It has been a few years since The All-American Rejects were in our area, that being said it wasn’t entirely their fault that they haven’t spent much time in Pennsylvania. Shortly after the release of their 2012 album, Kids in The Street, they were set to play at the Sands Event Center with Blink-182 but the show got cancelled because of Travis Barker needing surgery. They did tour later that year with BoysLikeGirls and came through the Philadelphia area but since then we haven’t heard much from them. There has been rumors surfacing online of a new album in the works and then all of a sudden a short stint of college shows was announced on their Facebook page before the band heads over to Europe to play some major festivals like Slam Dunk.
The show at Delaware Valley College could have very easily been their first show of 2014, I’m not certain on this but I don’t remember seeing any other dates listed prior to this one listed on their roster. Regardless there is always a level of chaos to be expected when a band flies in to play a few shows that around apart of a bigger tour, this however wasn’t the case with the show. The venue was a gym (literally on a basketball court) with a stage, doesn’t seem like a proper setting for a concert like this but it turned out to be quite great.
The lighting was superb in fact it was some of the best lighting we have seen in a while, the sound system was top notch and the stage height was a little low but made things a lot more intimate for those who could get up close. The openness of the gym allowed for this very unique wide stage set up to be created which allowed more fans to be on the barricade and gave the band a larger area to run around on during the set. There were some bleachers pulled out as well for people who wanted to sit and watch, which a fair amount of people did and Tyson Ritter called them out during the set asking if they “pre-partied too hard?” and had to sit now to recover.
The band took the stage right around 10PM, there was no delay with getting the party started for Delaware Valley as they kicked things off properly with long time fan favorite “Dirty Little Secret.” The crowd was a modest sized bunch of about 1,000 strong but what they lacked in size they made up for in pure heart and intensity. Every person wanted to be there, that meant that everybody was singing along to every song and wanted to enjoy the show as much as they possibly could. The show wasn’t advertised that well being that it was a college show, I would wager that the gym would have been packed to capacity had some proper advertising been done. Ritter fed off their energy of the fans who were there though and left everything he had on the stage, quite literally as he tossed and tumbled around while singing “Fallin’ Apart.”
On a technical level the performance was flawless, I can’t really say a bad thing about that part of their performance. Tyson Ritter is just a talented vocalists who pours all his passion into his singing, I can’t imagine why so many people accuse him of being a substance abuser because his vocals are very on key. There is a big difference between someone who likes to have fun being a little crazy on stage and someone who has a drug problem, Ritter even addressed this himself during the set. It was very impressive to hear him still hitting the notes like it was just yesterday when some of these songs were written and even more impressive to hear him hit the notes as he jumped around like he does.
The rest of the band was just as technically sound though they weren’t illuminated as flawlessly as Tyson was in the middle of the stage. The lighting guy had chosen early on to only use the front whites on the center of the stage, which meant Tyson Ritter and and Chris Gaylor on drums got the most visibility during the night. Mike Kennerty and Nick Wheeler made up for this by switching sides often and found themselves playing in the middle of the stage often enough. The only downfall of the night was out of the band’s hands, it was the distance of the crowd from the stage. Due to the temporary nature of the stage everything had very large bases holding it up which meant the barricade ended up being about 6 feet away from the stage. The crowd just looked so far away and you could see the fans faces in that front row yearning to be just another foot closer even at times.
Moving on, the setlist was what I like to call the “perfect mix,” by this I mean that everyone got to hear a little something they liked and no one felt left out in the end. The more mainstream fans got their fix from the radio hits “Dirty Little Secret” and “Move Along,” the older fans got treated to “Swing, Swing,” the more dedicated fans were surprised with “Mona Lisa” and “Paper Heart,” and lastly the new fans got to hear a few songs of Kids in The Street.
All in all the night was very well paced and even left time for the band to have a few talks with the crowd including one where Tyson Ritter addressed how much he swears and how all the pink shirts (venue security) were shocked by it during soundcheck earlier that day. The only real surprise of the setlist was the cover of the intro of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, that was a great choice for the Pennsylvania crowd. I wasn’t sure if the band would use this show to possibly try out a new song in front of some fans but it turned out that was only a hunch, maybe they will pull out something new during their festival run in Europe. The full setlist from the Delaware Valley Show was as follows :
Dirty Little Secret
One More Sad Song
Walk Over Me
Stab My Back
Always Sunny in Philadelphia Instrumental
It Ends Tonight
Move Along with Intro of Pixies Song
Kids in the Street
Gives You Hell
The crowd had a blast, the band had a blast, and the event staff a blast; sounds like a perfect mix for a show right? There were no issues with anyone getting out of hand which tends to happen at college shows, in fact this crowd seemed more like a normal crowd than anything because tickets were open to the public from day one. The All-American Rejects proved they still have what it takes to be a top tier band in this genre and hopefully they hit the road for a proper venue tour in the near future. Their last album was a great step in the right direction for them but came out a time where many other bands were releasing things so it kind of got lost in the massive shuffle of releases. With proper timing there is no doubt that their next effort could bump them up into larger size venues for a tour and probably even land them a handful more of number 1 songs on the radio.
The only thing left to do is wait and see, they’ve already proved that they’ve still got it. Now we just need to see if they can bring all that raw energy from these shows and the upcoming European tour into the studio for the next album. I have faith that by the end of 2014 we will be seeing The All-American Rejects surprise us all like they’ve done so well in the past.
Exclusive Gallery of the show from Matt Christine Photography :