On Sept. 5, the 9:30 Club hosted a pop-punk marathon of five bands from across the country. As the first band, All Time Low, took the stage, a wave of scantily clad teenage girls and spiky-haired teenage boys rushed toward the stage and packed each other as tightly as possible against the rail.
All Time Low is made up of four 18-year-olds just out of high school. Don’t be fooled by their age though; their performance technique and chops have been honed over three years, and their dedication to music shows. The band’s youthful exuberance and charisma were compelling, and with guitarist/singer Alex Gaskarth leading the way with some Angus Young leg kicks, even the older crowd had some energy to feed off of.
“It’s always been our intent to play good-times music,” Gaskarth said after the show. A strong closing with title track “Put Up or Shut Up” set the stage for a great concert from some more experienced bands.
The next group of “musicians,” Just Surrender, came out screaming and crashing and didn’t look back. Not only were the lyrics indiscernible, but I could barely hear the drums over the distortion of the guitars. After a half-hour set that seemed to last forever, an ever-growing crowd seemed unshaken and ready for more.
Northern Virginia-based “Over It” took the stage to “Superhero” by Jane’s Addiction (the Entourage opening song). A mix between “Switchfoot” and “Tool,” “Over It” seemed to be in their element and performing well. The music was mediocre, but the energy that the band brought to the stage was undeniably fun to see. It is clear that the self-proclaimed “road warriors” have managed to reach their intended audience with what lead singer Peter Munters calls “songs that are increasingly memorable and soulful.”
After “Over It,” it seemed as if the audience had done just that.gotten over it. By the time indie-rockers This Day and Age took the stage, there were only about 200 people left in attendance. Had they stayed, they would have seen innovation at its best.
Once the band had completed their sound-check, they proceeded to set up four lamps around the stage, with large oil-paintings near each one. Despite the plethora of instruments on the stage, the stacks of amps and keyboards, and a floor covered in effects-pedals, they actually managed to make the stage at the 9:30 Club look like a living room. A drum-circle opening brought the tension to a head quickly, which was played off of nicely by the band. I would liken them to a more entertaining version of Death Cab for Cutie, but with less talent to back it up.
Finally, at long last, after over three hours and four bands, headliners Amber Pacific were ready to take the stage. Though they had made scattered cameos throughout the evening with other bands, they came out to a fresh and excited crowd. With songs like the aptly named “Poetically Pathetic,” the emo-wannabees failed miserably to impress. The music market is flooded with cookie-cutter punk bands, and Amber Pacific is not close to setting itself apart from the rest of the ever-growing, ever-redundant pack.
Fans of punk, I’m sure, were not disappointed with the showing. Five hours of ear-splitting distortion and wrist-breaking drum beats are hardly what I would call disappointing; but, I expect more from a band that’s headlining a national tour. Fortunately for them, because of memorable performances from All Time Low, and This Day and Age, all was not lost, and fans across the country will be treated to 60 percent of a great concert.