How to sum up All Time Low’s Reading performance…..boobs, bra’s and blowjob jokes, all set to a familiar Blink 182-esque tone. The American pop punk band returned to England for what turned out to be a fairly solid live performance, much to the delight of female fans whose bra’s littered the stage and dangled off front man Alex Gaskarth’s microphone stand.
Starting off in typical ALT fashion with “Lost In Stereo”, the Americans worked their way through an energy filled 11 song set, including the crowd rousing hits like “Stella” and “Time-Bomb”. The pinnacle of this performance was their cover of “Dammit” which transformed the slightly pumped crowd with relatively tame mosh pits, to the fully fledged one you’d expect from a headliner. Quite literally, it was like a ‘time-bomb set into motion’, the sort of atmosphere the previous 4 songs had been building up to but had never quite reached. The lead guitarist Jack Barakat spent the set running around in a t-shirt reading ‘boner’ and a crowd surfer dressed as some sort of green monsters was invited backstage for some ‘intimate’ time with the band (he declined). Fairly standard banter from the band.
Yet that was the main issue with the performance. It was standard. Apart from “Dammit”, the whole performance felt slightly lacking, as though ALT were on auto-pilot, performing as they had hundreds of times before, without thinking about it. Yes the crowd bounced to “Time-Bomb”, but they did not explode with excitement. Yes “Dear Marian, Count Me In” had the crowd singing, but they were not enthusiastically chanting. Of course the crowd interaction was entertaining but it never felt genuine. The performance did not sweep you from under your feet, rather it felt as though you had to put the effort in before properly enjoying the experience. This is not to imply that the performance was in any way bad, just that it was nothing special. Perhaps ALT simply struggled – like so many bands before them – to create the exciting and intimate atmosphere other bands received more easily from an indoor stage. Perhaps it was down to the band themselves. All we can say is that they met decent expectations, performed well and I’m glad I saw them. I just wish they’d put in a bit more effort. Harry Alexander Haslam