All Time Low at the Guildhall (2/2/2012)

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I was suitably astonished when I arrived at the Guildhall to see at least 100 teenage fans huddling in their onesies and value priced duvets around the icy cold square. I arrived a few hours early and after speaking to some of them, they revealed they’d been there since 7am! This is a sight you rarely see at the Guildhall but for All Time Low fans, they felt it necessary to show this sort of dedication. Another thing that surprised me was the age of the majority of these fans. With the average age being 14, I felt like a pensioner amongst all the sweeping fringes and converse trainers. This just demonstrates how their fan base has changed over the years and with the mainstream radio success over here in the UK, they have become a household name.

I managed to squeeze my way in, amongst the die hards at the front of the queue and got a barrier position for the gig. The first band were New York five-piece We Are The In Crowd. It was evident that they had already established a fan base over here in the UK as many of the teens surrounding me sung their hearts out to every word. A particular crowd favourite had to be ‘Kiss Me Again’ in which, to the crowd’s delight, Alex Gaskarth himself came and joined front women Taylor Jardine on the chorus. I can’t say they exceeded their job as a warm up act. Each song blurred into the next all sounding dreadfully similar, just another generic pop-punk band. I didn’t spot anything unique about them. However, saying this, they pleased their fans but may not have picked up any new ones.

Next up were The Maine, from Tempe, Arizona. I can honestly say they exceeded every expectation I held; they were incredible. Having released their album Pioneer back in December 2011, it was so good to hear these songs played live. Songs such as ‘When I’m At Home’ and my personal favourite ‘Some Days’ sounded so much better live and listening to these songs after the gig gives me goosebumps as I remember how great they sounded. The incredibly charismatic frontman John O’Callaghan pranced around the stage and had the audience in the palm of his hand. After being a victim of his onstage flirting I felt like I was one of the 13 year old fans surrounding me, blushing ridiculously with a grin stretching from ear to ear. This also made me the envy of the die hards, so I had to contain my smugness to an extent. They finished with ‘Don’t Give Up On Us’ described as ‘an anthem for a dying breed’ sung along by the majority of the crowd. After their sublime performance, I’m pretty sure everyone left the venue a new, or enhanced fan of The Maine.

The immaturity of the crowd really shone through when the stage was set for All Time Low. Literally every member of the band’s crew got a scream from the over-excited teens. When the band did actually appear, desperate screams filled the place when Alex Gaskarth, Jack Barakat, Zack Merrick and Rian Dawson took to the stage. They kicked of their performance with their latest single ‘Time Bomb’. Instead of leading one song into the other they stopped after each one in order to have the expected ‘banter’ with the crowd. Surprisingly it was lead by the guitarist Jack who enthusiastically ran around the stage and sat on speakers taking crowd interaction to a new level. After seeing All Time Low back in 2008, in the tiny, 350 capacity Orange Box in Yeovil, it was incredible seeing how much had changed since then. Jack’s mic stand was lined with about 20 guitar picks in which he incessantly threw into the crowd making the novelty of gaining a pick all the more gimmicky. The crowd inappropriately threw bras onstage and Jack placed them over his mic stand; it was clear that this happens, without fail, at every single show. It seemed like they’d hired someone to specifically removes bras from the stage as they may become a slipping hazard.

Their performance included a diverse range of tracks, including songs such as ‘Forget About It’ and ‘Guts’ from their new album Dirty Work whilst filtering in favourites from their back catalogue. One of the highlights of the set for me was the performance of ‘Heroes’, Alex asked permission from the crowd to play a ‘fast’ song which resulted in the formation of 3 mosh pits and lots of jumping around from the excited teens. The set, unfortunately, had to be cut down by a few songs due to Alex’s illness. After performing ‘Lost in Stereo’ and the band going off-stage, Alex came back alone, with just an acoustic guitar. He sincerely apologised to the crowd for the shortening of the set, thanking the audience for helping him sing the lyrics. He performed the spine-tingling ‘Remembering Sunday’ with so much heart it was hard to be angry at the band for not putting on a full show. The verse originally sung by Juliette Simms was sung back to Alex by each and every person in the room with just as much heart. Alex later tweeted “So bummed about my voice tonight. Sucks to feel like you’re helpless up there. Thank you all for singing so loudly.” The penultimate song ‘Weightless’ got the crowd going again after a short relaxation. They finished with the classic ‘Dear Maria, Count Me In’ in which the band put in all the effort they had left to leave Southampton with a good feeling about the gig.

Overall, despite the shortening of the show, they were great. Nothing about the show was half-hearted. I’m pretty sure all the fans felt that waiting in the cold for 12 hours was sincerely worth it.

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About Author

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I’m Megan Downing, an English Literature graduate from University of Southampton. I am the Music, Arts and Culture Editor for The National Student. I am the Membership and Communications Officer for the Student Publication Association, I write about music for 7BitArcade, and contribute regularly to The Culture Trip. I have a passion for live music and this is where I began in student journalism. Reviewing a gig or festival is still where my heart lies four years on. I will be starting at MTV as a News Intern in June 2015. One thing you should know about me is that I have an unhealthy obsession with Kevin Spacey.

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