Last Sunday evening, I scribbled down the final notes for my Geography exam the next morning. I gathered by backpack and other materials, making sure my phone, iPod, wallet and car keys were all in their correct pockets. I grabbed a hoodie off the floor of my bedroom, let my mom know I was leaving and headed off toward Central Michigan University, where The All-American Rejects, Boys Like Girls and The Ready Set were scheduled to perform that evening.
This was a show I’d been highly anticipating for months. I’ve never had the opportunity to see The All-American Rejects before, but they’ve been a band that I’ve wanted to see for years. Ever since I first heard “Dirty Little Secret” pound through the headphones of my portable CD player in sixth grade, I was instantly hooked. Now, seven years after they put out their multi-platinum marvel Move Along, I finally got the chance to see the group’s eccentrically spirited live performance.
However, the group didn’t come alone on this tour. In tow, they brought fellow pop-heavy platinum artists Boys Like Girls and The Ready Set, balancing out the bill with an equal mix of pop-rock and dance floor-ready jams.
With the show starting right on time at 7 pm, I made it just in time for the beginning of The Ready Set. Seeing as I had only seen the group once before at last summer’s Warped Tour, I knew I was in for a treat with this performance. Frontman/group founder Jordan Witzigreuter may seem like a fun, carefree individual during interviews and signings, but the lead singer is all business from the second he steps on that stage until the moment he says “thank you and goodnight.” The band immediately jumped into their material, opening with the bass-thumping duo of “More Than Alive” and “Young Forever.” Witzigreuter remained extremely high-energy throughout the beginning of the set, running all over the stage and connecting with the mainly pre-teen audience in the front few rows.
There were some really cool touches to The Ready Set’s performance as well. From breaking out a sample of the recently popular “Gangnam Style” to bringing out some ghost-like figures to help perform the slowed-down re-imagining of his hit “Love Like Woe,” there was never a dull moment when the group was on the stage. All in all, The Ready Set provided an exceptionally riveting set. Admittedly, when I first saw them last year, I frankly wasn’t really taken by their performance. However, after this show, it was definitely a set worth recommending to anyone who enjoys the group’s discography.
Next, we have Boys Like Girls. Like The Ready Set, I’ve only had the opportunity to see Boys Like Girls once before, two years ago. It was on The Bamboozle Roadshow in Clarkston, Michigan, where the group played with an extremely eclectic lineup that included All Time Low, LMFAO and Third Eye Blind as co-headliners for the night. Out of the four solid headliners that evening, Boys Like Girls was the one that failed by comparison. However, I was definitely willing to give the group a second chance.
And boy, am I glad I did. The band’s hour-long set was completely full of hits, front-to-back, all the way through. Playing everything from albums like their destined-to-be-classic self-titled (“The Great Escape,” “Thunder,” “Hero/Heroine”) to their well-produced smash Love Drunk (“Love Drunk,” “Heart Heart Heartbreak,” “Two Is Better Than One”), the set was very well-rounded and acted as a great smorgasbord of treats for fans to sample on.
Though the band was rather stiff at the beginning of the set, they did, however, did some things that no other band that evening did: they brought fans up on stage. First, they brought a nerve-ridden fan to help sing Taylor Swift’s part on “Two Is Better Than One.” Later they brought a rather eager fan on stage to help hype the crowd up during the second half of their set. With little tricks like this, the band helped make their set accessible to both longtime fans and those just listening to the group for the first time. Because of this, Boys Like Girls’ set was a winner for all who watched it.
A half hour later, headliners The All-American Rejects took the stage. The reaction was huge from the second lead vocalist Tyson Ritter stepped on stage. The band’s setlist featured a little bit of everything from all four of their studio releases, from hits like “Swing, Swing” and “Gives You Hell” to newer tracks such as “Beekeeper’s Daughter” and “Gonzo.” For years I had heard that the band had taken a primary influence from ‘70s and ‘80s rock groups like AC/DC, Def Leppard and Duran Duran. Until this show, I had never fully understood how they produced their sound from influences such as these. However, after seeing their eccentrically brilliant embodiment of those acts, it’s clear to see how well they’ve adapted their performance to today’s standards.
The group did an excellent job of spreading out their best-known material between their newer works. Though the band’s more radio-friendly hits had a larger reaction, seeing that the audience was primarily college students, the entire set was well-received by all who watched it.
Overall, the show was a winner. Because all three bands have begun to fall out of the spotlight over the past couple of years, I was admittedly worried about how the audience would receive the show. However, it was easy to see that these acts have devoted fan bases that will support them regardless of how trends tend to shift and tastes tend to change. If you ask me, that’s a pretty cool thing to witness such loyalty.