Concert Review: Alternative Press Fall Ball at House of Blues, 11/14


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House of Blues' floor was shaking, but who would have thought a sold-out crowd of teens in skinny jeans and Glamour Kills T-shirts had so much force? Alternative Press did. Pop-rock favorites Mayday Parade and the Academy Is … headlined the AP tour, rounded out by Set Your Goals, the Secret Handshake and You Me at Six.

Things started shaking when the Secret Handshake took the stage after British pop-rockers You Me at Six. The Secret Handshake (i.e. Luis Dubuc) sound like '90s pop meets Metro Station. He’s one of those artists Alternative Press loves to feature: a skinny white guy who writes funny dance-pop songs about girls, summer and, in Dubuc’s case, '90s TV.

Dressed in ill-fitting blazers, California band Set Your Goals played a mix of pop-punk and awkward white-boy hip-hop. There isn’t much to say about Set Your Goals. They weren’t terrible, but they weren't very impressive either. All you could do was wait patiently for the next band.

Any excitement the opening acts built was overshadowed by the complete mayhem that ensued when Mayday Parade came onstage. Pretty impressive for a band whose members were selling their debut record out of book bags at the Warped Tour three years ago.

After playing older songs like “Jamie All Over” and “Three Cheers for Five Years,” the Florida group played a couple from its new album Anywhere But Here. “The Silence” featured the sort of bravado usually found in arena rock, which is fitting since guitarist Brooks Betts looks exactly like Jon Bon Jovi. The album’s title track is an addicting pop song that should be played with the car windows down on a summer day. Songs from the band’s last album, A Lesson in Romantics, really got the crowd moving, with the piano ballad “Miserable at Best” a pleasant change from the band’s usual uptempo in-your-face songs.

When William Beckett, singer for the Academy Is … , threw his mic stand into the crowd, it was clear the Chicago band was ready to show the other acts how it's done. Beckett commanded the stage, and it wasn’t just because he cut his hair and traded his plaid shirts for suspenders. He’s one of those frontmen you can’t help but watch, whether he’s swinging his mic or moving his hips like Elvis.

The band played songs from its last album, Fast Times at Barrington High, including the school’s-out anthem “Summer Hair = Forever Young” and “Rumored Nights,” a song Beckett said is about having an unhealthy obsession with someone. The Academy Is’s… second album, Santi, was pretty much ignored by fans, but that didn’t stop the band from playing “We’ve Got a Big Mess on Our Hands,” one of its best songs. Judging from the audience's reaction, it's a fan favorite too. —Brittany Moseley

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