Originally published on Moonlight Magazine.
Pop music has a habit of making you feel like you could live forever. Punk music forces you to face your own mortality. Alternative music achieves both in the same breath and All Time Low is no exception.
Before their set at Lollapalooza, On July 26, 2021, All Time Low played their first show since the COVID-19 pandemic forced much of the U.S. to shut down in March of the previous year. Music venues had closed their doors and artists faced impossible odds even in our digital age.
Now, over a year later, concerts are picking back up and music artists are navigating the live scene with new eyes. Even before All Time Low took to the stage of the sold-out Basement East that Monday night, the room was buzzing. Not only was this All Time Low’s first show back in the game. Many in attendance hadn’t been to a concert since the onset of the pandemic. The excitement in the air was a new kind of palpable after the year we had all faced collectively. The idea of normalcy was galvanizing.
The audience was primed for the show by a DJ tossing out every angsty throwback you could want. We heard the greatest hits from Paramore, Blink-182, Panic! At The Disco, The All-American Rejects and even the beloved Olivia Rodrigo, who brought us back to the present.
Around 8:30 p.m., our headliners appeared matching the chaotic joy of the crowd. Guitarist Jack Barakat was sporting his purple hair and Alex Gaskarth brought his own bleach blonde flare held back by a bandana headband. But what really sold the look were the overalls, which only caused a minor scene when he struggled to keep them up as he jumped around the stage.
The band opened with “Some Kind of Disaster,” and thanks to some thoughtful fans, once Alex sang the phrase, “I’m the ghost of my mistakes,” The Basement East was filled with one message raised in the air: “Welcome back All Time Low. You’re (still) my favorite place.”
After this touching tribute, the band moved into “Dark Side of Your Room” and the floor really began to shake. By the third song, people were fighting the barricade and doing their best to crowd surf onto the stage.
*This is where I take a moment to remind you that security personnel at venues are there to protect you. Please stop pissing on them. Seriously, one of the fans pissed on a security guard. Let’s not do that. Keep up the energy, but let’s keep our fluids to ourselves. Thanks.*
In between songs, we heard from Alex and Jack as they bantered back and forth with bassist Zack Merrick and drummer Rian Dawson. It was clear from their interactions that they were just as happy to be there as their zealous audience.
For a moment, things slowed down with an acoustic rendition of “Missing You.” But the energy quickly picked up once again with the live debut of “PMA (Postmodern Anxiety),” their newest single released Friday, July 30, featuring Pale Waves. Not surprisingly, the crowd caught on immediately and sang along with heart and soul.
After 13 of their greatest numbers, All Time Low feigned leaving. (It’s just par for the course at this point). They came back in full force with “Monsters” and before the real final song, (“Dear Maria, Count Me In,” of course), Alex echoed the thoughts of everyone in the room, “I feel pretty f*ckin’ good. It feels good to be in a room of people.”
Nashville was ready and All Time Low came through. By the end of the show, the band was exhausted and sweaty. The audience was exhausted and sweaty. The security guard wanted some hand sanitizer. But I think I speak for everyone (sans the security guard), we would do it all over again tomorrow if we could.
Thankfully, Nashville doesn’t have to wait too much longer. All Time Low will be at Marathon Music Works on Aug. 22.