For All Time Low fans, the live experience is everything. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why fans in New Zealand might feel a bit short changed. After all, it took them 7 years to finally make it over here for the first time in 2013, and even after that we had to wait another agonising 2 years between return visits. We get it though. We’re small and stupidly far away from literally anything, and all it means is that when they do finally make it over here, we appreciate it all the more. All Time Low always reward us for our patience and loyalty, which I guess brings us full circle as to why the live experience is so damn important: it’s like, out of this world kind of amazing.

Before the doors even opened for Wednesday evening’s show, all ticket holders were given an opportunity to attend a signing with the band simply by pre-ordering the upcoming record Last Young Renegade (coming June 2nd, just FYI), as well as offering a meet and greet opportunity to all members of their Hustler Fan Club and a few competition winners. It can sometimes take a while for bands to break down the barriers between themselves and the fans at a show, and for many it never happens, but for All Time Low, they just never put them up in the first place.

That’s why, when they finally took to the stage after a killer opening slot by Auckland’s own Openside (who, by the way, are getting better with every performance and we should be very excited for their new music), there seemed to be an instant connection between the band and the crowd. Setting the night off with the old fave Weightless and then transporting us back to their first NZ headline show with Somewhere in Neverland, there was instant engagement from everyone in the room, and as they finally got to play us something from Future Hearts (aka the album cycle that eluded NZ entirely), I found myself crying for the first time that night as we yelled the lyrics to Cinderblock Garden and danced our little hearts out.

Lead singer Alex Gaskarth and lead guitarist Jack Barakat spent the evening talking to us with ease, as though we’ve known each other for years – which I suppose in a way we have – and we all laughed as Jack addressed his misspelling of Auckland (or ‘Aukland’) in a Tweet on entry into our fine country. Self-deprecating humour is what this band does best, and there were numerous occasions throughout the evening during which we were able to laugh at their expense, and while naturally, as fans, we probably would have laughed at literally anything that came out of their mouths, I genuinely believe I still would have chuckled at the outrageous idea of Auckland being the “orgy capital of the world” had they simply been mere mortals.

Getting away from orgies and back to business, the foursome launched into A Love Like War, a song they originally recorded with Vic Fuentes of Pierce the Veil, and which is probably my current favourite out of all of their collaborations. It was at this point that I took a metaphorical step back and made the effort to really consider the sincerity of their music and of their performance over the next few songs, and suddenly it became hard to believe that the mind behind lyrics such as “what a shame, beautiful scars on critical veins” – a line in Kids in the Dark that we sang back with urgency – and the minds that have curated such stunning albums for all these years, were also the minds that could stand there and just be absolute unabashed idiots. It’s this kind of behaviour that makes these live shows so important to their fans, because while we get to know the deeper wanderings of Alex’s mind through their music, it is these interactions that allow us to see what they may be like when they’re just hanging out with their best friends. It’s a whole package with these guys, and in these moments it is easy to understand how they’ve built up such a fiercely loyal fanbase.

Following Something’s Gotta Give, which saw a room full of people on their mighty friends’ shoulders, and the continental premiere of the title track from the upcoming album Last Young Renegade, the band left Alex to stand alone with just his electric guitar in the centre of the stage, prepped to perform a universal fan favourite (because we’re all masochists), Therapy. Frankly, anticipating what was to come I had started crying before he had even strummed the first notes, and so the next 3-4 minutes was a blur (literally – my eyes were a misty mess), but I do recall the smile on Alex’s face as the thousand or so crowd members took over, and how warm it made me feel to know that there was a room full of people who were right there with me, also feeling the impact of those words.

Clearly sensing the diminishing good vibes (or just hearing our gut wrenching sobs), Alex made what might have been a successful attempt to cheer us up. That is, until the rest of the band not then rejoined him on stage to jump into the acoustically driven Missing You, beautifully showcasing Alex’s soft and sweet vocals, and setting us off all over again as we (or at least I) contemplated our importance on this earth. Slowly though, as All Time Low decided we, as Kiwis, needed more Lorde in our lives and graced us with a pretty bloody good rendition of Green Light, we found our dancing shoes again as the aptly incorporated green lighting lit up both stage and crowd.

Due to the show starting a few minutes late and having to adhere to curfews, the next song was to be the “last song”, as well as being Alex’s favourite out of all of the songs that All Time Low have ever written. Fun fact: the song in question – Take Cover – is one that was taken from their second live DVD Straight to DVD II, and the music video involves Alex wearing a pop punk style Taylor Swift singlet. Despite hearing whispers coming from people that didn’t recognise the song, there were plenty more that seemed absolutely stoked to be hearing it being played live for the first time, and the singalong that accompanied it made it the perfect choice for that “last song”.

It was, in fact, not the last song, and nobody was fooled in the slightest as we all began chanting, cheering, and clapping and whatever else we could think of in order to get the boys back on stage. After what truly seemed like 12 years, they were back for 3 whole songs that had all the old school fans squealing with delight. Lost in Stereo will never cease to send people into a wild frenzy, and the ancient throwback to Jasey Rae was welcomed with open arms and many tears, before I finally clambered on my friend’s shoulders to experience Dear Maria – the real last song – from 8 feet up in the air for what was definitely one of my top 10 concert experiences ever. For such a short set, it sure was crazy and exhausting, so to see every member of the crowd give everything they had left in those last few minutes was truly an ode to the limitless energy that All Time Low effortlessly create.

From start to finish, Jack bounced across the stage in a way that is not dissimilar to how you might imagine Tigger would, and equally as impossible to ignore, and there was a certain electricity reverberating between the 4 members that, in theory, you might think superhuman, particularly when maintained over the course of an hour and a half. For All Time Low, though, despite having been in America playing the MTV Awards Festival just 38 hours earlier, and feeling “batshit crazy”, there wasn’t a single moment where their energy wavered. They are born performers, both musically and in how they interact with the fans, and it never fails to feel just a little bit magical.

See the full Openside and All Time Low galleries below. All credit to CPM Photography.

SETLIST

Weightless
Somewhere in Neverland
Cinderblock Garden
A Love Like War
Backseat Serenade
Dirty Laundry
Kids in the Dark
Something’s Gotta Give
Last Young Renegade
Therapy
Missing You
Green Light
Take Cover

Encore
Lost in Stereo
Jasey Rae
Dear Maria

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