All Time Low knows exactly who their audience is: Prior to stepping onstage at the sold-out House of Blues in Boston on Friday (July 28), the pop-punk band blasted Ed Sheeran‘s “Galway Girl” and My Chemical Romance‘s “Teenagers” — a clear nod to the fact that the crowd was mostly made up of teenage girls. By the look of the masses, you’d never guess that ATL’s first album came out 12 years ago — but therein lies the genius of their next gen, baby band-packed Young Renegades Tour.
With three up-and-coming opening acts — The Wrecks, Waterparks and SWMRS — All Time Low are testing their tastemaker status. Will they eventually be able to leave a legacy of influencing a whole new generation of bands a la Green Day and Blink-182? That remains to be seen. But on this night, they reigned as if they were kings, even calling themselves “the Rolling Stones of emo bands.”
While the audience enthusiastically embraced the openers, particularly Waterparks, it was obvious they were there for the main attraction. From the moment the lights went down for All Time Low, the place was a nonstop whirling dervish of bouncing heads and hands attached to kids who knew every word to every song, new or old.
ATL performed six of 10 songs off their latest album, Last Young Renegade, which, in terms of crowd response, mixed in seamlessly with older tracks like “Weightless,” “Damned If I Do Ya (Damned If I Don’t)” and show closer “Dear Maria, Count Me In.” Highlights of the night included a solo acoustic performance by lead singer Alex Gaskarth (“Therapy”) and a raucous rendition of “Time Bomb” that had Gaskarth and a pipsqueak of a fan named Lincoln pulling girls out of the crowd to get up onstage to party with a dancing T. Rex.
Compared to the controlled chaos of All Time Low’s tight, seasoned 90-minute set, the opening acts were unapologetically unrefined.
The band riding the most buzz is SWMRS, which features Joey Armstrong, son of Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, on drums. Recently signed to powerhouse rock label Fueled By Ramen, the group made a small splash back in 2015 with their ode to Miley Cyrus (simply titled “Miley”) in which they profess their love for the former Disney Channel star who they claim is a “punk rock queen.” That track and the more recent single “Figuring It Out” were the best of the 40-minute set.
Singer Cole Becker, who co-founded the band alongside Armstrong in 2004 when they were just in elementary school, was a spastic, twitchy jumble of spontaneity in a boxy black-and-white polka dot dress. He waffled between attempting to give the audience something meaningful to take away from the show — “Time for you to wake the f–k up. The moment you realize the future belongs to you, the better off we’ll be in 10 years” — and seemingly trying to confuse them: “Give it up for the woman who birthed you, your mother!” he said in between “Miley” and a song titled “D’You Have a Car?” Meanwhile, in a possible nod to the band’s off-center performance, Armstrong jettisoned the usual center-stage placement of his drum kit for a stage-left spot.
Also ones to watch are show opener The Wrecks, who made it on the bill with just one three-song EP under their belt that channels a punk rock combination of Jet (“Are You Gonna Be My Girl”) and The Black Crowes (“Hard to Handle”). Lanky, bespectacled lead singer Nick Anderson even slightly resembles the Crowes’ Chris Robinson, hopping around the stage with aplomb and self-deprecatingly telling the 2,500-capacity venue (which packed the place in time to catch the band despite a line that snaked around for blocks): “We’ve got 25 minutes to play a bunch of fucking songs you’ve never heard.” Despite that announcement, the audience ate up their set, especially a song titled “James Dean,” which “may be” the first single off their next EP, due this fall, according to Anderson.
Rounding out the jam-packed night was the catchy Waterparks, who lacked a bassist but seemed to have a pretty big fan following, especially for the waifish green-haired lead singer who resembled a punky Justin Bieber.