Live Review: All Time Low, Neck Deep, The Maine

13 May 2017 | 2:33 pm | Cristiana Linthwaite Gibbins

"The band’s ability to engage the entire audience is impressive and their inter-song banter is wildly entertaining."

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Brisbane’s youth are out in force on Friday night to celebrate the long-awaited return of the princes of pop punk, All Time Low, to Australian shores. The female-dominated audience, customarily attired in vans, black skinny jeans, brightly-dyed hair and band paraphernalia, swarm the pit of Riverstage to claim prime viewing positions for tonight’s star-studded show which includes supporting acts The Maine and Neck Deep.

The Maine has the crowd’s undivided attention from the get-go, with the mosh pit writhing with screaming fans, jumping and raising their hands in elation. The Maine, headliners in their own right, deliver a well-polished and highly engaging performance. They harness the zeal of the pit by inviting a lucky audience member on stage to sing along with them. The guy’s voice trembles into the microphone, as he seems hardly able to contain his excitement. The Maine exhibits a strong group dynamic and while the vocals are sometimes overpowered by the instruments, singer John O'Callaghan's pitching and blended tones mirror polished record quality to suit the sugary-pop-punk theme of tonight’s catalogue.

Neck Deep are heralded on stage by an accent-heavy rap verse thundering through the speakers, reflecting a clear shift across the Atlantic to the UK. The band launch straight into their set playing popular tracks from Wishful Thinking (2014), Rain In July/A History Of Bad Decisions (2014) and Life’s Not Out To Get You (2015). Fans hold their breath in the hope of hearing 2013 acoustic favourite, A Part Of Me, but are unfortunately disappointed in this regard, as Neck Deep opt for a high-energy, fast-paced performance. Neck Deep’s lead singer Ben Barlow infuses his vocals with a boyish charm to compliment the coming-of-age themed lyrics. He seamlessly switches to harsher, gravelly tones to emphasise passages of raw emotion and revelation. The instrumentalists also exude a boisterous magnetism as they dance across the stage, spinning with their instruments in a world of their own. The rockers from Wales also take a moment to promote their forthcoming third album, scheduled to be released later this year.

The venue plunges into darkness once more at 8.15, invoking a chorus of ear-splitting squeals as diehards re-converge in front of the stage. All Time Low arrive on stage to meet a sea of smiles and waving hands before opening with 2009 smash hit, Weightless. Band favourites Alex Gaskarth (lead vocalist) and Jack Barakat (lead guitar) hold their microphones (+ stands) up in the air for the audience to sing into. The crowd replies in turn by raising their voices and hurling a couple of bras on stage, promptly elevating the band to idol status with these worthy (and intimate!) tributes.

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The band plays popular songs from their last album Future Hearts (2015), including Somewhere In Neverland and Cinderblock Garden. These works are enthusiastically received by the audience, however the contrast in energy generated by tracks from older albums and those from newer works is obvious, as the jumping and screams, while still significant, plateaus. They also perform A Love Like War, visually accompanied by a flurry of red and yellow strobes which ignites the stage against the cloudy evening sky. Backseat Serenade injects the audience’s spirits with a fresh dose of liveliness as Gaskarth inserts a call-and-response segment into the chorus.

Tonight’s concert also includes the world premiere of All Time Low’s latest single Life Of The Party from their seventh studio album, Last Young Renegade, scheduled to be released on June 2. It reveals a clear creative maturation for the band, as it comprises a clear electronic element with pre-recorded layers accompanying their live performance. While Gaskarth’s vocals do waver on the angular intervallic jumps in the first chorus (presumably outside of his usual live singing register), he succeeds in breathing his heart’s very essence into each lyric.

This evening’s set list also includes Kids In The Dark, and the second single and title track from Last Young Renegade. Gaskarth takes the opportunity to thank the audience for their support throughout their artistic evolution, “I know it’s a bit different but thank you so much for giving it a go and getting on board…thank you for giving us a lane to work in and a very wide lane.” Following this, Gaskarth takes the stage solo for a stripped back rendition of beloved song from Nothing Personal (2009), Therapy. Looking around the audience, there are phone lights illuminating the venue, friends holding each other close and tears streaming down faces. This undoubtedly is the song which means most to the fans.

The second half of the concert includes Missing You, and an electric-charged cover of Lorde’s Green Light to which the mosh-pit turned into a euphoric dance party. Lead single from the upcoming album, Dirty Laundry, received a warm response from the audience who are more and more embracing All Time Low’s flirtation with electronica. The set also includes a electronic drum kit operated by drummer Rian Dawson, for those muted percussive tones, before switching the focus back to Bakarat who delivers an emotive guitar solo in the bridge. The final song of the main set is Take Cover which Gaskarth describes as a song released to help bridge the gap between Future Hearts and Last Young Renegade.

The fans are treated to a three-song encore and with feverish energy, the audience jumps and screams to Lost In Stereo, as if their lives depend on it. They cheer in jubilation at the performance of Jasey Rae from the band’s 2006 EP, Put Up or Shut Up. The night very suitably finished with high-energy Dear Maria, Count Me In, which sent the concert’s final moments into overdrive as confetti cannons showered the audience in red and white.

All Time Low prove themselves to be highly talented live performers as the quality of each song matches and even exceeds the skill captured in their studio recordings. Furthermore, the band’s ability to engage the entire audience is impressive and their inter-song banter is wildly entertaining (and hilariously inappropriate). Barakat is clearly the more mischievous of the two, unabashedly dolling out genitalia-themed humour, which is of course met with the adolescent squeals and swoons of the predominantly female audience below. All Time Low cleverly utilise tonight’s show to assist their fans in making the transition from their clearly defined pop punk era, towards a more mature, developed and electronic space which reflects where the band is at in their creative and personal journeys. By the end of this evening’s performance, it is reasonable to assume that even those who are sceptical of this change have been convinced (or at least more so!) and are now ready to join All Time Low in the next, exciting chapter of their creative careers.