It has been 15 years since The All-American Rejects burst into headphones across the world with their release of ‘Swing, Swing’ and with one swoop became one of the pioneering bands of a genre of music that now affectionately is referred to as the “emo years.” Nonsensical labels aside The All-American Rejects had created a sound that was unique and raw which helped catapult them to the top of the charts in their early years as they quickly released hit after hit with ‘Move Along,’ ‘It Ends Tonight,’ ‘Dirty Little Secret, ‘Gives You Hell’ & countless more.
By the close of the decade the band was poised to be my generation’s arena act and when “Kids In The Street” released I was certain that we had our new Rolling Stones but I was wrong as the album didn’t resonate with everyone – not right away. Suddenly the best next thing went away for a few years, not completely but they didn’t tour as heavily as they were in the 2002-2010 time frame. During this time The All-American Rejects only came out to play on the weekends, select festivals or a random college show. It was defeating as fan and lover of quality music to see the singles from “Kids in The Street” not garner the radio play that some of the earlier material achieved as the content on that album was on par, if not stronger than much of their earlier work.
Lead singer, Tyson Ritter went on to release a solo song and told fans it was to tie them over until the next album came but that anticipated moment never arrived. The band continued to perform one offs over the next few years and hope for their triumphant return built in 2015 when they released “There’s a Place” but like before nothing followed in the months to come. Suddenly, 2016 rolled around and The All-American Rejects were on a massive tour again supporting Blink-182 AND playing a new song (that has yet to be released officially.)
Flash forward to this very moment and The All-American Rejects are truly the comeback kids as they have just released a two song EP / music video and are back on the road touring the United States with Dashboard Confessional all summer long. Is this 2002? No, this is 2017 and The All-American Rejects are back to claim the throne that was theirs though I’m not sure anyone ever took it as it was just collecting some dust since 2010. During what we will call the “down years” The All-American Rejects made two stops in the area prior to the show this past weekend and put on fantastic performances at both that really showcased the band’s raw sound that helped them skyrocket the charts.
Their new material has this same relentless power behind it with ‘Sweat’ possibly landing in the top 3 songs the band has ever produced. The pieces are all in place for a true revival as the new album is really coming later this year and hopefully the fans hold Tyson Ritter to that claim this time around.
The band hit the stage around 8:00PM this past Sunday at the Sands Event Center for their support slot on the summer tour and the crowd went absolutely nuts when they did. The stage was washed in colorful haze as they started their set with ‘Dirty Little Secret’ and the crowd screamed with true excitement. Tyson Ritter battled a wicked cold during the set as he would later admit this to the crowd but sickness didn’t impact the quality of his live vocals. He certainly got winded by the end of the set and needed the fans to take over but it was a truly rockstar moment for him to even attempt to perform the set as sick as he was.
The crowd loved him for it and cheered at the opportunity to take over lead vocals when he needed a few moments to rest. During the set a dramatic performance of the title track from “Kids in The Street” showed that the fans have grown on it, maybe all it needed was time but the venue came to life as Ritter swung the microphone around on stage and Nick Wheeler met him in the middle of the stage with his guitar. At one point in the set Ritter mentioned that they were going to time travel back to 2002 that night but the reality is that they don’t need to – 2017 is going to be huge for The All-American Rejects and it already has been as they are in the midst a true comeback.
The 2010-2016 stretch could have been a breaking point for this band but they proved all the critics and naysayers wrong as they did things on their own time. Will The All-American Rejects be the next Rolling Stones like I wanted? They don’t need to be, they already are something special to millions of people – They are The All-American Rejects and they don’t need to sell out football stadiums to be one of the most influential bands to exist in the past two decades. From 2002 until today their music has resonated with a generation of music listeners and will continue to do so for years to come.