Thursday, June 4, 2015

Concert Review

Knuckle Puck, Real Friends, & All Time Low

Last Friday, I went to the first concert of the season. All Time Low was supposed to do a show in the middle of May with Issues, Tonight Alive, and State Champs, but it got cancelled. As disappointed as my Issues-loving brother was, I'm pretty glad that ATL decided to do a later show with even more emotion. I think it was worth the wait. 

Since I can remember liking alternative music, I remember labeling All Time Low as my favorite band. Blasting Put Up or Shut Up through my earphones during long car rides, plane journeys, or just on sunny summer days always completed the experience, and I have followed the boys since then. Though I have grown in my music taste and I no longer think ATL is my favorite, I still hold a high regard for their music and recognize that they shaped a huge part of my childhood. As I stood within the crowd of 4,000 people who felt the same, I knew I had found a kind of home.

When the email came that the original show had been cancelled, my brother and I were devastated. He would not be able to see Issues live in an enclosed venue, and I might not be able to make the rescheduled gig. In the end, I could make it and I dragged him with me, and I'm so glad we could both experience it. The roar of the crowd was unlike anything I had previously experienced at a show--more deafening, more ecstatic, more elated. I thought I had seen fans before, and I probably had. But this... this was more than a fandom. This was a family.

The show started with a new band called Knuckle Puck, perhaps most famous for their cover of the 1975's song "Chocolate." My brother and I came late, so we didn't really get to see much of them, but what we heard sounded good. In fact, Zach bought one of their shirts in favor of an All Time Low shirt, because he has a complex about wearing band merch that is too mainstream. Since then, my brother has been following up with recordings and he seems to like what he hears. They're a little more hardcore than the pop-punk, but we like that.

We completely skipped the Real Friends portion of the concert, since neither of us really liked them that much. Instead, we went down to the merch line to buy our shirts from the line that lasted 20 minutes. I purchased a black tank with a cool Future Hearts design, and I know I'll wear it this summer. (I plan on including it in a haul later.) Zach decided on the Grim Reaper shirt from Knuckle Puck, which he has already worn. I think he likes it.

After the merch, we headed back upstairs to catch the last Real Friends song from good old Zone 3 (aka the back of the room where it's quieter). We didn't want to waste our ears listening to a band we didn't even care about that much, so we chilled for awhile with the parents before Real Friends thanked the crowd and left the stage. Now was the time to move up and get our spot in the middle.

The only thing I remember was how hot it was. I heard the doorman say it was a sold-out show, which only goes to show the dedication of alternative fans to seeing live music. Everyone wanted to be closer to the stage, and everyone was wearing their merch. I felt like I showed up at the wrong concert in my high waisted pants and half-sleeve crop top. The devotion to the music and to the band will never get old. Never.

The stage lights flooded around 8:45PM, and the crowd absolutely erupted. Like I said before, I have never heard a room come together to be so loud. I've been to gigs inside, outside, small rooms, big rooms, and nothing tops that moment. My heart raced as Ryan started the beat to "Satellite" and the other three emerged from the smokey curtain. The show had begun.

Though they didn't play a whole lot of new songs, they didn't really play old favorites, either. They catered to the crowd they thought they would get: people who knew the pop songs like "Lost in Stereo", "Stella", and "Timebomb". In a way, a lot of people there liked those songs. Alex even commented on how well we knew the lyrics in one of their famous in-between banter sessions. They also brought up how they have played at the Rave fourteen times, which is a record, and that this concert begins and concludes the Milwaukee Tour. There was also something in there about becoming Ultron and propelling the city to the stars, effectively making it its own country. But that's beside the point.

Every person in that crowd knew every lyric. The emo ones, the punk ones, the old ones, the young ones, the other girls in crop tops, the jocks in snapbacks, the people with dyed hair and piercings, the people with long hair and no makeup, the people with their parents, and the people with their lovers. Not one person who showed up was not a fan, and it showed the whole night through. I was honored to be a part of that crowd and have my first experience seeing my favorite band be such an emotional one. People who like All Time Low have depended on their music at some point, and very well could be depending on it now like I was back in the good old days. Everyone has a story, and so many in that room were the same.

Once the regular set was over, the boys set up for their promised acoustic set. This was an attempt to make up for canceling the original show, and everyone accepted it. Alex got up there with his acoustic guitar, stood in front of the mic, and strummed the opening chords to an old favorite: "Remembering Sunday". How many times had I sung the female part to that song, holding a curling iron in the mirror and pretending I was as happy as the girl who got to look down from the clouds at a guy as amazing as Alex Gaskarth? How many times had doing that brought me to tears? Music has a funny way of giving us all perspective on things when we need it most. At that moment, everyone in that room could sing along to the song about love and sadness.

As the set went on, they kept playing the songs everyone knew and loved. Right as Alex finished "Remembering Sunday", we started chanting "Jasey Rae". They played it, and boy, did they play it. Notes falling out of those guitars, caught by the voices singing the words in the crowd. Alex never had to worry about forgetting lyrics from such old songs, as he feared, because we would always have his back. So many times he put down the microphone only to be serenaded by 4,000 voices who couldn't forget the words if they tried.

By the time the show was over and it was time to go home, I felt better about a lot of things--checking off seeing All Time Low live, surviving a sold out show at the Rave, renewing my fondness of songs old and new, and getting a taste of what pop-punk family is all about. I got it a little back when I saw the Maine, but nothing like that. We listened to Put Up or Shut Up the whole way home, leaving the city light behind us as we quickly approached the countryside. But All Time Low sang us onward, just as they always did. Just as they always will.

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