All-American Rejects Bring The House Down
Published: Sunday, September 23, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
Middle school is the place where most people pay attention and make individual choices about music for the first time. Perhaps there are a few precocious folks who have their act together and know about bands who aren’t on the local Top 40 radio or playing from their parent’s collection, but they are few and far between. So for this generation, nothing reminds me so strongly of that first foray into music as a concert by bands who are confused about their genre like the alt-rock or pop-rock or (what musicians’ dubbed themselves at the concert on Saturday, Sept. 22) rock n’ roll.
For co-headliners, the All-American Rejects and Boys Like Girls, the last distinction is a stretch. But all three sets—including the warm-up band, The Ready Set—attempted to channel the high energy and crowd interaction of rock n’ roll, even if their musical depth doesn’t match their performance styling.
Although they were a frustrating and unexplained half hour late to start the show, The Ready Set held their own in a short set, The Ready Set held their own in a short set, breaking into a minute of “Gangnam Style” with the singer jumping onto drums for the only cover of the night in all three sets.
Although they are touring together and have a very similar sound, the personalities of the All-American Rejects and Boys Like Girls are complete opposites, particularly in the way they interact with the crowd.
Case in point, both Tyson Ritter (of All-American Rejects) and Martin Johnson (of Boys Like Girls) jumped into the crowd. Johnson, with the help of security, perched himself on the front barricade, and reached into the crowd for half of “Hero / Heroine.” Meanwhile, Ritter chose to climb the scaffolding stage left, getting up to the mezzanine level where fans reached out—which probably helped him stay on such thin boards—and halfway across to the balcony before apparently getting stuck and reversing. According to House of Blue personnel, this was a planned stunt, but Ritter’s seeming intoxication throughout the set made it appear incredibly dangerous.
Similarly, both bands interacted with the crowd between every song. Ritter dominated the microphone, barely taking note of his other band members, and making very odd statements like “little boys and little girls who are here tonight” in an almost whisper and saying that he had spent “more time in Boston than I have in any of my girlfriends.”
In contrast, Boys Like Girls took time to sing “Happy Birthday” to a fan they had talked with at the meet-and- greet, repeatedly said how much it meant to play in front of the House of Blues crowd in his home town (all of the band members are from suburbs of Boston), and announced that instead of taking an encore, they were going to drop down in front of the barricade for pictures with fans. So while Ritter definitely enjoys a crowd, he takes it from a self-centered place and soaks up the limelight. Johnson and Boys Like Girls’ banter (with each other and the crowd) was more indicative of a respect for the fans. In that sense, Ritter was right to call their music rock because he has a rock star attitude.
And it is not without some justification. The All-American Rejects had a stellar set, leaning more heavily on their previous albums’ hits—kicking off with an odd “O Fortuna” clip that led into “Dirty Little Secret,” the band got in “Move Along,” “I Wanna,” “Gives You Hell,” and “It Ends Tonight” in about an hour-long set with still time for a few of their lesser known tracks, like “Heartbeats Slowing Down,” which Ritter said was the band’s favorite song they had ever written.
Boys Like Girls very heavily favored their first, eponymous album, as opposed to the 2009 Love Drunk. Drawing on the crowd’s singing, Ritter had an interesting spin on their hit “Great Escape,” singing different harmonies on every chorus while the audience had the melody. And while it’s fairly easy to rile a crowd up to sing at the top of their lungs, the band also brought a quiet to the House of Blues, orchestrating a hushed chorus building into “Be Your Everything,” which sampled dubstep.
While there are plenty of aspects of middle school that are better left in the cobwebs, reliving your first album or first concert with throwback bands is one of the better memories, and both headliners delivered wonderful nostalgia this weekend.