Review by Justin Burkhardt
“I know you want us to play that one song, but we’re not gonna play it. Goodbye”, joked All American Rejects lead singer Tyson Ritter as he walked off the stage before the band returned for their encore. But Ritter was lying as the All-American Rejects not only played that song, “Gives You Hell”. the AAR’s most successful song to date, in the encore but they also all their other big hits as well when they performed at the Sands Steel Stage at PNC Plaza on Friday night. The All-American Rejects were the first ticketed headliner act of Musikfest 2014 as ZZ Top, who was set to open the fest on Friday cancelled due to health reasons and a free concert featuring Craig Thatcher was held instead. The All-American Rejects definitely proved to be up to task and were a solid choice to kick off Musikfest and they really knew exactly what the crowd wanted to hear.
This was the perfect time to catch the All-American Rejects in concert if you were looking to hear all the hits from their 12 year career. Ritter said the band is currently planning their follow up to their last record, 2012’s Kids in the Street and while they’re currently not touring, their schedule enables them to do select shows across the country. Tyson Ritter’s stage presence evoked a feeling of a poor man’s Mick Jagger, not a band thing, and he is a very entertaining front man. Ritter kept the crowd engaged all night by making jokes and telling a few stories including how they eventually came up with their first single, “Swing Swing”. The rest of the band matched Ritter’s energy all night long and they definitely left all they had on the stage. You won’t leave an All-American Rejects concert thinking the guys from Stillwater, Oklahoma didn’t perform with as much energy as they could have.
The All American Rejects played all their most popular hits from all four of their studio albums which included “Gives You Hell”, “Swing Swing”, “Move Along”, “Dirty Little Secret”, & “It Ends Tonight”. The All-American Rejects’ balanced the set with various songs that weren’t radio hits but longtime fans in attendance were sure to enjoy. “My Paper Heart,” from their debut self-titled album, was one of the standouts from their lesser-known songs. While most of the AAR’s songs are high-energy pop rock, I was also impressed by “Mona Lisa” from their album “When The World Comes Down”. Sporting an acoustic, stripped-down melody, it was surprisingly good for a band not known for such songs. When the All-American Rejects returned to start their encore, they lead with the song “Kids in the Street” from their most recent album of the same name. The band came back to stage with the lights out and played the synth-infused tune with glowing guitars and Tyson sporting a flashlight on his microphone.
Philadelphiarock band The Lawsuits opened the show. The Lawsuits are a 5 piece band whose sound blended rock, folk, & Americana fused with reggae and 60’s pop into one very unique sound. The highlight of their impressive performance was a lively and solid cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” that truly showed just how talented this band is and how big their sound can be. Since they are based out ofPhiladelphia, I hope they return to theLehighValleyagain sometime because these guys (and lady) were one of the better “lesser known” opening acts I’ve ever seen. If you get a chance to see them any where in the greater Philadelphia area, do so, because they may not just be a “local” act for too much longer.
The All-American Rejects were a more than solid choice to open up this year’s fest. TheAARhad something during this performance for both casual and hardcore fans. But if you’re more of a casual fan of them and their hits, I would definitely suggest seeing them in a setting like tonight when they aren’t just touring promoting a new C.D. With that being said, no matter when you see the AAR you will still get your money’s worth either way as far as a live performance because they are still a very entertaining and high energy band. Tyson Ritter may not be on Mick Jagger’s level as a front man (not many are), but he is full of charisma and truly knows what the crowd wants and expects from a rock & roll frontman.