A band who keep getting bigger, keep growing and maturing musically, a band at the top of their game and who have lasted over ten years is hard to come by these days. With that in mind, it’s a good thing that All Time Low are in Bristol this evening, prepared to show the city that the hype they had received in 2007 is stronger and still worth believing in in 2017.
Starting the evening, Waterparks ooze out enthusiasm like today’s the last day they’ll live. There’s a clear sense of freshness and excitement from them, as playing venues this big is clearly a new experience for them. They’ve been incredibly lucky that the audience here tonight are accepting and receptive of what they’re feeding them. It’s just the entree but everyone’s left satisfied but still aching for more.
SWMRS take a different approach to pop punk than Waterparks, with more of an emphasis on the punk. Whilst they lean towards the preppier side, SWMRS take influence from the traditional – 90s style. This “I don’t give a f***” punk attitude is contagious and although musically they don’t entirely please tonight’s crowd, energetically they do. At least they’ll be remembered for one thing.
Young teens to early 20 females make up the majority of their fanbase, and if you couldn’t tell before, you most certainly can now as All Time Low are greeted from a reception of high-pitched squeals, screams and“I love you’s”. They swerve in with the jump-inducing songs, Kicking and Screaming, most apt as an introductory track and Weightless which sends nostalgic shivers down spines.
From looking around the room alone, you’d think, performing live, they’d be very style over substance band; hairspray’d still hair, skin tight jeans, enviable good looks with an irresistible charm and sense of humour. Okay, this is still true, but style isn’t their focus and from watching the rest of their set, it’s just an additional bonus.
Throughout, singer, Alex Gaskarth is stuck to his microphone to successfully reach those pitch perfect notes and faultless falsettos. Meanwhile, guitarist, Jack Barakat is almost untraceable in his movement – moving at a speed not dissimilar to a kid on red bull, unleashed in a theme park; jumping, skipping, head-banging, all whilst maintaining emoji-like facial expressions. Unironically, his sense of humour is that of a teen too.
This is not a criticism, though, in fact far from it. All Time Low have established early on in their career the type of fanbase they attract and how to get a response out of them. As a result, the setlist contains predominantly newer tracks like the epic A Love Like War, the harmony-driven Backseat Serenade and Dirty Laundry, which for a fresh release, receives a stadium-worthy singalong. They capitalise on what elements they know stick out – the genital jokes, the ‘old friends’ chat and their own flaws that they happily poke fun at, displaying a unique self-awareness that’s so rarely seen on stage.
Admittedly, genre-wise, All Time Low aren’t doing anything particularly unconventional or ground-breaking, but they’re more than music. They represent their own community through lyrics that resonate and their demeanour. They have a genuine understanding of who likes them, why and, like parents with their children, they base their decisions on their fans – the explanation to their continuous growth and path to world domination.
Live Review & Photography by Natalie Lam at All Time Low o2 Academy Bristol 22.03.17