All Time Low

support Blitz Kids
author AP date 21/02/14 venue Store Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

Given our editor-in-chief chose to travel up to the Finnish Lapland in the weekend, thus abandoning his reviewing duties, and that our usual connoisseur of all things glossy and mainstream had already committed himself to watching pompous pop rock at Falconer Salen, it was left up to me to stand in to cover All Time Low's annual Danish show. Despite arriving just in time for the evening's support act, all three bars at Store Vega are deserted, which I suppose is the strongest testimony to the nature of ATL's target audience.

Photos courtesy of Peter Troest

Blitz Kids

Since last watching them on the pub stage at Stag's Head at my former university in Southampton, England, Blitz Kids have blossomed into a much more popular band. They're obviously aware of it, too, commanding the audience into that side-to-side wave of the arms as the first thing they do - this amidst a deluge of deafening teenage screams - before proceeding to deliver a somewhat muddy rendition of "All I Want is Everything". Garbed in a tight tank top, and with his customary scarf draped around his waist, vocalist Joe James knows how to play this type of audience, and much to my surprise, it appears that the blob of people bunched together in front of the stage not only appreciate, but also know songs like "Run for Cover" and "Perfect" - catchy, if rather shallow tunes that have most people off their feet in no time.

James is also a capable vocalist - of that fact there is no doubt. And when injected the harmony of guitarist Jono Yates and bassist Nic Montgomery's backing vocals, one gets the feeling that Blitz Kids could easily cater to venues much larger than this one. Unfortunately, though their songs have immediate appeal, what they lack is personality. Alternative rock like this comes dime-a-dozen from the United Kingdom, and with the exception of closing track "Never Die", which bears a certain resemblance to Muse with its grandiose melancholia, Blitz Kids simply do not have the songs to form a lasting impression in my mind. The fact that across the ten songs aired tonight, not once is a guitar switched or even tuned is perhaps the greatest proof of the pressing absence of diversity in the quartet's repertoire. Blitz Kids do all they must, and indeed all they can, to stage a decent performance, but it never crosses beyond that.

6

All Time Low

If the shrill enthusiasm erupting in each lull during Blitz Kids' performance threatened to perforate our eardrums, then the volume of some 600 girls (and boys?) fainting in unison as All Time Low take the stage could probably be weaponised. Hundreds of cell phones rise to the occasion as the quartet's Danish and southern Swedish fans scramble to capture the entrance of their heroes in dismal quality to top off what is surely a vast collection of similar footage already, never to be watched again, and after a rap sample and some prohibition-era music, the hysteria begins. To me, the only thing separating All Time Low from the likes of Westlife is that they play their own instruments, and indeed, it does not take long before the total lack of substance begins to irk me. Seriously, how can nonsense like "Nana-naa nana-naa-naa" in "The Irony of Choking on a Lifesaver" be passed as a chorus?

Of course, All Time Low do not see themselves quite so superficial; they like to think of themselves as having some association to punk. During track two "So Long Soldier", vocalist/guitarist Alex Gaskarth's calls for a circle pit go unheeded - probably because very few of those in attendance can hear the plea from beneath their own senseless screaming, and by the time "For Baltimore" arrives as the fifth song, lead guitarist Jack Barakat's microphone stand is already draped in laced bras. Given some of these fans' parents are here to chaperone, it is disturbing, the amount of volunteering hands that go up when Barakat proceeds to tell us that he requires "water and a blow job" - and they sure as shit aren't offering him water.

It's tongue-in-cheek of course, but the humour grows terribly trite terribly fast, and despite getting off to a decent start with lots of energy and catchy tunes, the whole thing becomes a bit of a farce after a whopping 25 songs lobbed at us. It's nice to hear All Time Low still remember and play songs like the older "Stay Awake" as well, its overt Blink-182 influences striking a chord with me, but for every song that has me thinking "This is actually alright", I am punished by another "Lost in Stereo" or "Break Your Little Heart" which might well have earned more appreciation from me 13 years ago, but which now do little else than force a cringe upon my expression.

Mind you, I fully understand the mass appeal of this stuff, and I am more than willing to concede that I'm simply too old to derive as much enjoyment from it. The opposite is probably true of the chick who is invited on stage to share vocals with Gaskarth during one of the songs, and much to my surprise, she actually does a fantastic job at it. By this time Barakat's microphone stand is about to collapse from the weight of garments now on it, and I make a hasty exit toward the bar to try to formulate some kind of positive impression of the proceedings. What I come up with is this: All Time Low are apt entertainers, and their fans look to be extremely dedicated. As such, I'd wager that the performance is, to their fans, everything they hoped it would be - and at the very least, they're treated to a colossal setlist of songs to faint to. To me, however, it's still boy band pop, and I develop no further interest in it whatsoever based on tonight's revelation.

7

Setlist:

  • Do You Want Me (Dead?)
  • So Long Soldier
  • The Irony of Choking on a Lifesaver
  • Stella
  • For Baltimore
  • Break Your Little Heart
  • Lost in Stereo
  • Stay Awake (Dreams Only Last for a Night)
  • Six Feet under the Stars
  • Vegas
  • Guts
  • Weightless
  • Remembering Sunday
  • Therapy
  • Damned If I Do Ya (Damned If I Don't)
  • American Idiot (Green Day cover)
  • Coffee Shop Soundtrack
  • Somewhere in Neverland
  • Time-Bomb
  • Backseat Serenade
  • Oh, Calamity!

--Encore--

  • The Reckless and the Brave
  • A Love Like War
  • Dear Maria, Count Me in

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