rian Dawson hammers his kit into ‘Damned If I Do Ya (Damned If I Don’t)’ and it’s as if the last ten minutes didn’t happen. The crowd are back to usual form and it feels as if the ground is shaking. After a slightly unrehearsed, yet enjoyable ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ cover the band being to reach the tail end of their set. Jenna McDougall of Tonight Alive joins the band during their encore, performing the guest vocals in their newest single ‘A Love Like War’ in place of Pierce The Veil vocalist Vic Fuentes, before the band conclude the night with their biggest hit ‘Dear Maria’. The last song is a party, as members of both support bands join the stage and run free whilst drink spills every where. It’s a perfect end to an extremely fun performance.
Whether you’re an old school ATL fan, or you’ve just heard them; there is something for everyone tonight. All Time Low know how to get a party started, and so do their fans.
Review by Vini Moreira-Yeoell. Photographs by Solange Moreira-Yeoell.