Richmond embraces Rejects

Tyson Ritter, the singer of The All-American Rejects, pegged the theme of this past Saturday’s Canal Club show, which included four stellar pop-punk bands in Home Grown’s “Up in Smoke and Week” tour. Although the title “headliner” belonged to Home Grown, the night belonged to The All-American Rejects. Their popularity has been growing for the past month and if the audience’s reaction is any indication of their future in the music business then they certainly have a bright one.

The tone of the show was definitely a supportive one. Members from each band were wearing Wakefield, Riddlin’ Kids, and Home Grown shirts and giving enthusiastic shout outs to the other bands. Members from Wakefield and Riddlin’ Kids came out to play with and support each other on certain songs. And members of the different bands stood outside on a balcony above the stage to watch the other bands’ sets.

Wakefield opened the show and played a great set to a less than excited crowd. Their stage energy was great, with all three guitarists Ryan Escolopio (whose big brother is ex-Good Charlotte member Aaron), Mike Schoolden, and JD Tennyson, jumping and kicking the whole time they were playing. Drummer, Aaron Escolopio was doing his part headbanging behind his drum kit. “Sweet 16” and “Infamous,” which boasted the hook “we’re to dumb to be rich and famous,” were two of the best songs.

After Wakefield left the stage and one of the roadies brought out equipment saying “The All-American Rejects” the crowd became frenzied and began shoving to get to the front. It took quite a bit for them to come out due to technical difficulties, but once they did, lead singer and bassist, Tyson Ritter, kept saying that they would “f—-g” make it up to us; they did. “My Paper Heart” began the set and it sounded great. “Swing, Swing,” the popular single, and “The Last Song,” quite possibly the next single were crowd pleasers. The audience, especially fans of the band, were enthusiastically waving their arms and singing along to every lyric as Tyson sang. Nick Wheeler, the guitarist/ programmer/ keyboardist, had the most remarkable energy, pulling out a hair band move by holding up his guitar and wincing as he played each note while perched on the edge of the stage. Continuing their difficulties with equipment and programming were problems with Tyson’s microphone, but they refused to let these set backs stunt their performance.

With the Riddlin’ Kids taking the stage next there was definitely a change of tone to the show, which became slightly harder. The order in which they played the songs was planned well, peaking at the single, “I Feel Fine,” which was placed in the middle. Other songs that were played particularly well were “Here We Go Again” and “Nowhere to Run.” Prior to and after the show the entire band, particularly the lead singer Clint Baker, were more than willing to sign autographs and take pictures with fans even while they were eating.

Home Grown played hard through the entire set, which engaged the audience. They were humorous, doing homemade raps with lyrics like “put your hands in the air/ take off your underwear,” and performing immature antics. The bass and drums on most of their songs were so explosive that they shook the entire floor. Undoubtedly, the best song was “Surfer Girl.” The singing and music were extremely tight, and the audience jumped with appreciation. Drummer, Darren Reynolds, was brought to the front to play guitar or bass for what he called, “the sexy part of the show.” The cover of “Barbie Girl,” which was played after the crowd chanted for one more song, was another high point of the show.

Speaking to a shirtless Nick Wheeler, whose shirt was stolen by an adoring fan, after the show, it of The All-American Rejects was obvious that he was dedicated to his music and his fans. When speaking of the video for “Swing, Swing,” he said that there was no relationship between the couple or story line and Tyson’s experiences. “The video is supposed to tie in with the artwork because it’s all white- trashy [the artwork is of a rusted go-cart and trailer]. It’s supposed to symbolize two people being bored,” he said.

The All-American Rejects have been called “emo,” a term that has been thrown about flippantly in recent months. Nick had a strong opinion about this subject. “All music is ’emo.’ I absolutely hate that! I listen to Thin Lizzie, Iron Maiden, and Bon Jovi. I mean, have you heard ‘Beth’ by Kiss? [Our] lyrics are all about Tyson’s experiences.”

Being relatively well known, negative record reviews are something that Nick and his band will encounter. “I try not to [pay attention to bad record reviews] just because they’re usually ignorant. They get the records for free so they don’t try to justify owning the album. They’ll be like [gestures putting a CD into a stereo] (*blows raspberry and rolls eyes*).” It’s doubtful that The Canal Club will see as many great bands in future shows as they did this weekend.

Each band looks to have a great future ahead of them, a great amount more than number 25 on the Billboard charts that Nick was ecstatic about, and they will certainly be pleasing audiences, like ours, for years to come.

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