One of the most exhilarating moments of attending a concert may in fact be the anticipation of the doors opening. This was most certainly the case for show-goers Friday Nov. 28- Starland Ballroom, in Sayreville NJ. In the blink of an eye an already enormous line extended itself throughout a half-mile of an overly capacitated parking lot, where teens anxiously had been gathering six hours prior to the show’s commencement.
The venue was featuring a recently signed band, The Friday Night Boys; Every Avenue; The Maine; Mayday Parade; and the headliner All Time Low. The indie-rock bands comprised of members as young as 18 were on the second to last show of two- month long “The Compromising of Integrity, Morality, and Principles in Exchange for Money Tour.” Coming from hometowns of VA, MI, AZ, FL, and MD, the bands had been driving cross country carrying with them the talent and inspiration teens internationally adore in tour buses (in The Maine’s case, a 15 passenger van adorned with signatures and phone numbers of girls who all claimed themselves to be the group’s biggest fans).
A night filled with youthful passion and excitement began at 7 pm when The Friday Night Boys took their very first steps on stage. The lights grew dark as the screaming intensified. Playing songs off their EP- “Chasing A Rock Star”, “That’s What She Said”, and “Celebrity Life”- this power-pop band set the enthusiasm for the rest of what would be an unforgettable rhapsodic night.
The jam-packed Starland Ballroom was inundated with teens screaming their hearts out awaiting Every Avenue’s performance. Just minutes after The Friday Night Boys left the stage, the lights yet again dimmed and Every Avenue’s hit song “Where Were You?” was being sung not only by lead vocalist, Dave Strauchman, but by the entire crowd. In between songs, “Think of You Later”, “Days of The Old”, “A Story to Tell Your Friends”, and “This One’s a Cheap Shot”, guitarist Josh Withenshaw and Strauchman chatted with the lively crowd further pursuing their fans zeal for the next performance who would be the young ambitious five member band from Phoenix, Arizona, The Maine.
The night had really only just begun but heavy hearts were already being palliated as the ever-so anticipated boys of The Maine set foot on stage. With his back to the crowd, the lights completely down, heartthrob John O’Callaghan held the microphone to his lips and sang with emotion felt by teens and adults alike. Fans practically throwing themselves at the stage, hoping to make any contact with the boys, recited the lyrics to “Girls Do What They Want” with such confidence and amplitude that it became difficult to hear John “Ohhh’s” voice. The group’s stage presence was without a doubt unparalleled by any other. With teens being carried atop the crowd, and the flooding of the stage in an exceedingly tight area, O’Callaghan made sure to tell the crowd to pick up anyone that had fallen on the ground- adding that “stuff like that makes me nervous.” Often taking breaks between songs “We All Roll Along”, “The Way We Talk”, “Count em’ One Two Three”, John Ohhh spoke directly to the adolescent soul, encouraging them to “get crazy in here!” Not wanting to disappoint the boys, the crowd was left with no choice but to get off their feet and enjoy a night that would forever be a part of them.
The night further intensified with Tallahassee’s Mayday Parade, a group with a unique sense of flair. Drummer Jake Bundrick’s essence was up-tempo and bright with every beat. As usual guitarists Brooks Betts and Alex Garcia’s performance was addicting with every chord. The five member band’s play list for the night included songs “Black Cat”, “Miserable At Best”, “Jamie All Over”, “Three Cheers For Five Years” and “When I Get Home You’re So Dead”, a motley flavor of boisterous indie Rock.
With Mayday’s final steps off stage, the crowd only grew more tonic- demanding All Time Low’s presence. The screaming was surely deafening but elevating nonetheless. Hearts were beating at rapid paces, hands ardently waved in the air, and a feeling of adolescent temerity encompassed the venue. From the ceiling fluttered confetti and from the stage shone the members of All Time Low, their slap-in-the-face lyrics and an emotionally charged aura. Guitarist Jack Barakat, bassist Zack Merrick, and lead vocalist Alex Gaskarth were intimate with the crowd, tossing to them water bottles, guitar picks, and lyrics that spoke directly to each and every teen enthralled in a vicariously thrilling night. Every word was recited by every fan as Gaskarth competed with the volume of the crowd during the band’s “Dear Maria, Count Me In.” Their performance was fearless, fervent, and of course exceptional. The show came to an end with Gaskarth’s words of wisdom: “Live like it’s a party and ROCK ON!”
Nights like this sometimes come once in a lifetime, but the memory lasts indefinitely. Emotions could be felt even as ecstatic fans left the venue. For some lucky teens the night wouldn’t truly be over until pictures, laughs, and conversations were exchanged with the amiable down to earth boys from The Maine who expectedly came out to greet their fans. The night was pervaded with a sense of youthful invincibility, freedom, and soul. A long awaited night that would forever remain close to teen hearts would eventually turn into an indelible memory.
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