Being in a band isn't always as fun as it seems. Making it big as an alternative band these days takes a lot of ambition and hard work. The Ocala, Fla.-based quintet A Day to Remember knows all about the dedication and focus it takes to get to the top. The group was founded in 2003 and has been touring ever since to support its four albums. The band's third album, "Homesick," made them kings of the alternative world and in November, the band released its follow-up album, "What Separates Me From You."
On Friday night the Gamechangers Tour made its way to the Rapids Theater in Niagara Falls. The energy level of the sold-out crowd (1,700-plus) was apparent as soon as the doors opened. The theater held all types of people, but the crowd was mostly teenagers in skinny jeans and band T-shirts.
Tour openers We Came as Romans and Pierce the Veil held their own, but couldn't exactly get the crowd going. It seemed as though the concertgoers knew they should conserve their energy for headliners A Day to Remember. Bring Me the Horizon, a death-core outfit hailing from Sheffield, England, got the crowd to let loose a little more and the intensity and anticipation grew.
When the lights finally dimmed, the stage, covered by a black curtain, was lit by a pulsating white light while an orchestral, bass thumping intro played. When the curtain finally dropped to reveal the band, the crowd went crazy. Along with the opening chords of "Sticks and Bricks" came a burst of rainbow-colored confetti and smoke, making the moment even more exciting. From the beginning of its set, A Day to Remember held the crowd in the palm of its hands. The band played an equal amount of songs from its second, third and fourth albums and a couple from its debut, including "Monument," a fan favorite.
The pace of the show never slowed, and there was always something dramatic going on, leaving the crowd amazed. There were rolls of toilet paper flying through the air, multiple shots of confetti and smoke and beach balls. The production and lighting of the show was higher quality than is normally seen at an alternative concert. The five musicians were spot on and were tight on stage, playing as one.
The concert hit a high during "Mr. Highway's Thinking About the End." The song encouraged a large circle pit to form and had everyone singing along as loud as they could. It was a crowd favorite and was followed by a popular track off the new album, "This Is the House That Doubt Built." During this song it became clear that every person in the room was there for the same reason -- to let go for a night and connect with a favorite band. When lead singer Jeremy McKinnon sang the hopeful lyrics "Let's believe that if we all stand together we're a force that can shake the whole world," it was like he was singing it to each person in the crowd.
During "Homesick," McKinnon climbed inside a giant human bubble resembling a hamster ball and walked over the top of the crowd, giving the folks in the back a front-row seat for a few minutes. Other crowd-pleasers were new tracks "You Be Tails, I'll Be Sonic" and "2nd Sucks" and hits off "Homesick" such as "I'm Made of Wax Larry, What Are You Made Of?" and "Have Faith in Me." The band ended dramatically with "The Plot to Bomb the Panhandle," releasing hundreds of balloons from the ceiling near the end of the song. People immediately started popping them creating a fireworks-like sound.
One moment no one will soon forget was the encore of the bittersweet, acoustic track "If It Means A Lot to You." Throughout the crowd, friends were putting their arms around each other and swaying to the beat. There were people crying and groups of teenage boys who had been moshing minutes earlier, hugging one another. The band closed the show with "The Downfall of Us All," an epic track about dedicating life to the "open road" and leaving doubters in the dust.
A Day to Remember successfully blended its pop with hard-core and created an exciting and emotional atmosphere. The self-assured optimism and ambition that McKinnon voices in the track "A Shot in the Dark" when he repeats the line "mark my words, we're taking over the world" is exactly what got A Day to Remember to where it is today. It seems as though they have nowhere to go but up.
Mary Hartrich is a junior at Kenmore West High School.