AP Fall Ball Tour @ Newport Music Hall 9-26-09

Columbus, Ohio was a ghastly, foggy sight yesterday when the AP Fall Ball tour was drearily welcomed to Newport Music Hall, but that didn't seem to darken the spirits of those waiting in the rain all day to see City Lights, You Me at Six, The Secret Handshake, Mayday Parade, and The Academy Is....

Unfortunately, many of those line-waiters who stuck it out in the rain all day had several roadblocks keeping them from their ultimate goal of reaching the front row.

All shows put on by Promowest Productions venues in Columbus, which include The Basement, Newport, A&R Music Bar, and The LC, grant early admission to members of The Decibel Club. For a fee, members of this club receive such [unfair] advantages as: early admission to all shows at aforementioned venues, 4 free tickets to shows of their choosing, special pre-sale offers, and meet and greet opportunities. I would suggest fans who are going to be seeing one of their favorite bands at any of those Columbus venues to join that club so they will not get cheated out of their crowd spots.

According to Ashley George, a member of The Academy Is...'s pay-to-join fan club, "Santi's Little Helpers," fan club members and the well-dressed also had advantages over the average line-waiter at the Columbus stop of the AP Tour.

"If you're in the fan club... you got an Email, and that's how we got in early," George said of herself and of those who were already inside before the line or even the decibel club had entered. "Since it's 'the fall ball,' AP encouraged people to dress up, and whoever was the best-dressed couple got in early too," she added.

All of these permitted line-jumping techniques seem to be something that would severely dull the spirits of those who wasted their time in the rain all day only to finally enter the venue and find themselves several rows from the front, but everyone seemed to maintain composure and smiles as they waited for the show to begin.

They were there to be here to have fun, and the bands helped by making "fun" a prominent theme of the night.

City Lights, a local Columbus band replaced Set Your Goals as the show-opener. Though they sounded nothing like the band they replaced and are not as well-known as the other bands on tour, they still received an enthusiastic reaction from the crowd and seemed to fit in well with the lineup. It was striking and a true symbol of how very much of a fun-loving community shows like this attract to see that a man in the audience who was having the most passionate sing-alongs and moving around the most to City Lights was wearing a Set Your Goals shirt. Obviously, nothing was going to keep him or anyone else from enjoying this show. As the City Lights guitarists moved in synchronized motion, the crowd moved in waves with them, showing support for their hometown.

You Me at Six, the band that would have been the first opener for the show had Set Your Goals not dropped off knew exactly what they were doing when it came to keeping the crowd lively.

Lead singer Josh Franceschi spoke directly to some audience members while onstage, making their set more intimate and inclusive for everyone. They excited the crowd by playing a song that they knew would produce a reaction from most of the audience: their rendition of Lady Gaga's "Poker Face." The band maintained an energized, upbeat, and fun vibe through their set. However, the audience sometimes didn't react well to the hype-prompts of the band, which lead me to wonder if the crowds in the U.K., the band's home country, would have had a better reaction.

"U.K. crowds are awesome; U.S. crowds suck," You Me at Six lead singer Josh Franceschi told me with a mischievous grin, showing off his dry sense of humor. After a bit of joking banter about how he "[doesn't] like America," the playful singer added, "That's a joke. It's awesome. It was our first ever show here in Columbus."

The Secret Handshake, though it functioned as a three-piece for its live set, has only one official member, Luis Dubuc, who writes and records all the music. This may be why he came off as very demanding, starting his set by ordering around the sound guy to turn up his music.

Technical demands aside, The Secret Handshake were interesting to watch. Their sound, which comprised mostly of synthesized samples along with the singer's equally synthesized voice, mirrors the style of bands like Owl City that are growing in popularity due to the auto-tune craze that has swept wildly from recent hip-hop into pop-punk scene.

The silly and simple themes of THS's easy-to-dance-to songs set a very light-hearted mood and kept the crowd moving. After all, who would not want to dance to a song written about Uncle Jesse from Full House? A highlight of the set was when the band covered a Miley Cyrus song. When is it ever NOT interesting to see men with piercings and tattoos singing to Disney songs?

Though the band's songs were fun and amusing, many of them sounded the same. The samples played under the instruments, which Dubuc insisted the sound guy turn up, drowned out the drummer and bassist, making them seem like unnecessary accessories for the singer's performance.

The first to play of the two AP Tour headliners was Mayday Parade. Before the band even took the stage, the mood in the room grew tense with anticipation, and the crowd began surging back and forth as people, perhaps those screwed over by the early entry situation, struggled to get closer to the stage.

The temperature in the room seemed to rise a few-hundred degrees as the band when the band went immediately into one of their most widely known songs, "Jamie All Over." For the first time of the night, the whole audience seemed to be singing along and moving, almost overpowering the band.

With lit-up risers set on either side of the stage, the Mayday Parade guitarists were able to display their guitar-swinging synchronization with full, lit-up effects, making their ever-kinetic performance appear perhaps a bit more spectacular than it was or needed to be.

The band played a few songs from their upcoming release, "Anywhere but Here," which is to be made available on October 6th. At the AP Tour shows, however, the band is already selling the CD; so, if you are a big Mayday Parade fan and want your CD early, I would strongly suggest you go.

The audience seemed excited to hear the new songs and some kids were even singing along, but the songs that triggered the most excitement from audience members were those from Mayday's previous release "A Lesson in Romantics."

A great moment in Mayday Parade's set came when they stripped-down instrumentally to play their slow, heart-wrenching ballad "Miserable At Best." A technical problem caused the keyboard to cut out, leaving only singer Derek Sanders' and the audience's combined voices audible, causing an accidental and highly-emotional few moments.

Check out the [very] short video I captured:

The Academy Is... were the last band to play and were the most hyped by the other bands throughout the show; so, my friend and I were very surprised as we watched much of the audience leave after Mayday Parade to completely abandon what was set up to be the main attraction.

We brushed this off and assumed that, when the band took the stage, it would be just as chaotic as it had been when we had seen them in the past.

However, we found ourselves completely incorrect. When gauged the against their reaction to the opening bands, the crowd's reaction to The Academy Is... seemed very mild. My friend and I, along with other easy-to-point-out fans found ourselves standing out as we flailed and jumped and sang along with all our might to one of our favorite bands.

"What stood out to me the most was...how many people weren't there to see The Academy Is...," Emily Sammons, a fan who described their crowd as "lame and quiet" said, "They're the reason everyone should have been there."

Sam Weiser and Amanda Rozmer whom I met in line admitted to having seen The Academy Is... several times and both mentioned openers You Met At Six as well as TAI... when I asked them who they were there to see.

"I've seen them two times before," Weiser said, admitting that she did not have a preference as to what they played since she had seen them before.

"I like their new stuff from Fast Times at Barrington High," Rozmer said, "but I'd rather they play old songs like 'Slow down.'"

Was there a lack of crowd enthusiasm because many there had already seen them? It certainly wasn't because the band did not play certain songs, because they played an equal number of songs from each album, many of them crowd-pleasing hits.

Not all was dead, however. There were surges of energy from the crowd, which, though they were dull in comparison to the energy I have seen at other TAI shows, were still present. The band members themselves were full of energy and entertaining antics such as William Beckett's many well-rehearsed microphone stand tricks.

Whatever caused the calm, perhaps the main unenthusiastic problem being the new, younger demographic that bands like The Secret Handshake and Mayday Parade attracted, it was not the fault of The Academy Is... who were as interesting to watch as ever and who sounded great.

Perhaps the calmness of the crowd at the end was a result of a state of exhaustion brought on by dancing along with the four previous bands. With such a fun, danceable line-up, it would be hard for an audience member to stay at peak energy level through the entire show, which is unfortunate for the closing band.


Overall, every band brought something unique that could be enjoyed.

"It's a lot of fun," Casey Crawford, the touring drummer for The Secret Handshake, told me of the tour's general vibe so far, "everybody's super stoked about everything right now."

One can only hope that the bands on this tour maintain that attitude and put on shows that are just as fun and energetic for the next couple months of the AP tour. If not, they may end up like the audience members during The Academy Is...



Kelsey said…
Sunday night was a blast. I live for nights like those, and I really enjoyed being able to relive it through your review. However, if it’s cool with you, I’d like to respond to a few points.

First of all, in response to why so many fans left when The Academy Is… came on, I believe there are a few factors at play. Probably the most prominent reason for this would be that TAI has been almost totally absent from “the scene” since Warped Tour 08 and the subsequent release of Fast Times. This was due in part to Sisky Biz’s operation on his finger, Chislett’s marriage, and Bill Beckett taking time off to spend with his family. However, like you mentioned, while they’ve been away the scene has grown exponentially. These new fans were probably lured in by bands like Mayday Parade, All Time Low, and their own label mates The Cab and Hey Monday. These new fans of the genre have very little, if any, knowledge of TAI. Also, with the release of Fast Times they really did alienate a lot of their most dedicated fans. Many people really despised the album, viewing it as a superficial play at instant popularity, lacking the depth that they had come to expect from the band. Furthermore, the members are getting older, and it seems that in this particular music scene the older you get, the less likely you are to draw a crowd (though no one can deny the sex appeal of Bill Beckett. He makes my ovaries explode a million times over).

Still, I have to respectfully disagree with you about the enthusiasm of the crowd who did stay for their set. Down in the pit, the excitement was evident. Right at the start of their set an influx of people pushed to the front, eliminating any personal space that we had and cramming us all together so close that it was barely possible to move. Not only that, but every other second someone was lifted up into the air to crowd surf their way to the front, leading to two or three people riding the crowd at any given time. Also, in the middle of Classifieds, a rather large circle pit broke out near the front of the crowd, pushing those of us who didn’t want to participate even closer to the stage and each other. Coupled with all “flailing and jumping” we were doing, the energy was almost palpable.

Thank you so much for your perspective!

I totally agree with the aging thing. TAI... was one of the bands that helped kick-start the success of bands of their style who followed in their footsteps. Now, the scene has become something entirely different and their version of it seems almost dated to those who have not been into this type of music for a long time, ie: those attracted to the show by bands like Mayday Parade and All Time Low types.

I'm glad you gave me a better idea of what it was like in the pit. From where I was standing I could see the entire crowd, and there was VERY little movement compared to how very kinetic it was during Mayday's set.

Anonymous said…
So i was quoted in here, & i have to say that i didn't mention You Me at Six before TAI because i liked them better; i mentioned them first because they were openers. Silly, i know, but i have an OCD thing with chronological orders :P I have loved The Academy Is... for quite a long time ! Even followed Beckett in his acoustic project before TAI, i'd gladly watch them over & over & over, their energy compells me! I beleive that the scene that saturday night was a strange one, filled with lots of random "scene" kids that were there to rage to The Secret Handshake, whom (no offense) i've never much cared for. So although the energy in TAIs crowed wasn't all it could have been, they still had their loyal followers & sammie & i were most certainly in that, dancing our hearts off with the rest ! Ill always love their shows, that will never change! I was especially glad to hear so many older songs make it into the lineup, shows that they haven't forgotten that people listened to them for years before & its those songs that hooked our hearts :) You Me at Six has been an interest of mine for a while as well though, & i was just greatly excited to see them for the first time ever! As quoted above, they haven't played a show in columbus yet, & i was more than excited to see a band ive admired through my itunes for years up close & personal! All in all..a lovely way to spend my saturday night :)

Thank you for your input! :]

If you would like I can change the context of your quote. A blog is an ever-changing medium for writing. :]

I've been looking for setlists of the shows (As I'm seeing all this mayhem on the 14th in Cleveland) and from what I've been reading review-wise, people tend to leave after the first headliner. I'm not really sure why this is. I know I'm going to the Fall Ball for TAI and MP. I'd rather TAI go last, though. It'd be awesome to have them end the night.
Assisted Revenge--

As far as their set went, they played all the singles, and did about an equal amount of songs from each album along with one from the album they're selling on tour.

I can't remember the exact setlist.

OH! I do remember they didn't play "Checkmarks." That was a major bummer for me!


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