All Time Low

support UpUpDown
author TL date 15/06/11 venue Lille Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

Entering Lille Vega on this fine wednesday evening would normally mark a classic occassion to poke a little fun at the young audience that follows an unquestionably 'pop' band like All Time Low. It is indeed the kind of congregation with a throng of youngsters, barely in high school I'm guessing, dressed to impress in many wildly experimental fashions, crowding the front of the venue and screaming at every drop of a drum stick, while out-of-place parents nervously hug the bar, clearly not feeling like this is their home-turf. I'm not going to poke fun of them though, because I was just at a grown-up's show (Eels), and tonight's audience has one major advantage over the Eels crowd. Y'all are short. Surely, that sounds patronizing, but in all honesty, I love that I can see the stage from everywhere in the venue, so please, I implore you, the generation chasing mine; please don't grow taller than 170 cm or so. I love you just the height you are. And with that said, let's get to the serious business: talking about the actual shows.

UpUpDown

For Copenhagen powerpop-trio UpUpDown, this show is probably the most important one of their young career so far. After all, the trio (that turns into a quartet when playing live) seem to have quite shameless ambitions as a fun, straightforward pop-rock band, so playing to All Time Low's crowd should be the perfect opportunity to harvest a score of new fans. Maybe that's why the guys seem a tiny bit nervous, messing up in a song and having to restart it mid-set. Bassist Morten Tranberg-Hansen steps up to the task of addressing the audience, expressing an honest excitement to be playing, and encouraging people to clap along on appropriate occasions. The audience, on their part, seem happy to oblige, and indeed there seems to be quite a bit of dancing going on. Of course, considering that this crowd has screamed as loudly for each song that came on the stereo before the band started playing, it's hard to say if that's just what they do, or if they are truly extra excited for UpUpDown, but at least they do look the part. As for the band, omitting the one fuck-up, they play an otherwise hassle-free show, with plenty of easily-enjoyable tunes to go around. You can point out a lot of small things, like maybe keeping their cool a little more when adressing the crowd, maybe having a bit more tricks in the bag than just the 'clap along' motion and maybe also being a little better at looking up and including more than the front lines of the venue. Those are small comments indeed though, and things that likely will come along as the band gets to play more shows this size, and for now, they handled the challenge quite acceptably.

7

All Time Low

As All Time Low come on stage, the whiny screams of course intensify appropriately, and hence I first blame them for my not being able to properly make out the lyrics of opener "Do You Want Me (Dead)". It soon turns out however, that the normal improvement in sound that you can expect from support band to headliner, hasn't manifested yet, and hence while things aren't bad, the lower end of frontman Alex Gaskarth tend to dip a little below the instruments. A problem which is to decrease over the course of the show, but never quite disappear. After the opener, ATL follow with three quick hits from second album "Nothing Personal", which the crowd is clearly familiar with, seeing how they dance and sing vividly to the tones of "Break Your Little Heart" and "Damned If I Do Ya". Gaskarth, for his part, looks slightly tour-worn, which is no surprise considering the round of festival appearances the band has had before coming to this, for them relatively small show. Still though, him and his band prove that they could probably engage an audience in their sleep, as they still pull the moves, step away from and up to the mic etc., at exactly the right times, strike their chords with the proper swag, and address the audience when appropriate. Stereotypes like "This is our first time here, wow here's beautiful", " We're so glad to finally play a small stage after all those festival appearances" and "Wow, the girls here are pretty!" get aired, even though the latter is bordering on pedophilia on a night like tonight.

Meanwhile the band sandwiches their new single "I Feel Like Dancin'" in between old songs "Coffee Shop Soundtrack" and "Jasey Rae", which certainly helps it go down with an audience which seems admirably attentive even during these two oldies. At some point a roadie has snuck on stage to hang a collection of bras on guitarist Jack Barakat's mic-stand, which he seems to have forgotten to bring on stage. I have time to notice how Barakat and Gaskarth obviously provide the visual focal point for the band, as bassist Zack Merric and drummer Rian Dawson appear slightly more casual while the two guitarists dutifully brandish their instruments and scale up and down monitors to keep the show energetic. As the show progresses with fine pop-numbers like "Six Feet Under The Stars" and "Lost In Stereo", Gaskarth seems to be enjoying himself a bit more, although his demeanor is still slightly laid-back compared to the bouncy energy you can expect from the band when they're firing on all guns. During the songs, I notice a roadie playing guitar at the back of the stage, questioning what that brings to the show, and between them, All Time Low crack handfuls' of Blink 182-ish jokes, betraying their abundance of admiration for that band. It's a bit of an odd fit, the adolescent humour, and the super slick pop songs played to perfection, but only when given more though than is actually needed.

After a brilliant airing of the acoustic "Remembering Sunday", the band leaves the stage for the traditional pre-encore break, and the crowd predictably starts screaming their name. They run on to the starting notes of "Time Bomb", which is soon stopped short by Gaskarth, who rips the drummer and crew for 'ruining the best encore EVER', proclaiming that all of them are fired on the spot. The stunt is obviously pre-planned, but it still makes many an audience member crack a smile, so the mood is still great when the band performs "Time Bomb" for real. They follow it up with a cover of Jimmy Eat World's "The Middle", which I personally feel gets a rather lacklustre response (cmon youngsters! know your classics dammit!) but it still earns the band some brownie points in my book. Proceedings are then brought to a predictable end via "Weightless" and "Dear Maria", both of which are great songs, that get the singalongs cranked up that extra half a notch that is only fitting for an encore. Overall, I doubt too many attendees leave the venue thinking that they were treated to a decisively poor showing, and while I personally think the band has much more to give in terms of energy and showmanship, on a day when they are fully motivated, I still have to recognize tonight's show as a valiant and solid display from a band playing a small venue in the middle of a long tour.

Setlist:

  • 1. Do You Want Me (Dead)
  • 2. Break Your Little Heart
  • 3. Damned If I Do Ya (Damned If I Don't)
  • 4. Stella
  • 5. Coffee Shop Soundtrack
  • 6. I Feel Like Dancin'
  • 7. Jasey Rae
  • 8. Six Feet Under The Stars
  • 9. Sick Little Games
  • 10. Poppin' Champagne
  • 11. Lost In Stereo
  • 12. Remebering Sunday
  • --Encore--
  • 13. Time Bomb
  • 14. The Middle (Jimmy Eat World cover)
  • 15. Weightless
  • 16. Dear Maria

For more photos see Jill Decome Photography

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