By Helen M. Ryan
“Everything seems easy when you’re 17,” All American Rejects lead singer Tyson Ritter told excited fans at The Roxy in Hollywood while recounting their last trip to Los Angeles. Eight years ago, four boys jumped into a van and drove 18 hours towards LA. Once in Los Angeles, the boys “tore that shit apart” – at the Roxy. The boys, now men, tore the very same Roxy apart again on the final stop of their 2009 tour supporting their latest album “When The World Comes Down”.
West Hollywood Comes Alive
Though the All American Rejects can certainly fill much larger venues than The Roxy, the small club’s intimate atmosphere had the band up close and personal with their fans. Performing under bluish Christmas lights on a stage just feet above a roaringly appreciative audience, AAR made the night their own. Lead vocalist Ritter, shirtless and body-glittered to the max, pumped up the crowd from the very first notes. Opening with their thumping, motivating hit, “Move Along”, the always-smiling Ritter exuded energy and confidence as he connected with the mostly college-age audience.
The boys from Stillwater, Oklahoma, shared music from all three of their albums. Not only were fans treated to hits such as “Dirty Little Secret” and “I Wanna”, but were also made privy to Ritter’s sharp sense of humor. While asking the audience if they’d heard their latest album, he shouted out to the adoring crowd, “You can buy it or you can steal it, as long as you f***** feel it”. “Feel it” is exactly what their fans did.
The young rockers held nothing back during their performance. Ritter sang with relentless energy while guitar riffs flew nonstop between guitarists Mike Kennerty and Nick Wheeler. There was never a break or lull in the show, demonstrating exactly how passionate the band is about performing. ..passion that is obviously shared by their fans. Ritter threw caution to the wind several times by flinging himself off the stage and into the crowd, surfing happily on a sea of adoring shoulders. Ending the show with their most recent hit “Gives You Hell”, the always-evolving group was young rock at its best…happy, grungy and quite simply fun.
No Rejection for the Rejects
By music industry standards, the boys from Oklahoma discovered success fairly quickly. Ritter and Wheeler founded the band while still in high school and released their first EP, “Same Girl, New Songs” in the summer of 2001. Rhythm guitarist Mike Kennerty and drummer Chris Gaylor added their talents to the group in 2002. The band’s self-titled debut album was released that same year where it sold over 1 million copies in the U.S.. 2005’s “Move Along” shot the band to stardom with the smash hits “Dirty Little Secret” and the title track “Move Along”, cementing the quartet’s spot on the music charts.
Keeping with the band’s tradition of moving fast and hard, 2008’s “When the World Comes Down” brought the band its most successful single to date, “Gives You Hell.” The song made it to the #1 spot on the Mainstream Top 40 and Adult Top 40 Track charts, and broke the band into the top five on Billboard’s Hot 100.
What’s next for the four-some? Despite whispers of infighting, there’s a potential new CD in 2010 and a Vans Warped Tour scheduled for this summer. The boys work hard and their rise to fame fast but not always easy. Says Ritter, “In the end, we’re just a band, close friends, who care deeply about what we do. When the bullshit eventually dies, love survives. I’m no rock star or hometown hero. I’m just a nobody. And like the song says, you’re nobody ’til somebody loves you.”
From the reaction of fans at The Roxy in Los Angeles, the group is definitely loved – and definitely somebody.
For more information on the All American Rejects, visit their web site www.AllAmericanRejects.com