Saturday, 11 March 2017

All Time Low - Eventim Apollo, London, 10/03/17

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The last time Waterparks performed in the UK they hadn't even released the first single from their debut album, but since the release of 'Double Dare' back in November they've been working non-stop.
Having just finished a huge co-headline tour with Too Close To Touch, the band seem to be suffering from their hectic touring schedule. Frontman Awsten Knight shared that he's "more sick than [he's] ever been in [his] life", and that resulted in him hardly being able to speak at this show, let alone sing.
Drummer Otto Wood attempted to take over vocal duties, but with technical issues plaguing their set his microphone refused to work throughout the majority of the songs. He has a powerful voice which was impressive when it was audible, but the fluctuating sound levels left most of their songs sounding like extended instrumental jams without lyrics.
Geoff Wigington, guitarist and co-vocalist, was the only member of the band who seemed completely unaffected by the technical problems. His backing vocal during 'Mad All The Time' and lead vocal verse in 'Crave' both went off without a hitch. It would have made far more sense if he'd sung the main vocal line to compensate for the struggles of the other members, unless he was unaware of the problems assailing them.
Awsten's vocal is the unique selling point for this band, and they flounder with him unable to lead them. He made a half-hearted attempt to interact with the crowd, before trying to lead 'Crave' and 'Mad All The Time', but had to abandon his microphone less than halfway through each song due to struggling. Hook-driven songs such as 'Stupid For You' and 'Royal' should have made them an instant hit with All Time Low's fans, but instead they crashed and burned. As a huge fan of the band, this was a painful show to experience.
Waterparks are supporting All Time Low on their tours in both the UK and America, so hopefully Awsten will be feeling better soon: it's a shame that what should have been a triumphant show ended up being an utter disaster.

Made In America
Hawaii (Stay Awake)
Stupid For You
Mad All The Time

SWMRS set was another tale of missed potential.
With an atmospheric intro tape, imposing backdrop and impressive light show, all signs pointed towards it being SWMRS night to shine. They've received the least amount of mainstream media attention (despite drummer Joey Armstrong's famous father) so were the band on the bill with the most to prove.
The audience were thrumming with anticipation, eager to see just how these four young lads from California found themselves as main support on such a lucrative tour. The adrenaline spiked as they sauntered out on to the stage, not allowing themselves to look nervous as they plunged in to opening track 'Palm Trees'.
Playing pop-punk with a grunge twist, their songs were the heaviest performed in the night. The contrast between their music and the other two bands on the bill was refreshing, but it made them feel oddly out of place: they definitely had the biggest challenge to impress the crowd.
Sadly, they didn't swim - they sunk. Vocalist Cole Becker mumbled through the first three songs of their set, making it impossible to understand any of their lyrics and deflating the crowd. The members of the audience who were already familiar with their music were obviously having fun, throwing their arms in the air and shouting along to the words, but most of the people in the room stood with arms folded, politely waiting for their half an hour stage time to come to an end.
Attempting to get political, Cole said "I know it's easy to get distracted by all the bullshit going on in the world today" but "the best way to beat fascism and hatred is to think of yourself, to not be a fucking follower". Rousing the crowd with this passionate speech, he continued by announcing "This song is about Miley Cyrus"... Promptly losing everyone's attention once again.
Things picked up with 'Lose It' and 'Turn Up', the two tracks that had Cole's brother Max performing lead vocal. His voice is far more appealing, and he makes for a much more charismatic frontman. The catchy singalong chorus of "Why'd you have to have such a damn good taste in music/If all my favourite songs make me think of you I'm gonna lose it" got the crowd interested again, and people were finally clapping along and getting involved when Max encouraged them to.
Overall, the set was bland and repetitive, but it certainly improved towards the end. If you haven't checked out SWMRS before, definitely start by listening to 'Lose It': it's a song that's going to be stuck in my head for days.

Palm Trees
Silver Bullet
D'You Have A Car?
Lose It
Turn Up
Figuring It Out

Performing a sprinkling of rarities they've never played live before, this set reminded me just why I keep going to see All Time Low live.
Starting their set with 'Kicking and Screaming', they kicked the crowd into high gear instantly. Whereas the majority of the audience had been disinterested and lethargic through both of the support acts, you could hardly see the stage for the amount of people bouncing up and down, hands in the air as they yelled every word back to frontman Alex Gaskarth. The huge skull and crossbone-shaped lighting rig behind them span and twisted in every direction, putting on a light show that was impossible to rival and bringing the arena atmosphere to a venue that's an intimate size compared to the stages they normally headline.
Following last month's announcement that they'd been signed to Fueled by Ramen, All Time Low are taking bigger risks than they have in years, and one of those was playing hit song 'Weightless' second in their set. Normally held back towards the end, it's a fan favourite that always garners an explosive response, and by moving it to the start of their set it shows All Time Low's confidence in all of their material. They don't need to keep songs in reserve to hold their crowd's attention.
The aforementioned rarities that they surprised the crowd with were 'Canals' and 'Take Cover'. 'Canals' was a bonus track on their 'Don't Panic: It's Longer Now!' re-release, while 'Take Cover' comes from last year's 'Straight To DVD II: Past, Present, and Future Hearts'. Both songs debuted at their "secret" warm-up show as the Young Renegades, but based off of the excited cheers of the fans, people have been waiting a long time to see these two songs played live. 'Canals' in particular was a highlight, the narrative weaving throughout the lyrics reminding everyone in the room that All Time Low aren't just catchy musically, they're brilliant at storytelling too.
Newest single 'Dirty Laundry' received the best response of any song performed in the evening. Verging on electronica, a style that they've never touched upon in their older music, but it's a powerful and necessary step forward for a band who've been together for over a decade. Instead of relaxing, relying on the brand of pop-punk that they've perfected to sell more records, they're taking risks and making relevant changes to stay at the front of the crowd. Despite being released less than a month ago, the audience already knew every single word, and the band seemed blown away by the enthusiastic response.
2017 is going to be All Time Low's biggest year yet. If the rest of 'Last Young Renegade' is as risky as 'Dirty Laundry', they might finally make the leap from headlining arenas to headlining stadiums, and it's about time.
If you were on the fence as to whether to get tickets to a date on this tour, don't delay. Not only is this the most interesting setlist the band have played in years, they're also sounding better than ever before.

Kicking and Screaming
Somewhere In Neverland
Six Feet Under the Stars
Cinderblock Garden
Something's Gotta Give
Kids in the Dark
Dirty Laundry
Missing You
A Love Like War
Backseat Serenade
Take Cover
Lost In Stereo
Dear Maria, Count Me In

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