5 and a bit years ago, at age 14, I saw my favourite band live for the very first time. It was the first time I did a ‘wait’ for a gig. 11 hours, in January, in Manchester (the north of England, basically, it was cold). I have vivid memories of spending half an hour wandering around to find the closest McDonald’s which was only 5 minutes up the road and only realising I could cover my cold hands with my hoodie approximately 7 hours in.
Long story short, we still ended up at the back, I very almost ended up in a pit of angry 13 year olds and my best friend ended up in the first aid tent. We’ve seen them once a year since then, in smaller venues, in arenas, and 5 years later…back at the venue we saw them the first time around.
Manchester Apollo. Admittedly, not my favourite venue in the world. Mainly it’s because I associate it with almost freezing to death, partly because though the sloped floor gives you a pretty decent view it’s terrible for people with bad knees (aka…me). However, it has been the place I’ve seen a lot of my favourite bands live for the first time.
This year I was actually lucky enough to see them twice, due to the whole ‘moving to the edge of the country for University thing’ . So on the 10th of March I saw them at Southampton’s 02 Guildhall and on the 23rd I saw them at Manchester 02 Apollo.
I never get tired of seeing this band live, and part of the reason is because they know how to choose support acts. There’s never been an All Time Low gig where I’ve not enjoyed the support (The co-headline tour with You Me At Six and WalkTheMoon as support in 2015 anyone?!) and this year was no different.
Waterparks are one of those bands you can’t really put in a genre…maybe Emo Bubblegum Pop? I got to see them live at Slam Dunk Midlands last year (I also met front man Awsten Knight, I complemented his jumper and we discussed if it was possible to swim from England to France) and Leeds Festival. I did wonder why they were the first band on, till I realised this is a band that can make anybody dance.
SWMRS are a band you can’t listen too without picturing yourself driving down a palm tree lined California road in a beat up convertible. Described by some as Green Day’s protege’s with drummer Joey Armstrong being the son of Billie Joe Armstrong and going through multiple name changes, SWMRS, despite still being in the process of learning how to put a setlist together (WHERE WAS HARRY DEAN?) are a good soundtrack for Summer 2017, and an equally good live band.
All Time Low, however, are in a completely different region. I do complain regularly about their setlists never being the best (one song from Dirty Work…o n e s o n g), and then remember that there’s only so many songs you can play in an hour and a half slot with 6 albums out and a 7th on the way.
Between the odd spontaneous cover and onstage banter, Alex’s voice always leaves me as amazed as the first time I heard him sing Damned If I Do You on their first live CD. One second you’re dancing, then crying, then singing like you and the rest of the venue are marching into battle. Their shows are a bigger rollercoaster than anything you’ll find at Thorpe Park, and there’s no better sense of unity anywhere else.
The 23rd was a nostalgia trip. Being in a venue full of other fans who had probably grown with this band the same way I had, girls who had stopped throwing their bras on stage because they were old enough now to know that shit is expensive, younger fans who were seeing them for the first time (and I promise you it won’t be the last, because I doubt this band is going anywhere anytime soon) made it the best show yet.
Plus, I got closer this time.
BONUS CONTENT – 2nd time I saw All Time Low (I met Jack, this was the time the Ravens won the Superbowl and he didn’t take the hoodie off for weeks) and the 7th time I saw them.
Pre-order All Time Low’s new album on ITunes here.
Buy Waterparks’ debut ‘Double Dare’ on ITunes here.
Buy SWMRS’ debut ‘Drive North’ on ITunes here.