Words by Shelley Te Haara

After playing UNIFY music festival and completing a small Australian tour, Four Year Strong arrived in Auckland to play to an intimate crowd at Auckland’s King’s Arms as part of their anniversary tour, celebrating 10 years of their album Rise or Die Trying

Kicking off the show were local band Written by Wolves. The band wasted no time building up to peak volume, and I was given a bit of a fright as it was definitely louder than expected but luckily, I came armed with earplugs. The set went on for around an hour and included most of the band’s singles, including their latest release To Tell You The Truth. The 4 members were quite squashed on the small stage due to the gear already set up for the headline act, but they managed to make the most of it, bringing a good amount of energy and working with the space they had. The crowd didn’t seem to get too crazy but this was clearly to harbour energy for later on in the night. 

Next up was a short set from another local band, Lookin Up. The band hasn’t played a show since 2016 and in that time had a change in line-up, as original lead vocalist Rowan Crowe left the band to be replaced Luke. This was the band’s first performance back and sadly this was immediately evident as the technical difficulties that riddled the night began. Luke’s vocals weren’t very loud, however it didn’t seem to phase the crowd that much as they head banged along to each song. I will say it would have definitely still been enjoyable as an instrumental as well because the music made you want to move, and the muffled vocals didn’t totally ruin the impact this had on the crowd.   

Finally, as the support’s gear was cleared from the stage, the crowd got ready for what they had all been wildly anticipating. After a short wait, American pop-punk band Four Year Strong took the stage and as they dived straight into it, so did the crowd. They kicked off the show with What the Hell is a Gigawatt? off their album Enemy of the World and followed with Who Cares off their self-titled album. Then came practically every track off Rise or Die trying in order of the album track list. After playing Maniac they mixed it up again ending their set with Float, It Must Suck and Wasting Time. Clearly a good decision, since the crowd went completely crazy.

During the set, vocalist Alan Day took the time to chat with crowd, commenting on the fact that they clearly liked the covers album as the crowd sang while the band sorted out tuning. He then went on to acknowledge a woman in the crowd who had raised her hand. As it turns out, her name is Jo and it was her birthday. Incredibly, she was welcomed on stage to receive a hug from each member. However, Alan was quick to remind her that she said “hug” not “hugs”, before informing her that only way to leave the stage was to dive into the crowd. She was a bit nervous but as the band launched into their next song, she jumped, successfully surfing the crowd before being gently put down to enjoy the rest of the set. She was not the only crowd surfer that night as you’d imagine. The crowd chanted for an encore at the end of the set, but it was clear that it wasn’t going to happen.

Apart from the technical difficulties that occurred frequently throughout the night, the band put on one hell of a show. From avid crowd-surfers during the set, to the frantic post show merch buying, the band’s fans were consistently covered in sweat and filled with pride. Four Year Strong came and they conquered.

Written by Wolves’ next performance is at The King’s Arms Tavern opening for We the Kings.

Lookin Up are getting back into playing shows with their own headline tour in February. Check out the band’s Facebook page for more details.

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