by Abigail McNatt
All Time Low sure was the Life of the Party at Stage AE on July 25th, 2017. The not too hot, not too cold Tuesday evening brought (almost) each and every young music fan in the city of Pittsburgh, down to the North Shore to see the popular pop-punk band of almost 14 years. Fans, young and old, rocked the night away from the early 6:30pm start time down to about 10:45pm.
On their Young Renegades Tour, beginning mid-June, they brought along 3 semi-popular, but similar in genre, bands. First on set was indie-rock band The Wrecks from Los Angeles. Throughout their whole set they had the crowd rockin’. Many fans located in the front rows were screaming each and every lyric with their wide eyes fixated on the band members. They utilized the stage to a good extent and jumped around, pumping up the already high level of adrenaline within the crowd. Towards the end, I remember hearing them play “Favorite Liar” and recognizing the song as if I had heard it before. It turns out that it’s actually had some radio play, which was cool to learn. Overall, they had an awesome set and were a really cool band.
The next band to come out on stage was Waterparks, a name I was previously familiar with, being so ingrained into the world of smaller bands. They are local to Houston, TX and have a pop-punk sound, similar to All Time Low‘s. Lead singer, Awsten, came out wearing a wig and beard so I was surprised when he took them off, revealing his light blue hair. Guitarist, Geoff Wigington, really took advantage of the stage their entire set, as he even ran around on the large speakers, located on each side of the stage. He messed around and played closer to fans, while on the speakers, which really demonstrated their great connection to the fans. Speaking of, Waterparks was clearly a fan favorite because they had a lot of the crowd singing along to every word throughout their entire set. Fans, including myself, really seemed to enjoy “Stupid for You” seeing as though their arms were all waving in the air and jamming out.
The band whom All Time Low had to follow, was Oakland, CA locals, SWMRS. Like Waterparks, they are also considered pop-punk. If you were to ask them, they’d tell you they play “hawaiiange” or “hawaii grunge”. From the get-go they were very.. interesting. Lead singer, Cole Becker, came out in a polka dot dress and played the whole set in it; and he worked it quite well. Fans went wild when they came on stage. They were awesome for me as they worked the stage and created some super cool shots for me and the other photographers in the pit. Cole picked up his mic and mic stand, during one song, and held it out to the crowd, who sang… I mean… screamed every word along with the band. During their song, “Palm Trees” (if I remember it correctly), ATL guitarist, Jack Barakat accompanied them, which, of course, caused fans to go berserk. I wasn’t even aware of it, despite hearing the screams, until I was rapidly taking photos and realized he was there; my heart kind of stopped. Along with Waterparks and The Wrecks, they too used the stage to their advantage.
And now we are at the part of the review where I tell you about how good the headlining band played. But they weren’t just good… they were fantastic. I saw All Time Low in 2015 at their Future Hearts Tour and remember thinking about how cool it would be to shoot them. Little did I know that 2 years later that is exactly what I’d be doing. I’ve been a fan of theirs since before that album came out; so not as long as most people but their last 2 albums have been huge successes in my book.
I was so excited to hear that the first song on the setlist was “Last Young Renegade” because that is my favorite and the first one I heard off of their newest album. My heart skipped a beat when I saw them all arriving at their positions on stage and heard the intro. That is one of the things I love about music and about what I do; it will always be surreal to hear your favorite songs live. The first 3 songs, “LYR”, “Damned If I Do Ya (Damned If I Don’t)”, and “Runaways”, flew by, as the first 3 are the only ones photographers are able to shoot. My excitement and level of adrenaline did not alter after leaving the pit. If anything, I was excited to stand with my friends and enjoy the show along with the other fans in the crowd.
Throughout the course of the show, the bandmates made their share of jokes, such as calling out the Pittsburgh Steelers (the band is from Baltimore) and talking about the rivalry, to which lead singer, Alex Gaskarth, said, “I didn’t come here to start shit. I just came to play music.” Jack, who called out the Steel Curtain, grabbed one of the balloons, that was being hit around the crowd, and put it under his shirt so he would look like he was pregnant.. and still played guitar with it… goof.
They played a couple of oldies next, “Backstage Serenade” and “Guts” before getting into a few from the new album, “Dirty Laundry” and “Nice2KnoU”. Once the intro to “Nice2KnoU” began, fans, including myself, started singing along to every word and jumped around, hands waving in the air.
The next 2 they played were from their 2015 release, Future Hearts; “Missing You” and “Cinderblock Garden”. “Missing You” surely struck some tears within the crowd, as it’s a song about fighting depression and anxiety. The crowd had their phones in-air waving them around and singing along. They were wide-eyed watching Alex sing the song that more than likely helped them through a lot of shit in their lives.
After fans wiped the tears from their eyes, they enjoyed a couple more songs before losing it again; “Vegas” and “Something’s Gotta Give” lightened the mood a little bit. Before “Something’s Gotta Give”, Jack made a dedication to “the 412”, explaining that he knows about “412” being Pittsburgh due to an ex-girlfriend being from here. He explained that he knew “what number to avoid answering.”
Alex was the only one on stage for the next tune, accompanied by his acoustic guitar; “Therapy”, another song about depression and getting through the pains that come throughout life. Most of the crowd likely lost it (again) because of the way the song makes you feel listening to it. He let fans sing along, very loudly, with him as he so powerfully serenaded the crowd.
The band continued with another song from Nothing Personal, “Weightless”, before going into “Life of the Party” from the new album. By this point, there were only 3 songs left on the setlist, before the encore, that all bands act like the fans aren’t aware of but are. “Lost In Stereo” was another song fans jammed out to. During one of the later songs in the set, Jack started putting a bunch of the bras fans threw on stage, on his head and just played while wearing them. The band is known for collecting the bras and keeping them on their mic stands.
The next song, “Time-Bomb” is a cool one; I remember them doing this the last time I saw them. The band went all along the stage and pulled up a bunch of fans, maybe 15-20 or so, to sing along while they played the song, and get the crowd wound up (as if they weren’t already). Those fans rocked out, while being surrounded by the band members whom they are likely infatuated with. Dream come true for some. “Good Times” was the final song before they left the stage. I actually heard it on the radio on my way home, for the first time which was cool.
Once they left the stage, as if the show were over, fans screamed their name over and over; and sure enough, less than 5 minutes later, they were back on stage, as expected. They had 3 songs left for the night. “Kids In The Dark” was the first, to which fans rocked out like crazy too. Most of the night, Jack was craving chicken tenders and kept talking about them. Unfortunately, he didn’t get them, to the best of my knowledge, but he asked if the venue made any in the time they were gone. They then continued with another of my favorites (and Alex’s) from the latest album, “Drugs & Candy”. Even if you aren’t an avid All Time Low fan, you surely know the song they ended the night on; “Dear Maria Count Me In”. My boyfriend was even outside waiting for me and texted the lyrics in all caps. Fans gave the very last song they all and sang it as powerfully as they could.
Having seen All Time Low 2 times now, I can honestly say the Young Renegades show was one I will never forget. They had great graphics accompanying their performance and they gave it their all. They put on a wonderful show and really make a connection with their fans, breaking the fan to artist barrier that always tends to be there. I can guarantee I will be there the next time they make a Pit stop in the ‘Burgh… pun intended. I highly recommend catching their next show, on this tour or the next one. You will not be disappointed.