All Time Low celebrates the 10-year anniversary of ‘Nothing Personal’ in Chicago

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All Time Low celebrates the 10-year anniversary of "Nothing Personal" in Chicago, Ill.

Matthew Rago, Editor-in-Chief

When All Time Low released “Nothing Personal” in July of 2009, the album operated as a modernized interpretation of a withering punk rock genre. Experimenting with the principles of pop music, All Time Low successfully fused punk rock and pop without deviating too far away from the integrity of the former, subsequently recruiting fans of two distinct genres into one place. Ten years later and “Nothing Personal,” the band’s third full-length studio album, retains it’s legacy as the commercially successful, temporarily stopgap between punk rock’s heyday and its inevitable decline.

Greg Corner of Kill Hannah began the night with a deejay set that incorporated all the biggest rock hits of the MySpace era. Corner, who deejays every Sunday night on 101WKQX, initially received a poor reception from the crowd, laboring through relative fan apathy as he commenced his performance. In the interest of fairness, Corner

Greg Corner, bassist of Kill Hannah, opens for All Time Low with a DJ set. | Photo by: Matthew Rago

failed to engage the crowd, instead gluing his eyes to his monitor during the entire first half of his set. The crowd responded in kind, passively rebelling against a DJ set masquerading as an opening act on a night of live music.

However, Corner exhibited his veteran savvy, coaxing an indifferent crowd into a frenzy with a meticulously crafted playlist. Mayday Parade’s “Jamie All Over” elicited a rabid crowd response before Corner transitioned to chart-toppers such as The Killer’s “Mr. Brightside,” The All-American Rejects’ “Dirty Little Secret” and Fall Out Boy’s “Sugar, We’re Going Down.”

During the second half of his set, Corner adopted a more amicable and engaging demeanor, escaping from behind his computer during Blink 182’s “All the Small Things” to record the crowd as they chanted alongside Tom DeLonge’s piped-in vocals. Corner enlisted crowd participation to wish his mother a Merry Christmas before giving a shout-out to a security guard during Yellowcard’s “Ocean Avenue” for her unabashed enthusiasm.

Despite Corner organically winning over a disinclined audience, his inclusion on the card was peculiar. As a fan of live music, it is difficult for me to justify paying to watch music played through a computer, which is quite frankly the reason why I avoid EDM festivals. Sure, the lighting is a fun caveat, but my Spotify premium subscription provides me access to the same “performance” that Corner offered, with the added benefit of choosing my own songs. Nevertheless, for a deejay set, Corner effectively read the pulse of his audience and put on a respectable show.

All Time Low came out to an anxious crowd, beginning their set with “Weightless,” an energetic anthem of youthful optimism. The audience came unglued, chorusing each and every word alongside vocalist and rhythm guitarist Alex Gaskarth. With bassist Zack Merrick providing the primary backing vocals, lead guitarist Jack Barakat was free to roam the stage, interacting with fans before briefly fading into the background.

All Time Low at House of Blues in a Chicago | Photo by: Matthew Rago

Playing “Nothing Personal” in its entirety in celebration of the album’s 10-year anniversary, All Time Low benefited from the top-heavy nature of the album. The hits came fast and furious, with “Break Your Little Heart,” “Damned if I Do Ya (Damned if I Don’t)” and “Lost in Stereo” immediately following “Weightless.” In particular, “Lost In Stereo,” which narrates the tale of losing oneself in the gravitational pull of music, amplified the energy in the room, evoking a perceptible emotional connection between the band and their loyal following.

The middle of the album, which includes “Stella” and “Sick Little Games,” served as a de facto cool down period, which is more a testament to the energy and quality of the songs that preceded them that an indictment on the middle portion of the album. Gaskarth withdrew his acoustic guitar for “Sick Little Games,” though its impact was drowned out by the rest of the band, making it more of a prop than a musical instrument.

Bathed in a stark blue hue, Gaskarth introduced “Hello Brooklyn” and “Walls” by informing the crowd that each number made its live debut during the Nothing Personal 10-Year Anniversary Tour, ruing over how the band had overlooked both songs despite each being enjoyable to play. Quite frankly, I can understand how “Walls” may have slipped through the cracks, but “Hello Brooklyn’s” persistent omission from All Time Low’s setlists is somewhat baffling as the song’s sound and execution remains consistent with the format that has traditionally elevated pop punk songs of the past to the tops of charts. The rhythm, timing and flow of “Hello Brooklyn” is both unique and perfectly implemented before conceding to a singsong chorus that the audience can latch onto, making it an ideal candidate for live performances.

While numbers like “Too Much” and “Keep the Change, You Filthy Animal” seemed to suffer from diminishing crowd returns, “Therapy” operated as a suitable conclusion to the “Nothing Personal” portion of the performance. The closing number began as a soft, electric melody before the full band resurfaced following the first verse.

Night Three of All Time Low’s three-day visit to Chicago concluded with a five-song encore featuring a random assortment of the band’s top hits. Remaining consistent with the holiday spirit, the band broke out “Merry Christmas, Kiss My A**” for only the fourth time ever. In an effort to avoid redundancy, Gaskarth and Co. dusted off “Jasey Rae” for the first time in 2019, throwing a wrench into a setlist that had remained relatively uniform throughout the winter.

The band concluded with “Dear Maria, Count Me In,” with Gaskarth endearingly losing the key prior to the beginning of the closing number, instead allowing the crowd to bail him out while affording a stunning audio and

Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low. | Photo by: Matthew Rago

visual display between band and audience. Crowd surfers threw caution to the wind, floating across the sea of bodies with reckless abandon as Barakat climbed into the crowd to mingle with the devoted fans who braved the Chicago cold for hours just to ensure a premier viewing experience.

During the show, Barakat addressed the surreal crowd energy, stating that “only in Chicago can [All Time Low] have three shows and all three shows go off.” While the show lacked stage props, the strategic lighting scheme added gravity to a performance that was constructed on a foundation of energy and musical prowess.  Gaskarth, despite being tethered to his microphone stand as a byproduct of serving as the band’s rhythm guitarist, still managed to both manufacture a connection with his audience and offer unbridled passion and enthusiasm throughout the duration of the performance.

As expected, All Time Low rewarded their fans with a memorable performance, exhibiting the energy, humility and technical proficiency that has become synonymous with their brand. Perhaps the setlist was somewhat handicapped by the band’s commemoration of “Nothing Personal,” with notable exclusions including “Missing You,” “Stay Awake (Dreams Only Last For A Night)” and “Kids in the Dark,” though All Time Low’s arsenal is so deep that they can easily compensate for such omissions.  If you have yet to see All Time Low live and in person, you’re in for quite the ride.

Setlist:

Weightless

Break Your Little Heart

Damned If I Do Ya (Damned If I Don’t)

Lost In Stereo

Stella

Sick Little Games

Hello, Brooklyn

Walls

Too Much

Keep the Change, Ya Filthy Animal

A Party Song (The Walk of Shame)

Therapy

Dark Side of the Room

Merry Christmas, Kiss My A**

Something’s Gotta Give

Jasey Rae

Dear Maria, Count Me In

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