For a good time, hit up a Four Year Strong show.
I went to the AP Tour this past weekend at the House of Blues Sunset Strip, and it was quite fun.
On the bill: FYS, Gallows, Title Fight, The Swellers, & Sharks.
We only showed up in time to catch the last song of Sharks’ set, but being as I’m a fan of The Clash, I dug their English-styled punk energy. It’s not hard to see who their influences are as a band, but they do it well.
Next up were The Swellers, who released one of my top albums of 2011, Good for Me, earlier in the year. Their roughly 30-minute set only included four of those songs, with the rest coming from their previous albums, as they do have three full-length records.
The crowd didn’t seem too familiar with their songs, but the Swellers really have a good thing going for them: Good for Me struck a chord with my inner 1990’s kid with its nods to old-school Weezer, Foo Fighters, and The Get Up Kids, and the way they’re able to blend those influences with their own unique style really help them stray from the pack of the indie-pop-punk bands currently battling it out for the attention of twentysomethings everywhere. They're also great live.
I had seen Title Fight two times already this year, but their performance this time was my favorite. I hadn’t really gotten into their music yet, as I tend to shy away from bands that use yelling as their main source vocals, but these kids do it exceedingly well. They played some songs from their 2011 album Shed, including Crescent-Shaped Depression (featured below), and in the end I think I’ll give the album another spin or two.
It’s funny to me that I saw them twice already this year and didn’t really dig their style, but somehow the third time was indeed the charm. They may be young, but they’re definitely on the rise. The crowd loved them, as well, with many of the dudes in the pit rushing to the front and passionately singing along with vocalists Ned Russin and Jamie Rhoden.
The last time I saw Gallows was in 2009, when they were led by the fiery, intense, and heavily-tattooed (and moderately intimidating) Frank Carter. He took the Warped Tour crowd that had gathered to watch his British hardcore/punk band and placed them in the palm of his hand, conducting much of their set that day from the middle of a huge and violent circle pit. Check it out.
Well, Carter quit the band recently, his replacement coming in the form of Wade MacNeil (former guitarist of Alexisonfire). The visual difference is stark: at one point on Saturday night MacNeil made reference to that, as he “doesn’t have red hair”, noting also that he’s endured some flak since replacing a front man such as Carter. And yet, despite the difficulty that goes along with stepping in and taking over for someone as engaging as Carter was, MacNeil did his best. He and the band ripped through songs from 2009’s Grey Britain and their upcoming EP with a relentless fury that found MacNeil out in the pit orchestrating windmill kicks.
He may not be quite as intense and scary onstage as Carter was, but to say Gallows has lost any of the stage presence they had in the past would be a disservice to the fantastic showmanship he and the rest of the band employed at this show. They’re still a force with which to be reckoned, definitely.
Four Year Strong, whose new album In Some Way, Shape, or Form hits stores this week, wasted no time with their headlining set, launching right into What The Hell is a Gigawatt?, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
I had seen FYS at this same venue when they toured for Enemy of the World, but it was easy to see that they’ve improved their live show greatly since then. They’re a much tighter band now, technically speaking, with vocalists Dan O’Connor and Alan Day taking turns ramping up the fans between songs.
The band blended some fan favorites from Enemy of the World and the now-classic Rise or Die Trying with a few selections from In Some Way, Shape, or Form, which did help demonstrate the contrast between their back catalogue and where they are now. Just Drive, Falling On You, Stuck in the Middle, and (to a lesser extent) Fairweather Fan are pretty different stylistically from tunes like Prepare to Be Digitally Manipulated and On a Saturday, and the band is now definitely straying a bit from the pedigree that made them become leaders of the pop-punk/hardcore genre within the past four years. Despite their creative shift, though, the new songs translated better live than they do on the new album, and the fans’ enthusiasm for them indicated at least to me that they won’t give up on the band just because they’ve changed their sound a bit.
Four Year Strong have worked hard the past few years to get where they are now, and they deserve to headline a tour as big as the AP Tour. Gallows, Title Fight, The Swellers, and Sharks are all on the rise as well, making this a pretty sweet lineup of some of the most promising bands of their respective genres. That makes for a fun night, and this show definitely delivered.
Below, enjoy more videos and a gallery of images from the night's festivities.