by MIKE CHAIKEN
5 Seconds of Summer—the four man band from Australia—is not a household name like Taylor Swift, Beyonce, Lady Gaga, or even One Direction–you know, artists that even your grandmother knows because they are so “huge” and grace the cover of every celebrity mag.
But although the group has yet to crack the top 10 of the American pop or album charts yet, it’s clear people need to stand up and take notice.
Their fans—mostly teenage girls— definitely have taken notice.
On Sept. 5, the group– Luke Hemmings (lead vocals/guitar), Michael Clifford (guitar/vocals), Calum Hood (bass/vocals), and Ashton Irwin (drums/vocals)—performed for a packed house at the Xfinity Theater in Hartford. And we mean packed. Every reserved seat was taken. Space on the lawn was just as scarce.
Considering tickets for this show went on sale in the spring of 2014, that should say something about the drawing power of the group.
Besides drawing a huge crowd, 5SOS also has dedicated group of fans. Nearly everyone in the audience knew every word for every song the group performed. And I mean every song. They also paid attention to social media to find out what cover tracks the band performs and they learned the words to those songs as well. There were times when the audience drowned out the amplified band below with their own singing.
The Hartford performance helped explain the reasons why 5 Seconds of Summer is so popular and their fans are so dedicated.
Yes, the four members are good looking guys. But there are plenty of good looking guys in bands struggling to sell out your local bar. This is more than that.
First of all, the band has a way with the melody. Nearly every song comes with an earworm hook. “She’s So Perfect,” “Amnesia,” and their newest hit, “She’s Kinda Hot” are all unforgettable as they have you humming long after the song has faded out.
Secondly, although the band’s music is clearly rooted in the pop punk of Green Day (they performed the band’s “American Idiot”) and Blink 182, their harmonies are more like the Beatles, Bee Gees, and Beach Boys. Each member is a strong singer and that helps kick the music up another notch, giving the sound an atypical richness.
Thirdly, in this day and age where taped tracks rule, 5 Seconds of Summer are also good musicians. There was no evidence of electronic trickery as the band played their own guitars and drums. In fact, the band has two musical secret weapons. Drummer Ashton Irwin is a beast behind the kits. He drives the songs right through your ear drums. And guitarist Michael Clifford slipped in a few moments—playing slide guitar and offering up some metallic shredding— that indicated that there is a lot more going on in his head than what the band has offered on record thus far.
Finally, the band’s energy is infectious. It’s quite evident that the band is having fun with what they’re doing. With their next album, “Sounds Good Feels Good” out now, it will be interesting to see if they can build this dedicated fan base to the next level… and to see if they can stretch themselves as artists without alienating their young fans.
I give 5 Seconds of Summer at the Xfinity Theater in Hartford on Sept. 5 3 1/2 out of 4 stars.
Opening for 5 Seconds of Summer was Hey Violet. The group proved to be the perfect opening act for the headliners. Like 5SOS, Hey Violet is unique – for 2015—in that they play their own instruments. Also, the band—which is Miranda Miller, Nia Lovelis, Rena Lovelis, and Casey Moreta—has an infectious energy with catchy songs. One of their most memorable moments was their punk rock version of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space.” The audience loved Hey Violet’s whole set. The band has a new EP out and it will be interesting to see how they do on their first full-length. I give Hey Violet 3 out of 4 stars.
PHOTOS by MIKE CHAIKEN