December 9, 2015 All Time Low & Sleeping With Sirens Sell Out The Theater At Madison Square Garden NYC 11-24-15
Perhaps two of the biggest Alternative Pop Rock bands are Maryland’s All Time Low and Florida’s Sleeping with Sirens. Respectively headliners in their own right on any stage across the USA, the two announced a co-headlining tour back in Summer, cleverly dubbing it the Back To The Future Hearts Tour. Presented by Rockstar Energy, the announcement was made a few months after the release of their brand new albums, All Time Low’s Future Hearts in April and Sleeping with Sirens’ Madness in March, the tour began October 9th and concluded on November 24th in New York City. Just a few days prior to Thanksgiving, for a Tuesday night, New York City was as busy as ever, but that did not stop a pack of fans from flocking to the city’s most prestigious venue, Madison Square Garden. A tour which initially had a supporting act of One OK Rock through November 13th, the final eleven days of the trek saw the Back To The Future Hearts Tour turn into a two band bill. More than enough for any fan, the energy was even more elevated once the aforementioned New York City date because headlining a venue like Madison Square Garden is an epic accomplishment for any band. Performing within the Theater at Madison Square Garden, a capacity 5,500 patrons filled the seats in excitement for the evening of music ahead.
Up first was Orlando’s own Sleeping with Sirens. Being signed to Epitaph Records, the band has four albums behind them, including Madness which is charted right behind All Time Lows’ Future Hearts. Known for there highly energetic stage persona and the incredible vocal range of frontman Kellin Quinn, their lineup is completed by Gabe Barham on drums, Justin Hill on bass, Nick Martin on rhythm guitar, and Jack Fowler on lead guitar. No stranger to the New York City area, Sleeping with Sirens have headlined such venues as Playstation Theater (formerly Best Buy Theater) in 2013, and in 2014 made the trip out to Long Island to hit The Paramount with Pierce The Veil. Now ready to make history, the band approached the platform of the Theater at Madison Square Garden as the room began to clamor.
Starting the set off strong with the popular hit “Kick Me,” Quinn and fellow bandmates, including Fowler helping out on vocals, the track was a bullet of energy. Front and center on the stage was a pedestal where Quinn would jump up and shout the lyrics at the audience, who responded by eagerly shouting back. Behind the band was an immense lighting setup with marquee lights in the shape of SWS lining, adding a theatrical touch to the event. Not ones to slow things down, right off the bat, Sleeping with Sirens kept things going with “Do It Now Remember It Later,” and newer song “We Like It Loud.” Igniting the audience to go absolutely insane, voices overpowered the band as they blasted into more Madness cuts including “Better Off Dead,” “Gold,” and “The Strays.”
Taking a moment to soak in the experience, they smiled and stared into the audience as they broke it down for the more mellow acoustic rendition of “Scene Five: With Ears to See, and Eyes to Hear.” Giving Quinn’s emotion-struck vocals a chance to shine brightly with just the strumming of an acoustic guitar in the backdrop, the audience listened attentively. Following with a cover of Goo Goo Dolls mega-hit “Iris,” Quinn added his own texture to the song as the acoustic guitar playing remained in the background and the voices of those in audience resonated throughout the famous chorus. A touching moment in their performance, they fired up the amps once more for the heavy “Congratulations,” followed by the lyrically striking “Tally It Up, Settle the Score,” before closing with “If You Can’t Hang.” With the stage lights flickering and Barham letting loose on the drums, more singing along came from the sea of people who seemed to know every word to the track. It was a perfect way to say goodbye and show their fans will soon not forget. Sleeping With Sirens will take a much deserved break for the holidays, but not to worry, they will most likely be back after traveling to Europe in February for a month long tour.
Next up, naturally, was the second part of this two-headed monster tour, All Time Low. Forming in early 2003 while still in high school, All Time Low started off covering other massive Pop Punk bands at the time such as Blink-182. These covers and the band’s natural talent got them noticed early on by Emerald Moon Records, thus getting them signed, and shortly after, the band released their debut The Three Words to Remember in Dealing with the End EP in 2004. After rising to local popularity as a result of the release, All Time Low members Alex Gaskarth (lead vocals/guitar), Jack Barakat (lead guitar/backing vocals), Zack Merrick (bass/ backing vocals), and Rian Dawson (drums) were also getting ready to, in fact, graduate from high school. Interestingly, right before they graduated, the band received some of the biggest news of their career, they were signed to a record deal with Hopeless Records. Since that life-changing event, the band has released six studio albums and a live album, and, after two years of writing new material, released Future Hearts earlier this year. The album quickly grew to number 2 on the billboard Top 200 charts and became the band’s biggest selling and highest charting album to date. Tack on the accomplishments, their Back to The Future Hearts tour was ready to play at the one and only Madison Square Garden.
With a buzz flowing through the air of the theater, the stage went dark and suddenly a giant white sheet flew down from the ceiling like a rushing wave. The stage was now completely hiding the secrets behind this curtain and the lights were brought to a dim so eyes on the crowd could focus in on the shadows of Gaskarth, Barakat, Merrick, and Dawson as they began with the first song off of Future Hearts, “Satellite.” Playing while the sheet remained obstructing the stage, the lights moved with their silhouettes like projected artworks. Following with “Kicking and Screaming,” as soon as the track kicked in, the curtain dropped, unveiling the band to the massive audience before them. The crowd met them with high-pitched screams of excitement and shouting the lyrics word for word. Next up, they went back in the past a little for “Lost in Stereo” during which all band members rocketed back and forth on stage interacting with themselves, as well as the crowd.
With an excitement beginning, Alex took a break to speak with the audience and stated how the floor was actually shaking and bouncing due to the high volume of people dancing. Conveying what an incredible feeling that was, it was merely just the tip of the iceberg as the show went on and the band continued to conversate and keep the show personal, fun, and loose. Following a chuckle, they went into “A Love Like War” before “Dancing with a Wolf,” and then “Backseat Serenade.” With the lights going dark once again, a spotlight remained on Gaskarth as he began “Weightless” solo prior to the entire band joined in moments later. Keeping everyone on their feet and bodies moving, they took a moment to mellow it out with Gaskarth asking the audience to make some noise for Merrick before jumping into an acoustic version of “Cinderblock Garden.” A heartwarming moment in the set, the two played guitar and sang in unison, amplifying the lyrics. Met by more ruckus cheers, they opted to keep it acoustic based with “Remembering Sunday” and “Therapy.”
The audience already immersed deep within their music, Gaskarth took the time to speak one on one with five-thousand plus fans, and it was a speech no one will forget. Coming from the heart, he stated how he understands everyone has their struggles in life, whether it be an addition of any kind or personal inadequacies. Soft-spoken and sincere, he then stated that there is always hope to come out of struggles on top, stronger, and a better person. He then confessed that is why he loves being a part of All Time Low, and most of all their scene, because it is a communication more than just music. Having the ears and minds of each and every soul inside the four walls of the theater, the response was epic to Gaskarth’s words, and with that, the song he wrote for all the fans came next in the form of “Missing You.” Riding high, the set flowed on without a flaw as they played “Do You Want Me (Dead?),” “Don’t You Go,” and “Poppin’ Champagne.”
Keeping everyone’s attention, they closed out their set with “Damned If I Do Ya (Damned If I Don’t)” and “Old Scars/Future Hearts” while mixing in some more humor with Dr. Jean’s “Avocado (The Guacamole Song).” Displaying mass amounts of energy until the final notes, All Time Low departed from the stage only to be return for their much warranted encore that began “Kids in the Dark,” before “Something’s Gotta Give,” and their most well-known song, “Dear Maria, Count Me In.” Greeted with more amplified singing along, yellow confetti fell from the rafters as the band said thank you in this wonderful finale.
Playing an incredible twenty songs of new and old favorites, All Time Low shrunk The Theater at Madison Square Garden down to that of a quaint club in their approach. They were personal, funny, and full of life. Taking the time to share their thoughts with the crowd, they even made it a point to tell the New York City crowd to check out One OK Rock, even though they had left the tour more than a week prior. The Back to The Future Hearts Tour continues and will pick back up in February with support from Good Charlotte in Europe, but not before All Time Low visit Japan in January for the One Thousand Miles Tour. Regardless of the country one resides, All Time Low is a band not to be missed.Reporting & photography by Jesse Murch