The word “respect” only begins to properly express just how admirable touring musicians are — but the word “respect” seems to fall short when discussing bands who spend more time on the road than they do staying stationary.
This statement rings true for 5 Seconds Of Summer. You may have heard of them, Australian rockers who are best known for their connection to One Direction. Don’t let their world tour roots fool you — the guys in 5 Seconds Of Summer often joke about their big dreams, some day touring with the likes of their favorites; Blink 182, All Time Low, Green Day to name a few. After seeing their palpable energy on stage and the passion they have for their fans and making each and every show a unique one, we have no doubt in our mind that they will make those dreams a reality.
We first checked in with 5 Seconds Of Summer on their 2016 World Tour (which started back mid-February in Japan… fast forward nearly 100 shows later, they’re close to selling out the first of their five California dates) at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View. Fans line up by the hundreds, hours before the doors are set to open. Several fans even organized a project for the band, thousands of purple hearts with instructions are handed out to those in line, but we’ll elaborate on that later.
To kick off the festivities for the night, the venue’s PA system is booming with those pop punk/rock legends aforementioned: Green Day, Nirvana, Wheatus, Blink 182. Before long, Roy English takes the stage to open the night. If you haven’t heard of Roy before, maybe you heard of his previous act — Eye Alaska who formed in the early 2000s and were signed with Fearless Records up until 2011. Now on his own, Roy has the freedom to perform, produce and expand his instrumentalist creativity. His performance was a testament to just that. Roy was everything you could ask for in an opener — his energy filled the crowded amphitheater and even those who were unfamiliar with him prior to the show, we can assure you his engaging stories behind tracks left you with the catchy hooks in mind even after the night came and went. His closing track, titled “Wasted Youth” left the chorus “In this moment we’re together / You and I will live forgetter / We are invincible tonight / Wasting our youth is a crime” ringing in our ears as the lights dimmed. As the fans wait for the next act, the depth of these lines wash over our thoughts. It is almost impossible not to assume that this song set the bar high, embodying the perfect vibe for the masses in attendance tonight.
Only moments later, Roy’s instruments are safely pulled from the stage to set up for Hey Violet. This female-fronted band hails from Los Angeles, who formed nearly eight years ago first under the alias “Cherri Bomb.” This is the bands second time supporting 5 Seconds of Summer, they teamed up for their European and North American legs of their 2015 Rock Out With Your Socks Out Tour. Since then, the band has released two EPs and their catalogue for the evening is filled with only the best. Towards the end of their relatively short setlist, the band encourages the crowd to sing along to a song they’re confident we all know. Hey Violet shares their version of pop star Daya’s collab with The Chainsmokers, “Don’t Let Me Down.” This song was a chart-topper and we had our doubts but Hey Violet’s pop punk rendition blew the original right out of the water. Front woman Rena Lovelis hit the high notes in this track without any faltering, leaving the packed venue cheering at a noise level almost louder than what the speakers are providing. The only possible way to follow-up their impressive cover is with the song Hey Violet is most known for, titled “Fuckboi” which gets those in the crowd who were still seated up on their feet, singing and screaming along to the quirky, humorous and somewhat relatable lyrics to their hit song.
The band has a reputation for plenty of shenanigans and seeing them live doesn’t leave you disappointed. Between nearly every song, there is a playful banter buzzing between bandmates. The boys joke with one another, asking if they ‘feel good’ and repeating puns about ‘sounding good.’ The members address their screaming fans with what can only be chalked up as adoration. Guitarist/singer, Michael Clifford screams into the microphone as he speaks, seeming to understand the hyped up energy of their fans and feeding from it. The members tell the fans it is their duty to have the best night of the lives, to scream along, sing along, dance along and make this show the best yet.
5 Seconds of Summer seemed to master the staggered energy of songs. They perform their tracks, sneaking in fan favorites, taking careful thought at where to place their slower tracks. After two high energy songs off their latest release, the screens behind them display neon lights as though you’re speeding through traffic as Luke Hemmings, now sans guitar, dances around from one side of the stage to the other to engage as many fans as possible.they perform one of their earlier hits, a slow song titled “Amnesia.” Just when you think you have a second to catch your breath, the band performs another newer, high-tempo song titled “Castaway.” This song comes complete with an extended live version and a dueling guitar session between Clifford and Hemmings, proving they have what it takes to be considered a rock band. Everyone is at their peak when the lights go out. A single, blue spotlight illuminates the left side of the stage. Fans already know what’s about to happen. Innocent bystanders who do not know the history of the band are just waiting for the next note, but it doesn’t come. The crowd begins to chant: “Michael, Michael.” On stage, Michael Clifford can be seen standing alone behind his microphone. He is basking in the cheers, the fans chanting his name. You can see him smiling as he tugs out first one in-ear, then the second. The cheers never cease or get softer, if anything, they grow. The crowd begins to bang on the amphitheater’s plastic seats, almost mimicking the sound of a train coming towards you. Finally, the opening notes to “Jet Black Heart,” an emotional anthem are strummed, but only for Michael Clifford to choke on the words. He attempts to start the song a second time — the screens zoom in on his face to show the tears shed and through a few failed attempts and a shaky voice, Clifford manages to begin the song as his band joins him back on stage.
The show only stays grim for a second. You remember those purple hearts we talked about? The fans see their moment and take it between songs — illuminating the purple hearts and singing in such fashion that the band comments on it. Bassist, Calum Hood expresses his need to snap a picture to remember as he assures the fans it is as special of a moment for them as it is for those holding up the hearts. To prove it, the band tease with a line about a particular food they enjoy. These guys are notorious for a short song they perform live when the feelings right, titled “Pizza.” Drummer, Ashton Irwin leaves behind his kit as John Feldmann (singer/guitarist of Goldfinger, songwriter and producer) takes the stage complete in a suit. The band continues to tease how the crowd has to ‘earn it’ as fans bang on their chairs again and the guys on stage combust as they seem to turn into a screamo band with how they are screaming into the microphones and jumping around stage.
Only one song later, there is an announcement about how it is time for the inevitable. Michael Clifford tells the booing crowd, ‘I know, I know. If it were up to us…’ before explaining that this is just the way it has to be. They perform a cover of The Romantics’ “What I Like About You” before exiting the stage. We all know an encore is coming — the band hasn’t even played their two biggest tracks yet — but what Mountain View didn’t know was the treat in store. 5 Seconds of Summer return to the stage, this time seated on an instrument crate. The lights stay dimmed and the band inform the crowd about how this next song has never before been played live. With Mountain View being as close as it gets — they perform their song titled, “San Francisco,” a slow love ballad off of their 2015 album. The moment is a beautiful one, later released in an official live acoustic video by the band. The song showcases all four members’ vocal abilities and shows us a side of the band, far more raw and emotional than the boys hiding behind their instruments and making puns and inappropriate jokes.
Only two songs remain, drummer Ashton Irwin is alone on stage, egging on the screaming fans. He can be seen mouthing ‘I can’t hear you’ as he encourages the screams to get louder, both arms up in the air to elevate the noise level before being joined by his band to perform their most known hit singles, “She’s Kinda Hot” and “She Looks So Perfect” before the night comes to an end. Their instruments are ditched one last time as an EDM hit blares through the speakers, the band encouraging their fans to jump one last time as they kick off this three minute dance party, throwing out various towels, drumsticks and t-shirts into the crowd.
For anyone who has fond memories of seeing the greats, such as Green Day and Blink 182 in their earlier days, we imagine seeing 5 Seconds Of Summer to be a lot like that. Sure, these guys sold out Madison Square Garden in New York on this tour — so hinting that they’re in their ‘early days’ may sound a bit absurd, but we are confident that 5 Seconds Of Summer will continue to make themselves known within the music industry. Their 20+ song setlist did not come with a single dull moment. There is no denying their ability to put on a rock show and their sheer talent. These guys sounded just as good as their recorded selves, a feat sometimes taken for granted when autotune became popular.
If given the opportunity to catch these guys perform, take it. Don’t let us sit here and tell you that 5 Seconds Of Summer are so much more than the ‘boyband’ reputation they’re quickly breaking away from. Let them prove it. You won’t regret it.