As the sold-out “The Rock Show at the End of the World Tour” rolled into Philadelphia Nov. 17, I guess you could say I was a bit excited, but I was not the only one. As I approached the Theater of Living Arts, the line to get into the venue was so long that it wrapped around the building and stretched almost a block away. This was certainly not surprising, considering All Time Low’s fan following.
The band formed in 2003 and got its first big break on the Van’s Warped Tour, playing there from 2006 to 2009 before returning to the tour this past summer. Since 2006 they have recorded five studio albums, started an exclusive fan club called The Hustler Club, and built up a huge following, especially here in Philly.
The show opened with a small band from northern Virginia called The Downtown Fiction. They were a great opening act because lead singer Cameron Leahy has an unparalleled stage presence. He is so in touch with the band’s music and has the dance moves to prove it. The Downtown Fiction is best known for its single “I Just Wanna Run,” which was the last song in the set. I’m not sure I would enjoy seeing them on a headlining tour, but they were definitely enjoyable as an opener.
Next to take the stage were pop-punk superstars Hit the Lights, led by frontman Nick Thompson. You may know them by their popular songs: “Body Bag,” “Speakers Blown” and “309.”
Hit the Lights is the type of band that demands the attention of everyone in the room, whether or not you know the group’s songs. To show their appreciation for the crowd, the guys brought out longtime friend and Philadelphia legend Shane Henderson of Valencia to sing “Drop The Girl” with them. That moment was definitely the highlight of the set to me and to everyone else in the crowd who hadn’t seen Valencia since their farewell show last year.
The last opener was The Summer Set. I have seen The Summer Set over five times, and I must say that their live show doesn’t impress me. Though the band’s albums are upbeat and peppy, none of these aspects transcend into their stage presence, and seeing them live usually lets me down. One awesome thing about The Summer Set, however, is Jess Bowen. Not only is she the only woman in the band and one of the only women in this music scene, but she’s also the singer and the drummer. The Summer Set is great to listen to with your volume all the way up while driving in your car, but I wouldn’t suggest wasting money to see them live.
Finally, it was time for All Time Low. When the lights went dark, screams filled the TLA. Alex Gaskarth, Jack Barakat, Rian Dawson and Zack Merrick emerged from backstage and played the lead single off of their newest album, “Don’t Panic,” titled
“The Reckless and the Brave.” As the set continued, they played a good mix of songs from “Nothing Personal,” “Dirty Work” and “Don’t Panic.” In the midst of all the music, the audience was showered with the band’s banter and bathroom humor, including jokes about a certain popular boy band.
“F— One Direction, I’m all Directions!” lead singer Gaskarth said.
All Time Low then treated the audience to two songs from its 2006 EP. “Coffee Shop Soundtrack” and “Jasey Rae” have always been popular songs within the All Time Low fan base, and they seem to induce the most crowd-surfing and moshing during the set. During “Coffee Shop Soundtrack,” guitarist Barakat handed out guitar picks to crowd surfers flying over the barricade, including myself. Halfway through the set, Gaskarth decided he wanted to have an elbow-licking contest. The three people he pulled onstage to lick their elbows got to watch the rest of the show from backstage.
During “If These Sheets Were States,” a song about missing someone while being in a long-distance relationship, Gaskarth noticed a boy in the front row on Face Time, so he took the phone and sang directly to the girl on the other end.
After the song was over Alex asked the boy about the girl on the phone, and he said she was his girlfriend who lives in California.
It was a touching moment to see someone connect to the band’s lyrics and apply them to a personal situation. For the encore, the band played “Time Bomb” and “Weightless” before closing the show with their most popular song, “Dear Maria, Count Me In.”
Over the years, All Time Low has built up a reputation for onstage antics, and it really adds to the experience of their show. They truly transform their recorded music into a rock ‘n’ roll experience. All Time Low will return to Philadelphia for a spring tour in 2013.