With over ten years’ experience in playing shows, it’s hard to criticise their stage presence. All Time Low are a band that have always lurked on the edge of full-fledged stardom: producing poptastic sing-a-long tunes not dissimilar to bands like Busted or McFly – yet always marketing themselves as a punk band. In 2015, their hit single ‘Something’s Gotta Give’ managed to briefly claw it’s way into the UK top 40 – while their posters were still appearing in Kerrang! magazine. If you’ve ever been to more than one All Time Low show, you’re probably familiar with the gig etiquette. Flying underwear, crude jokes and crying teenage girls are commonplace here.
For the past month, All Time Low have been teasing their next release: ‘Young Renegades’. With their questionably catchy first single, ‘Dirty Laundry’, the album boasts collaborations with Tegan and Sara as well as some very edgy artwork. Early last week, there was an entry on All Time Low’s fan club homepage, calling all fans who could make it to London on Thursday to keep their eyes peeled for tickets to see the ‘Young Renegades’ themselves.
Opening the night with the first track from 2015’s ‘Future Hearts’, ‘Kicking and Screaming’ helped set the pace for the rest of the show. This song is guitar-heavy and gloats about ‘chasing after rock ‘n’ roll’. As per usual, guitarist Jack Barakat was getting a workout in on stage, running and dancing all over the club and encouraging the crowd to do the same. They followed this up with their classic 2009 hit ‘Weightless’ – at this point it seemed like the setlist would be fairly generic: with 5 studio albums, their debut EP and 2 live DVDs, it’s hard to please everyone with deep-cut album tracks.
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Next up: a track from their 2012 release ‘Don’t Panic’. ‘Somewhere in Neverland’ is a happy-go-lucky pop-punk hit that requires synchronised clapping and hip-shaking. Fan favourite ‘Six Feet Under the Stars’, from All Time Low’s debut album ‘So Wrong, it’s Right’ proceeded to blow the room away. For a song they’ve not played live in upwards of 2 years, their delivery was effortless and brilliant.
All Time Low shows have never just been about playing music: it’s tradition for guitarist Jack and lead singer Alex to take a few short breaks between hits and start talking shit in a strangely funny, improvised double act. The band members are all approaching 30 years old, yet they will probably continue to entertain the goofy-teenagers-talking-about-dicks-and-boobs act until they eventually stop making music. Silliness, optimism and sex jokes are their brand.. and their brand is a best-seller.
They jumped straight back into the fun after getting in a few self-deprecating cheap shots, busting out another classically All Time Low-like song called ‘Cinderblock Garden’: a song about a girl with tons of metaphors and “oh oh oh oh”s.
The first half of the set was then wrapped up with dance-tactic ‘Canals’, and both of the most successful singles from Future Hearts, ‘Something’s Gotta Give’ and ‘Kids In The Dark’. These are fun, noisy songs to jump up and down to, but with lyrics that are ultimately quite hollow. After this, All Time Low introduced their latest single, ‘Dirty Laundry’. Interestingly, this was a bit of a test run for the band, as this particular track hadn’t been played live yet. I think this was probably the weakest part of the show – this song lacks substance and a real breakdown. The crowd couldn’t really jump or mosh or head-bang, and all settled for a weird sort of slow dance.
The next part of the show is usually when the majority of the band vacate the stage and leave Alex Gaskarth alone with an acoustic guitar, while he croons his way through two of their most emotional songs: ‘Therapy’ and ‘Remembering Sunday’. Sure enough, ‘Therapy’ began, lighters and iPhone torches went into the air and at least a dozen teenage girls started sobbing. This wasn’t followed up with ‘Remembering Sunday’ as expected, though: it seems to have been permanently replaced with their most recent cheesy acoustic hit, ‘Missing You’. This song has some strange, out-of-place country influences, but it is a full band track, and one that doesn’t fail to engage the crowd.
The show felt like it was reaching its end at this point: the band slammed the crowd back into chaos with another headbanger: ‘A Love Like War’. They followed this with ‘Backseat Serenade’. All Time Low announced that they were going to play a single released alongside their live at Wembley Arena DVD from last year, ‘Take Cover’, and then they would leave the stage. “That’s when you guys call us back for an encore,” Jack Barakat announced cockily. So they did.
For such a small crowd, it was possibly the loudest encore call I’d ever encountered. Feet were stamping and every single person was screaming ‘All Time Low’ as their lungs gave out. Their fans have to be commended for their enthusiasm. They swaggered back on stage and launched into another of their best-loved songs, ‘Lost in Stereo’.
Their physical paper setlist only had one more tune: their platinum hit-single, ‘Dear Maria, Count Me In’, but All Time Low are not very good at following the rules. Suddenly, they were busting out track after track from their debut album, and the crowd went crazy. Songs like ‘Let It Roll’, ‘The Beach’ and ‘Stay Awake (Dreams Only Last For a Night)’ – crowd pleasers that haven’t been played live in a number of years. To top it off, they hit us with ‘The Girl’s a Straight-Up Hustler’ from their debut EP, ‘Put Up or Shut Up’. This was the final straw for some people.. tears were shed and nights were made. They wrapped the show up with a goodbye speech, thanking everyone for coming and promising to return to London sooner rather than later. ‘Dear Maria’ finished in traditional All Time Low fashion, with guitars being thrown across the stage and Alex and Jack jumping into the crowd for the final chorus. Guitar picks and drumsticks were thrown. A perfect night ended.