In Review: Underrated, Rejuvanated Pop-Rock at 5 Seconds of Summer
A mere 40-minute drive from Lollapalooza festival grounds, Australian band 5 Seconds of Summer (or 5SOS) prepare to bring their Sounds Live Feels Live tour to town. The four-piece gather an unbelievably lively audience that fills Tinley Park’s Hollywood Casino Amphitheater entirely and half of the general admission lawn, an impressive haul for such a busy concert weekend in Chicago.
Once opening acts Hey Violet and One Ok Rock have warmed up the venue, the mood shifts. 5SOS begin their set in ambient darkness, smoke, and a few halos of light casting a peaceful glow onstage. Guitarist and vocalist Michael Clifford is seated at the piano and the others at their designated instruments as they begin to play “Carry On”, the sweetly uplifting end note to their touring album, Sounds Good Feels Good. The lyrics foreshadow the night with “let the good times roll.”
The set list consists of a fair combination of songs from their self-titled debut album and their most recent one. Songs performed on previous tours such as “Voodoo Doll” and “Long Way Home” mingle with their newer, more polished, anthemic pop-rock sound in songs such as “Waste The Night,” “Jet Black Heart,” and “Outer Space”. But it isn’t a 5SOS concert until they have the crowd intensely hyped to their popular, guilty pleasures “She’s Kinda Hot” and “She Looks So Perfect“.
5SOS’ energy is potent and infectious throughout the night. Interludes and bridges that offer instrumental creativity and improvisations are aplenty and rather masterful. Their ability to intimately captivate an audience of such size while playing the way that they do is intriguing to watch. “The bigger shows are more interactive,” drummer Ashton Irwin admits during soundcheck before the show. “You have to try your hardest to make the people in the back feel the same as the people in the front row.”
And it was the Chicagoland fans that give 5SOS everything they can give, earning themselves a truly memorable addition to their tour date. Towards the end of the set, after playful banter between the boys about the desire to do something special for this particular crowd, they dive into the fan-adored “If You Don’t Know”. This rarely performed anthem is a powerful and invigorating track that was featured exclusively on a version of their Don’t Stop EP. The crowd did not feel more alive and engaged than during that part of the set.
For years, 5SOS and their passion for the music they create have been undermined by comparisons to popular music standards and the strict, bold lines that serve as boundaries between musical genre and its concepts. After fighting relentlessly for recognition and legitimacy, 5 Seconds of Summer identify as 5 Seconds of Summer and nothing else. There’s an exhausting effort that comes with the to strive to prove themselves into fitting the mold of a specific genre, and that is not something this band is here to waste their time doing.
Instead, they pour all their energy into delivering in what they do best, which is wailing guitar solos and wildly proficient instrumental interludes amongst their catchy pop-rock hits.
There is no meticulous algorithm required in order to go to a 5SOS concert and decide whether or not you want to sacrifice to your friends whatever cool card you think you may posses when telling them what an incredible show this band puts on. The music and electric environment is going to speak for itself, and it’s your choice to listen.