Wednesday, July 22, 2015

5 Seconds of Summer concert review: Irvine, Calif.

photo by Drew A. Kelley
A version of my review originally appeared at 

When 5 Seconds of Summer sang "let's make tonight the best of our lives/here's to teenage memories" onstage at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre, the band was referring to a romantic date. 

But the lyrics to a soaring "Kiss Me Kiss Me" could have easily applied to the sold out concert on Monday night, where thousands of young girls (and women) screamed their hearts out at near deafening levels.

The Aussie pop/punk sensation, with three of the four members still teenagers themselves, just launched a large venue headlining tour (dubbed "Rock Out with Your Socks Out," no doubt a subtle nod to the Red Hot Chili Peppers) after two previous summers opening for One Direction.

Last year's self-titled debut album entered atop the Billboard chart, went gold and spawned three top 40 pop singles. The guys co-write and play on most of the songs, which sets them apart from so-called boy bands. 

Before the OC show began, music videos and ads flashed on the screens. Each time 5SOS appeared, massive shrieking followed. I spotted a girl wearing a pizza costume (in homage to a song title); another fan gave a rundown of exactly what the proceedings would entail to her newbie friends. 

Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger" served as intro music. It led into a sonic montage including Fountains of Wayne and Earth Wind & Fire while a fake stock exchange tally scrolled teen centric products across a lower scrim. Ashton Irwin's drum kit lifted into the air. He did an extended bit until the band kicked off the 90-minute gig in high energy fashion with "End up Here."

The set list featured a few minor tweaks from the one used last winter at The Forum (the basis for a subsequent live album). Lead singer/guitarist Luke Hemmings, bassist Calum Hood and lead guitarist Michael Clifford ably traded tandem vocal duties on most songs and were all over the stage. The latter looked no worse for wear following a recent pyro mishap at London's Wembley Arena that singed his hair and face.

photo by Drew A. Kelley
"Permanent Vacation," the first of two catchy new tracks slated for a studio effort due later this year, was an early highlight. The infectious harmonies in "Don't Stop" were equally strong.

There was plenty of fun between song banter from the guys.

A harder edged "Rejects" segued into Good Charlotte's "Girls & Boys," with that group's Joel and Benji Madden coaxed into guesting on the minor '02 hit. The brothers exited and 5SOS praised their occasional songwriting partners.

Unlike older-skewing concerts, where people are always leaving for drinks and food, most fans here stood for the duration, enthusiastically waved signs or flags and hung on every word. Dramatic acoustic guitar-based power ballads "Amnesia" and "Beside You" had their rapt attention. Clifford did see somebody exit for some grub and composed a silly song about hot dogs right on the spot.

Green Day is a major influence on 5SOS and the band did their usual fiery (this time uncensored) take on "American Idiot." New single "She's Kinda Hot" came across ok, but "She's So Perfect" was totally energized. Finally, 5SOS stomped through The Romantics' "What I Like About You," another set mainstay.

Hey Violet warmed up the crowd with an enthusiastic performance that recalled Paramore and the Muffs. This LA-based pop punk quartet featuring the Lovelis sisters put out a CD as Cherry Bomb on Hollywood Records in 2012. Now signed to 5SOS's Hi or Hey imprint, they did songs from a new EP. All got a rousing response, namely the keening "Smash Into You" and slower "Sparks Fly." The peppy cover of Billy Idol's "Dancing with Myself" was a good fit.

No comments: