The Early 2000s Come Alive at Packed All-American Rejects Show on Sunday


Photos by Alexa Chihos

Although I spent the majority of my week outside of my comfort zone, Sunday night was spent in a genre that is near and dear to my heart and came with bands that have meant the world to me for literal decades. It was a stellar way to end what was an amazing week.

The Get Up Kids took the stage ten minutes before advertised. It was the first time in a long time that I wanted to thank my anxiety and my getting to shows early because I had missed a single moment of their set, I would have been super bummed. Even though I had just seen vocalist Matt Pryor perform at The Turf Club in May as his project The New Amsterdams, it didn’t compare to seeing Matt perform as part of The Get Up Kids on Sunday. Hailing from Kansas City, The Get Up Kids, as they put it, are your favorite band’s favorite band. That’s truly the best way to put it. Since 1995, this band has been at the forefront of the emo scene with their distinct sound and style. Getting to see that on the enormous stage of The Armory was a dream come true.

I’ll admit, I was one of the few people in the audience singing along, and that low-key broke my heart. The Get Up Kids are a legendary group but one that doesn’t get as much attention or appreciation as they should. Them being on this giant tour is definitely helping shine the light on their talent but I fear that the excitement in the room mixed with the fact that they started a wee bit earlier than expected may not have done them justice. Honestly, had the night been organized by influence, they should have been the headliners but, I digress and was just thrilled to see them perform.

Pennsylvania-based The Starting Line was up next. Fronted by vocalist Kenny Vasoli, The Starting Line is one of your classic early 2000s pop-punk bands and, as soon as they started into their set, I couldn’t help but be transported back in time. The majority of their set focused on the tried and true favorites of this band. Starting with “Island” and ending with their hit song “The Best of Me”, The Starting Line had the audience getting nice and warmed up for what was to come. I’ll admit, I felt that their set had a bit of a rocky start and felt that Kenny’s vocals took a little bit to come into their true form but, once he got there, the band sounded great and it was as if no time had passed since those days where these guys where the kings of the scene.

Speaking of kings of scene, that doesn’t even begin to describe the next band- New Found Glory. I have seen New Found Glory nearly 30 times (not joking) with the most recent being just over a year ago when they came through and stopped at First Avenue. Although seeing them and reliving the songs of my youth will never get old, I feel like their schtick may be losing its luster with me. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing vocalist Jordan Pundik come out in an Elsa costume for their flawless cover of “Let It Go” from Disney’s Frozen and then quickly rip it off, come back on stage, and do the bit where he talks about how weird it is that he always seems to miss Elsa’s performance but I felt like it just didn’t make me giggle on Sunday night as it has in the past. Maybe it’s getting a bit too routine for me or maybe I was just in a mood, regardless, I felt like their set on Sunday, as flawless as it was, just didn’t spark the same amount of joy in me as it has in the past.

Unfortunately, the line-up for New Found Glory was a wee bit different on Sunday night. Guitarist Chad Gilbert was not there. Chad was diagnosed with cancer in August of last year but fought like hell and it went into remission but only for a little bit. Unfortunately, that cancer is back and he had to sit out on this tour. The band and all of the fans are praying for a speedy recovery but the stage just wasn’t the same without his almost hardcore-inspired influence on the stage and in the music. In his absence, there was not only a robotic Chad (which brought a huge smile to my face) that strummed along to the songs, there was also Kevin Skaff (of A Day To Remember and actually originally from Minnesota) to play the part. Although Chad’s shoes are impossible to fill, Kevin did a great job and felt like a cohesive part of the group.

The All-American Rejects, who closed out the epic Sunday night concert, were honestly never my favorite band. Their pop-punk and emo-drenched love songs just didn’t do it for me when I was an angsty teenager who was pissed off at the world. Now that I’m older and have calmed down even if ever so slightly, AAR’s music is hitting pretty perfectly these days so when they came out “swinging” by opening with their 2002 hit song “Swing Swing”, I felt myself fall head over heels in love with this band for what felt like the first time creating a super cool dynamic and a perfect way to end an already perfect night.

Although I felt like I was never a huge fan of this band, I felt like I was able to sing along to all of the seventeen songs they performed. It wasn’t until about halfway through their set that I realized how much I had underestimated the lasting power of this band on myself. By the third song, “One More Sad Song”, I realized that I had been singing along this whole time like my life depended on it. It’s crazy– the power of nostalgia. Here’s a band that I had listened to just every once in a while growing up yet here I was nearly two decades later recalling every single word. It was a throwback for sure and it made me feel emotional yet excited all at the same time.

This was a theme of the night. I watched four bands from my teenage years power through sets that both threw me back to that era but also made me realize just how far I’ve come and how, although cliche, I’ve “made it”. To say that it was a perfect Sunday night would be an understatement so cheers to the next night full of nostalgia. There’s nothing else quite like it.