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“All Time Love Affair: All Time Low’s ‘fore’eve’r tour in Manila

My love affair with All Time Low’s music began in 2013, when “A Daydream Away” became the soundtrack of my latest heartbreak. That bittersweet song helped me navigate the pain, each line hitting me like a punch in the gut as I shuffled around town with my headphones on, seeking solace in the band’s discography.

Since then, my life has changed in countless ways, but my love for All Time Low remains. Despite their numerous visits to the Philippines, I had never managed to see them live. That changed on a balmy evening at the Araneta Coliseum, where I finally attended the Manila leg of their Forever tour.

As the lights dimmed and the first chords of Tell Me I’m Alive echoed through the venue, goosebumps broke out all over my arms. Lead vocalist Alex Gaskarth’s enthusiastic shout of “We’re back! The energy here is f**king crazy!” set the tone for the night. The band also played seamlessly into Some Kind of Disaster and then Weightless, each song amplifying the crowd’s excitement.

When they launched into Lost in Stereo, one of my personal favorites, I couldn’t contain my excitement. I was rocking out so vigorously that I nearly dropped my phone. A special shout-out to Rian Dawson, whose drumming was as amazing in person as it was in all the videos I’ve watched over the years. Seeing him live was everything I had imagined and more — his energy was infectious.

Bringing the bass to Manila, Zack Merrick delivers a groovy performance

During a brief pause, Alex reflected on the band’s journey. “We started this band all the way back in 2003 in Rian’s parents’ basement. Now, we’re playing halfway around the world to all of you guys. Twenty years into a career… this is pretty wild, you guys. We wanted to start the show off by throwing it all the way back and playing a bunch of old songs. I hope that’s okay.”

The crowd’s response was deafening; it was more than okay. It was a dream come true. The setlist felt like a live greatest-hits album, with Alex joking about playing 85 songs. While they didn’t quite hit that number, they did play an impressive 31 songs. Although some tracks like Dirty Laundry were abridged, the Manila set ended up being their longest ever, much to the delight of the audience. I had hoped they would play A Daydream Away, though I suspected it might not make the cut since it’s not a typical crowd favorite. Over the years, I’ve often felt like I was the only one who remembered that song. But the night had so many other highlights that it was hard to dwell on its absence.

Manila goes wild as All Time Low’s Alex Gaskarth takes the stage at Araneta Coliseum.

The band treated us to classics like Six Feet Under The Stars, Weightless, Shameless, Jasey Rae and Vegas, interspersed with surprise tracks like Remembering Sunday and Time Bomb. The ever-changing set lists of the Forever tour, dependent on the band’s whims, made each show unique. The familiar intro of Remembering Sunday sent a wave of excitement through the crowd, with everyone passionately singing along to the iconic bridge. As of now, Manila is the only city on this tour to have witnessed the band play this song live, making the moment even more special.

Despite the lack of elaborate stage setups or pyrotechnics, the band had the audience in the palm of its hand without relying on such things. Songs like Monsters, Backseat Serenade and Damned If I Do Ya (Damned If I Don’t) sounded even better live than they did through my headphones. But the most beautiful moment of the night was during a stripped-down version of “Glitter & Crimson.” Alex invited the audience to light up the venue with their cell phones, transforming the arena into a sea of twinkling stars. Trying to capture the scene with my shaking hands and goosebumps, I felt a profound sense of unity with everyone in attendance.

Later, the band gave a shout-out to Avril Lavigne, their collaborator on the 2023 single Fake As Hell. While they didn’t play A Daydream Away, they made up for it with a particularly moving rendition of Missing You. I got so caught up in the performance that I forgot myself and screamed the line, “F*** the world, ‘cause it’s my life, I’m gonna take it back,” along with Alex. Luckily, I wasn’t alone in my enthusiasm.

Rian Dawson drives Manila Fans into a frenzy with his drum skills.

However, as loud as I was during Missing You, I fell silent when they played Therapy. This song had been a lifeline for me during a challenging time in my life. Hearing it live, surrounded by fellow fans who understood its significance, was incredibly moving.

Alex’s declaration that he was “having such a good f***ing time” mirrored my feelings exactly. The band’s collaboration with PULP Live World, who have brought them to Manila multiple times since their Young Renegades tour in 2017, was also acknowledged with gratitude. Alex’s promise, “I don’t ever want to stop playing in Manila,” was met with resounding cheers.

You better mean it, Alex, because we Filo Hustlers will hold you to that promise! — Julian Mauricio

*****
Credit belongs to : www.philstar.com

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