Headlined by Mayday Parade, the 2015 AP Tour finished its six-week journey through the nation last Wednesday in Orlando. Boasting a bright red logo and extensive coverage on youth underground culture, Alternative Press – coined AltPress or AP – is the one-stop shop for all scenesters. AP covers everything from style to activism, but not without losing sight of its central objective: music reporting.
The brand started as a fanzine by current President Mike O’Shea in the 1980s and grew into one of the most popular music magazines in the world. Now – 30 years later – AP has expanded further than the traditional magazine format into an interactive website, high profile awards show, and popular tour. That tour, previously featuring acts such as Never Shout Never, Bring Me the Horizon, Four Year Strong and The Used, resurfaced this fall after a short hiatus.
A band with a fair share of AP coverage, As It Is, the tour’s opener, recorded their debut album in the Kissimmee/St. Cloud area last year. Released this past April, “Never Happy, Ever After” cemented As It Is’ deserved place in the scene. The British newcomers went on to complete an impressive first run in the U.S. on the Glamour Kills Tour and an equally impressive full summer on Warped Tour. To close their most successful year yet, As It Is stole an opening spot on the well-advertised AP Tour.
As It Is’ live set is led by Patty Walters – easily one of the most passionate and involved frontmen in the scene. Walters began by posting covers on YouTube and slowly amassed a following with his endearing charisma and raw talent. Just as much of a fan of the bands his fans also love, Walters knows how it feels to be on the concert floor, overwhelmed with admiration, watching music come to life. This empathy translates into his performance style. By actively seeking out those singing back lyrics or simply having a good time, Walters eventually gets everyone off their feet with his infectious energy. As It Is have improved drastically since their already strong Glamour Kills Tour set from just a few months prior, leaving fans excited for what the quintet will accomplish next.
This Wild Life followed As It Is, changing the mood in the room from jaunty to rhythmically mellow. The acoustic duo from Long Beach, California is signed to Epitaph Records and have toured with the likes of Pierce the Veil, Beartooth, Being as an Ocean, and New Found Glory. This Wild Life originated as a pop punk band, but when the lineup slimmed to just Anthony Del Grosso and Kevin Jordan, they, as their website puts it, “did the least “punk” thing possible… they got quiet.” Their unique “punk rock acoustic” style has paid off – Del Grosso and Jordan have created an act no one in the scene has attempted in the past, leaving room for copycats to try but fail to emulate in the future. Putting together a setlist of sincerely heartfelt tracks, This Wild Life and Del Grosso’s smooth voice conjured an immensely enjoyable and memorable performance.
As soon as This Wild Life finished their final chords, the crowd started pushing forward, with everyone aiming to steal the closest spot they could to the stage. Eventually, some fans were pulled out, some almost fainted, and some fell when most of the crowd slanted over. The excitement was for Real Friends. Despite being as pop punk as a band can get, the Illinois sad boys have toured with everyone from The Maine to Every Time I Die. Once Real Friends actually started, no one was in the same place for more than one song – everyone was constantly shifting, pushing, dodging crowdsurfers and avoiding moshpits. With a setlist of mostly older material, Real Friends continued their streak of strong performances, which put the music at the forefront and let the lyrics speak for themselves.
An ideal follow-up to the previous performances, Mayday Parade convert pop punk tendencies into hard hitting alternative rock, but not without throwing in acoustic sing-alongs and piano ballads. The Tallahassee-natives’ first album, “A Lesson In Romantics,” was everyone’s go-to bus ride jam in high school, securing their name as synonymous with scene and producing hits such as “Jamie All Over” and “Miserable At Best.” Ten years and five albums later and Mayday Parade aren’t showing signs of slowing down.
Mayday Parade’s set opened with the first track from their most recent release “Black Lines.” Easily the most powerful moment on the record, “One of them Will Destroy the Other” features Dan Lambton, frontman of Real Friends, who joined Mayday Parade on stage to contribute his guest vocals for the song’s performance. By starting on a high note, the set fed on momentum, crashing into “Keep in Mind, Transmogrification is a New Technology” and “When You See My Friends.” After getting a break for three acoustic songs, the crowd tumbled back into the high energy “Black Cat” before finishing up the main performance with frontman Derek Sanders on the piano for “Stay” and, of course, “Miserable At Best.”
The special encore included songs from Mayday Parade’s first EP “Tales Told By Dead Friends” and an appearance from We The Kings frontman Travis Clark, a good local friend of the band. While one of their most fun songs live, “Jersey” wasn’t the strongest finale track one would have hoped for, but it still rounded out the performance on a satisfying note. With flawless instrumentals, its obvious a decade together has sharpened Mayday Parade’s musicianship. Like As It Is’ dual vocal work between Walters and singer/guitarist Ben Biss, Mayday Parade adds a layer of interest by switching between three singers – Sanders as the primary, but also drummer Jake Bundrick and bassist Jeremy Lenzo.
Eliminating humor-filled on-stage banter, most of Sanders’ speaking outside of singing focused on emphasizing how important it was for each and every person in the crowd to be themselves no matter what.