Cigarette smoke burned the nostrils as a swarm of snapbacks and Sk8-Hi Vans began to fill Austin’s Come and Take It Live for wave two of Four Year Strong’s ‘Rise or Die Trying’ tour. Massachusetts’ own were celebrating ten years of their breakout album Rise or Die Trying with a near-capacity venue ready to two-step and finger-point back to their younger days in 2007 when it was released.
Playful laughs and 2000’s era pop-punk dominated the soundscape. Hits like Good Charlotte’s “Girls & Boys” and Bowling for Soups “1985” had everyone singing along with no care in the world. In a flash, everyone in the venue was family, from the college-aged kid to your right with skin-tight jeans and a Hawaiian shirt to the balding middle-aged man to your left that bobbed his head to every song.
Life Lessons, an up-and-coming group from Oklahoma City, was welcomed to the stage with cheering as fans migrated to the front of the house. They began a set riddled with songs from their latest EP, Best When In Motion. Dedicated fans could be spotted up front singing along to every word. With a sound akin to pop-punk powerhouse The Story So Far, there’s no doubt Life Lessons will become a staple in the scene. A shout-out to the bands to play from the group garnered a hell of a response from a crowd wriggling with excitement. The night was just warming up to the inferno that was inevitable.
A roar of applause was followed by a swell of conversations as people flocked to bathrooms and bars for a quick breather. The two-story venue came fully decked with pool tables, a foosball table and the world’s most comfortable couches. A group of college-aged kids were overheard talking about how they first listened to Rise or Die Trying when they were in middle school. Just as soon as everyone seemed to catch their breath the next band took the stage.
From their performance with State Champs at the 2017 APMAs to their unquestionable rise to the forefront, Grayscale seems to be the next big thing for pop-punk. An embrace for pop and upbeat rhythms leaves a Good Charlotte taste in my mouth, but I’m not complaining. From the beginning of their set the group’s passion is obvious. Fans surge to the stage as if their life depends on it. The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania quintet is young but at home on the stage.
A flurry of lights and guitar riffs capture the venue as Like Pacific runs on stage. The group is one of the most personable bands out right now. Vocalist Jordan Black takes his ripped and bloodied heart and puts it on display for the crowd. The openly-gay singer shares stories of past relationships, noting that two songs were about “a piece of shit from Florida.” No matter age, race, gender or sexual-orientation, we all knew exactly where he was coming from. It wasn’t all sadness however, Black danced for the crowd and gave us all a reason to smile. High energy from start to end with enough stage presence to play arenas made this one set I’ll never forget.
Ontario’s own pop-punk Seaway has been a personal favorite for a very long time. With this, I’ve seen them play on at least three different occasions. This was hand’s down the most refined set from the group. The boyband-type quintet recently released Vacation, an album that is essentially One Direction with distortion (again, not complaining). A transition from popish punk to punkish pop has been brewing for two albums, and they’ve finally mastered the sound, look and movements.
Vocalist Ryan Locke walks up to the stage with white pants, white shoes, Seaway’s own Hawaiian shirt and a pair of sunglasses. The group is dynamite from the beginning, kicking things off with their anthem “Slam.” Fans (including myself) rush to the stage as quick as possible to yell “Everything is cool man” into the microphone dipped down by Locke. This light-hearted fun plays through the entire set, with most fans knowing every word to every song. As soon as the set is over members can be seen giving set-lists and broken drumsticks away.
Four Year Strong’s hyper-positive sound reached maturity with Rise or Die Trying. It was an album that dominated stereos everywhere. Four bearded men that could have easily been mistaken for lumberjacks took the stage with power. The house was filled with fans all bubbling with excitement. A mosh pit was conceived from the first riff in “What the Hell is a Gigawatt” and remained through the night. Young-blood fans and seasoned veterans alike united for the set. Strangers grabbed each other by the arm and shouted lyrics as loud as possible.
The most magical moment of the night came about during the quintessential FYS song “Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die.” For every FYS concert I’ve been to this has been a moment that transcends time and creates a connection that could never be honestly imitated. Four Year Strong pauses for a brief moment and the venue shakes with hundreds of voices shouting, “Team up! Team up!” into the air.
Four Year Strong recently released a ten-year edition of Rise or Die Trying along with a re-imagined album dubbed Some of You Will Like This, Some of You Won’t. Keep an eye for more news coming from Seaway and other bands that played as tours emerge in support of their new albums.
Written by: Sawyer Click