The fans filling Central Park for All Time Low were adolescent, caffeinated, and strategically dressed for crowd-surfing. For the most part though, the guards weren’t having it. As SummerStage welcomed three thrashy openers – The Wrecks, Waterparks, and SWMRS – to soak up screams before the headliners, we saw several young girls make it up, over, and all the way to the pit, only to find themselves roughly flung out by the shoulders. Their “totally worth it” facial expressions were reassuring, but it was startling to see such aggressive security with kids whose biggest act of defiance was having pink or purple hair. When the surfing became less of a random thing and more like a fast-moving deli line to the front, the guards eventually softened, and even found a way to get into the crowd’s good graces. Combatting the burning sun, they doused the front-row fans with a garden hose, and poked holes in cold water bottles to send them soaring and spraying overhead.
Fittingly, most of the drenching was happening during Waterparks and SWMRS, but we weren’t among the ones to get soaked, since we were offstage interviewing The Wrecks (coming soon to P&W!). The L.A.-based band had really impressed us with their opening set, which stood out from the others as being more grungy and less poppy – and for them, was the favorite set of their tour. The 5 of them rocked hard all over the stage as they gave us a taste of their forthcoming EP, and kids were screaming way early for “Wasted Youth” “I Don’t Like You,” “Way With Words,” “James Dean” and “Turn It Up.” Though frontman Nick Anderson revealed to everyone that he had just blown out his voice, he pushed through with a vigorous performance and twice the energy, making the few raspy moments sound like they were just part of the grunge. When The Wrecks whipped out their hit single, “Favorite Liar,” they seemed to secure their place in this particular scene, and our subsequent interview with Nick was surrounded by autograph-hungry girls.
With all the commotion that had led up to the headliners, All Time Low’s 8:18pm start time felt like another show altogether. And for many fans, it was THE show – the one their entire summer had revolved around – so the screams were deafening as Alex Gaskarth, Jack Barakat, Rian Dawson, and Zack Merrick took the stage. Jumping straight into “Last Young Renegade,” the first track and title of their newest LP, their pop punk sound was many-layered and polished, and the number of hands reaching up to them was somewhat astounding. As they pounded through the setlist they’ve followed throughout this tour, including new album favorites like “Dirty Laundry,” “Life of the Party,” “Good Times,” and “Drugs & Candy,” it was easy to see how they’d been gathering fans since 2003. In fact, one girl’s homemade sign announced that it was her 21st birthday and her 21st All Time Low show – a record that could rival even a Phishhead. And one thing you won’t see at a Phish show: numerous bras flying up to the stage, then hanging off mic stands like some kind of ritual offering. Hypnotized by the colorful backlights and animated graphics that exploded behind their heroes, the partially-braless audience was jumping, singing, and squealing like there was no tomorrow.
If there was any question why the members of All Time Low are so adored, it was answered early on in the show. “Help her up!” urged Alex between songs. “Help her up, help her up!” Everything stopped as the frontman addressed the center of the tangled crowd. “If you see someone fall down, make sure you don’t dilly dally,” he urged, once he had ensured everyone’s safety. “Turn to the people right next to you and say ‘let’s help them up!’ Promise right now. Say ‘I will’!” he commanded. The resounding “I WILL” that came back to him was almost louder than the song before it. For a band with so much influence, who could probably make a crowd say or do anything, it was nice to see them hone in on such a worthy, modest cause. And no wonder so many people love the feeling of their live shows. If just one fan isn’t happy, that’s one too many for this band.
Photos: Shayne Hanley
Article: Olivia Isenhart