A surprisingly small line snaked its way from the Roundhouse’s doors tonight, but perhaps that’s to be expected. Kids these days don’t know about I Killed the Prom Queen‘s legacy or any of their old stuff, but the venue had swelled to about 75% capacity by the time they hit the stage. Opening with the predictable one-two punch of “Beginning of the End” and “To the Wolves” from new album Beloved, they seemed to have Soundwaved a little bit too hard, because they were flat as a tack. Even the surprisingly early rendition of their two best songs, “Sharks In Your Mouth” and “Memento Vivere” in succession failed to get a rise out of the older attendees. Having said that, though, they were getting a massive response from the younger audience at the front. Pits, sing alongs, crowd surfers and metal horns abounded, so maybe I just saw them too many times in their prime to appreciate their new incarnation.
After Prom Queen wrapped up, The Ghost Inside hit the stage with a freaking vengeance. The happiest band in the world lifted the energy in the room ten-fold, getting a huge response from the masses with opener “Engine 45” before kicking right into fan-favourites “Unspoken”, “Chrono” and “Between the Lines”. It was sheer anarchy, with the band and crowd seemingly taking part in an unspoken challenge to outdo the other in enthusiasm.
Jonathon Vigil and co. have a long history with Australia. Vigil informed the crowd that when Prom Queen brought them out on their first tour many years ago, they genuinely considered relocating to Australia permanently. His speech about why he’s so happy all the time (“I believe that if you meet every obstacle with a smile and a positive attitude, you can overcome anything”) was met with rapturous applause. Many of those in attendance remembered the tragic death of his father during their last Australian tour and the effort that Vigil made to stick out said tour. The man is, simply put, a legend.
Their set was both energetic and uplifting, and I was sad to see it end after only 45 minutes. They absolutely killed it, but then it was time for tonight’s headliners, A Day to Remember to do what they do best. Opening with “All I Want”, they were a bundle of energy from the word go. Neil Westfall, Josh Woodard and Kevin Skaff were tight and bounding all over the place like the seasoned professionals they are, Alex Shelnutt had his stick tricks down to a fine art while he smashed the skins, and Jeremy McKinnon ran the crowd effortlessly with a massive smile on his face.
On a side note, Jeremy’s clean vocals have improved out of sight in the last few months. His screams, conversely, have become a travesty. It sounded like someone was squeezing an asthmatic cat, and while his voice improved ever-so-slightly over the course of their 90-minute set, he never reached an acceptable standard. He continually sounded out of breath, often resorting to spoken-word. Disappointing, but still, he’s been doing this every night for over eleven years. It’s amazing he’s lasted this long.
The audience, meanwhile, were exploding. Circle pits and deafening sing alongs were the standard, the band often inaudible over the audience’s enthusiastic participation. Jeremy would also engage members of the audience, in particular one man whom they had run into earlier that day at Bondi Beach (“We went surfing today for the first time ever, and this guy drives past pumping Common Courtesy, leans out the window and yells ‘Oi, are you guys in A Day to Remember? You boys just made my day!’ We’ve never been recognised in another country before, let alone heard someone playing our stuff while recognising us! You’re a legend, man!”) and another man who yelled out that this was his seventh time seeing A Day to Remember (on a side note, I’ve now seen them eight times. So nerrrrrrr!). The genuine friendliness and appreciation was reciprocated by both sides, with the crowd applauding and ADTR playing an acoustic rendition of “You Had Me at Hello” as a present for us, as they had never played that song in Australia before.
Jeremy did his zorb ball crowd surf, roadies threw free t-shirts and toilet paper at the audience and the whole thing was pure, unadulterated clinical chaos. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and wrapping up with what I believe to be their two best songs, “Have Faith In Me” and “The Plot to Bomb the Panhandle”, they returned for the obligatory encore with “Violence (Enough is Enough)”, “All Signs Point to Lauderdale” and, of course, “The Downfall of Us All”. They blew away everyone in attendance and reminded us all why Australia has a mutual love affair with the ADTR boys. They’re still not the tightest band in the world, but they’re more fun than lying down while a litter of puppies crawls over you, and that’s really all that matters.
Riding a wave of momentum that’s showing absolutely no signs of slowing down, all that’s left is to see just how big they can get – and I think I know where they’ll end up. At Soundwave 2010, they were billed 30th on a lineup of 50 bands. Four years later, they’re billed fourth behind Green Day, Avenged Sevenfold and Alice In Chains on a bill of 95 bands. I’m calling it right here, right now: A Day to Remember will headline Soundwave in two years.
All I Want
I’m Made of Wax, Larry, What Are You Made Of?
Right Back at It Again
The Document Speaks for Itself
City of Ocala
You Had Me at Hello
If It Means a Lot to You
Mr. Highway’s Thinking About the End
Life Lessons Learned the Hard Way
Sometimes You’re the Hammer, Sometimes You’re the Nail
Have Faith in Me
The Plot to Bomb the Panhandle
Violence (Enough Is Enough)
All Signs Point to Lauderdale
The Downfall of Us All