Review: All Time Low, State Champs, Tonight Alive and Issues

By Katy Wilkie Photos by Benjamin Robson

April 22, 2015

The Fillmore in Charlotte was sold out on a Tuesday night when All Time Low brought the Future Hearts Tour into town with supporting bands State Champs, Tonight Alive and Issues. The venue was packed from front to back and wall to wall with people bursting with energy and ready to put it to good use.

The tone of the night was immediately set when the five-piece New York based pop-punk band, State Champs, took the stage with their opening song “Remedy”. The energy in the room immediately went full throttle and affirmed the tone for the night: it was going to be rowdy. The crowd pushed forward with everyone desperately trying to get to the front. The band’s energy on stage was infectious. The more lead singer Derek DiScanio moved on stage the more the crowd responded; mosh pits opened and crowd surfers sailed across a sea of bodies. DiScanio, much like the crowd, never stopped moving, but his vocals remained exceptionally strong and he never missed a beat.

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Photo by Benjamin Robson

The bands instruments were flawless and loud, fulfilling the ultimate expectation at punk-rock show. Their sound is fun, fast and punchy with a guitar strong driven essence. There was never a lull in their set, fans sang their lyrics back at them as loud as they could with their fists in the air as the band coursed through their set list which included “Nothing’s Wrong”, “Prepared to Be Noticed”, “Deadly Conversation” and “Easy Enough”. By the time they got to the band’s newest single from their acoustic album The Acoustic Things, the rest of the band had left the stage, leaving DiScanio center stage with an acoustic guitar. The stage was lit up with lights focused on DiScanio as he strummed the first chord of the song and sang out “Hello, sunshine.” The crowd focused their energy on singing the song back as melodically as they could manage.

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Photo by Benjamin Robson

State Champs brought the jumping, pushing and screaming energy back into the crowd with their final two songs, “Simple Existence” and “Elevated”. Though the energy was in the room from the start, the band really set the crowd off with the end of their set. DiScanio jumped off of the stage during the end of “Elevated” to stand at the barricade and sing with the crowd, a move that had the whole venue lunge forward in an attempt to get to him. Despite being the smallest band on the bill, State Champs is certainly one of those band that change the typical concert dynamic; they make the venue feel like a community and the stage is their home.

The Syndey, Australia natives, Tonight Alive, came out to a dark stage with lead singer Jenna McDougall singing accapella before the lights flashed and the band jumped right into “Lonely Girl”, causing the venue broke out into piercing screams. From the get-go, the band’s stagecraft and immeasurable energy was enough to impress. McDougall managed to produce an enormous vocal performance that didn’t falter despite her bouncing around the stage and beckoning the crowd to get even crazier. The rest of the band was entirely on the same page, their live rendition of their music was clean and practiced. Guitar players Whakaio Taahi and Jake Hardy delivered seamless riffs with sonic power while drummer Matt Best and bassist Cam Adler delivered the big beats that had the crowd punching their hands into the air.

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Photo by Benjamin Robson

The band whipped through their set with unmatched ferocity, barely pausing to even catch a breath before they were onto their fourth song of the night, “Listening”. McDougall exchanged a beck and call with the crowd as she shouted “You listening” and the crowd returned with even more fervor “are you listening” back to her outstretched mic. The stage quieted down when the band got to their last two songs and McDougall asked, “What are you so scared of, Charlotte?” the audience replied with screams before McDougall told the crowd to repeat after her the lyrics: “From this day, I refuse to live in fear of someone else’s judgement.” The crowd repeated the phrase twice before the band broke out into What Are You So Scared Of? Finally, Tonight Alive concluded their set with “The Edge” which was featured in the soundtrack of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Based on their performance in Charlotte, there is no doubt that soon Tonight Alive will be selling out U.S. venues on their own.

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Issues photo by Benjamin Robson

After the pause of the set change, the crowd packed in as tight as they could for the Atlanta based band, Issues, who opened their set with the Pokemon theme song. The band without a doubt broke the mold that rested in the other bands on the bill, but they controlled the excited crowd regardless of the swift genre change. Tyler Carter’s smooth vocals were perfectly balanced with the ferocious growl of Michael Bohn as both captivated the crowd. At this point of the evening, the crowd was a dangerous mix of mosh pits and crowd surfers. With the band egging them on, the crowd never stopped pushing, jumping and screaming throughout the band’s entire set. The band played a nine song set list that featured crowd favorite “Mad at Myself”, “Princeton Ave” and their explosive closing song “Hooligans”.

The venue was pitch black and filled with chants of “All Time Low! All Time Low!” before eardrum piercing screams were shrilled out as the band took the stage opening with “Satellites” from their new album Future Hearts. The song is chanty and beat heavy, the crowd was clapping with their hands above their heads as the music built and they chanted along to the infectious lyrics, “we were just kids, we were just kids singing.” The lights cascaded down on each of the band members, Alex Gaskarth on vocals, Jack Barakat on guitar, Zack Merrick on bass and Rian Dawson on drums. The song built up into a final shout and the lights went out leaving the fans screaming in the dark.

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Photo by Benjamin Robson

When the lights flashed back on the band dove directly into “The Irony of Choking on a Lifesaver”, the crowd was sent into a crowd surfing frenzy that would last throughout a majority of the bands set. The band transitioned to one of the crowd favorites, “Lost in Stereo”. Gaskarth grabbed his guitar for the first time of the night and brought back the classic All Time Low stage look that fans have grown to know over the years. The bands 19 song set-list included five songs from the new album but also catered to their older fans with “Six Feet Under the Stars” from their 2007 full length So Wrong, It’s Right. The live rendition of the song had the crowd over powering the band as they sung back the nostalgic lyrics. The crowd picked up their energy and started a mosh pit that would last until the band slowed it down for an acoustic segment.

Gaskarth stood on the stage by himself with an acoustic guitar slung across his body, shades of pink and purple lights haloed around him. The crowd waved their arms back and forth, cellphones and lighters were raised into the air as Gaskarth led the venue into a sing along of “Therapy”. Gaskarth stood back from the mic with a smile on his face as he strummed the guitar while he let the venue sing the chorus. The acoustic segment lasted for the bands new song “Missing You”. The song started with Gaskarth telling the fans that “it gets better” before starting the song by himself. The rest of the band came out as the song built up and the crowd sang along, “It only takes a little push to pull on through/with so much left to do/ you’ll be missing out and we’ll be missing you.”

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Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low. Photo by Benjamin Robson

The band picked the energy back up with their powerhouse song “Long Live the Reckless and the Brave” before they set the venue off with a performance of “A Love Like War” which featured Tonight Alive’s frontwoman, Jenna McDougall on guest vocals. The band was nearing the end of their set when they brought roughly 10 people out of the crowd to join them onstage for “Time Bomb”, an undoubtedly unforgettable experience for their fans. They ended their set with their current single “Something’s Gotta Give”, an explosive performance that showed their new songs can hang just as well with their old material on the set list. While some began filing out of the venue, a majority of the crowd stayed and chanted for All Time Low to play a few more songs.

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Photo by Benjamin Robson

After a brief intercession the band once again took the stage and performed an encore of “Kids in the Dark”, “Jasey Rae” and their signature closing song “Dear Maria, Count Me In” which had just gone platinum before the show. The night was filled with incredible light production, confetti that showered over the crowd and fans coming together to sing their hearts out with their favorite band. All Time Low’s set-list showcased the band’s maturity and transformation over the years, dating back to their first album. They know how to connect with their fans even with a barricade separating them and have perfected the chemistry of a pop-punk show. It’s without a doubt that the Future Hearts Tour marks a new chapter in All Time Low’s career that will launch them into even bigger venues.

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