jakub | September 30, 2023

It’s A Pop-Punk Revival As Boys Like Girls & State Champs Drop Into The House Of Blues In Orlando, Florida On September 24, 2023


 

With the first day of fall already in the books, I arrived at the House of Blues in Orlando, Florida with a much more appreciative outlook since the near 100-degree temps had been graciously replaced by the mid 80’s. As I made my way toward the box office, it was clear that I wasn’t the only one happy to be here, as throngs of people paraded to and fro. Having arrived early, I was allotted some extra time to check out the picturesque surroundings that comprise Disney Springs

 

 

As I readied myself in the pit, I couldn’t help but reflect on what the evening had in store. Pop-punk icons Boys Like Girls were in the early stages of the U.S. leg of their Speaking Our Language Tour and they had brought several friends to commemorate the occasion. First up was LØLØ, a singer-songwriter hailing from the Great White North. Shortly before 7:00pm, she appeared clad in a “I Love Boys Like Girls” half-shirt and a red plaid mini-skirt. LØLØ took the stage with a ton of infectious energy. She began the set with her 2022 single “junkie,” and followed it up with “death wish.” LØLØ threw pom-poms to the crowd and at one point had them light up the venue with their torches. She also debuted “faceplant,” which is slated to drop on Oct. 6th, and played “hot girls in love” which was performed flawlessly.  With an amazing voice and a charismatic personality, LØLØ successfully warmed up those who had come out early.

 

LØLØ:

LØLØ: Vocals

Ben Healey: Guitar

 

 

Setlist:

1.junkie

2.death wish

3.THE FLOOR IS LAVA!

4.debbie downer

5.u turn me on (but u give me depression)

6.faceplant

7.omg

8.hot girls in hell

9.boohoo

 

Batting 3rd on tonight’s lineup is a band that I’ve covered several times. Hot out of Worcester Massachusetts, Four Year Strong is a hard-rocking band that gives 110% every single time. They appeared right around 7:30pm and the first song of the performance was “It Must Really Suck To Be Four Year Strong Right Now” from the band’s 3rd album, Enemy of the World. I’d seen vocalist/guitarist Dan O’Connor earlier this year when he sat in on Newfound Glory’s acoustical tour, and while that was an awesome and subdued performance, tonight he was back in usual form. This set was fiery and included “Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die,” “Brain Pain,” and “Talking Myself in Circles.” This set also saw the 1st emergence of the night’s crowd surfers, a sight that would continue throughout the evening. The guys had a healthy 30-minute set and finished it off with 2010’s “Wasting Time (Eternal Summer).” Be sure to follow Four Year Strong online (links at bottom) and catch a live show if you can.

 

Four Year Strong :

Alan Day: Lead Vocals, Guitar, Keyboard

Dan O’Connor: Lead Vocals, Guitar, Keyboard

Jake Massucco: Drums, Percussion

Joe Weiss: Bass, Backing Vocals

 

 

Setlist:

1.It Must Really Suck To Be Four Year Strong Right Now

2.Get out of my Head

3.Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die

4.We All Float Down Here

5.Brain Pain

6.Learn to Love the Lie

7.Talking Myself in Circles

8.Go Down in History

9.Wasting Time (Eternal Summer)

 

8:20pm brought New York rockers State Champs roaring to the stage. Fresh off the release of last year’s album Kings of the New Age, the band chose “Outta My Head” to kick things off.  The crowd was already amped up and this sent them over the edge. A tornadic circle appeared in the center of the pit and spun nonstop with a tenacious ferocity. Singer Derek DiScanio somehow managed to keep his backward cap on despite running back and forth across the stage. He was also rocking a Mickey Mouse tank top. Bassist Ryan Scott Graham was also all over the place, his enthusiasm spilling over into the crowd. The band belted out hit after hit including “Act Like That,” “Elevated,” and “Secrets.” The guys took time to show their appreciation to a fan that was attending their 100th State Champs concert. The 11-song set concluded with “Everybody But You” and included an appearance by Boys Like Girls vocalist/guitarist Martin Johnson. This was a fun set and State Champs is definitely a band that thrives on live performances.

 

State Champs:

Derek DiScanio: Lead Vocals

Tyler Szalkowski: Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals

Ryan Scott Graham: Bass, Backing Vocals

Evan Ambrosio: Drums, Percussion

 

 

Setlist:

1.Outta My Head

2.Dead and Gone

3.Mine Is Gold

4.Criminal

5.Act Like That

6.All You Are Is History

7.Slow Burn

8.Fake It

9.Elevated

10.Secrets

11.Everybody But You

 

Crowd Shots:

 

 

As I waited for 9:30pm to arrive, the sold-out crowd was really making itself known by singing loudly to the house music. Another product of the great state of Massachusetts, Boys Like Girls has been thrilling audiences since 2005. The band has enjoyed enormous success and has a highly anticipated album, Sunday at Foxwoods, due to drop on Oct. 20th. BLG charged out and opened it up with 2009’s “Love Drunk.” The sound went out for a few seconds but not to worry, the crowd stepped up and delivered the lyrics loudly. Singer Martin Johnson assumed control over the fans early on and never relinquished it. Drummer John Keefe sat high atop his riser which also served as a multi-screen monitor.

 

 

“Five Minutes to Midnight,” one of my favorites, kept the tempo flowing while the band tipped their hats to the Central Florida crowd by swapping Ohio for Orlando during “She’s Got A Boyfriend Now.” Guitarist Jamel Hawke and bassist Gregory James were clearly having a blast as they played directly to the fans. James got the spotlight for the intro of “Language,” another song from the new album.  Halfway through the song, the guys threw in a sampling of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” just for good measure. An acoustical rendition of 2006’s “Thunder” received such an ovation that the guys paused for a minute or two just to take it all in.

 

There were a few more hiccups with the sound cutting off but it really didn’t have an effect on the performance. Several other new songs from the Sunday at Foxwoods album were played including “Miracle,” “CRY,” and “The Outside.” Johnson told the fans that he doesn’t usually talk serious or politics at shows, but he was thinking that tonight he would say a couple things. He quickly shook his head and said “no, fuck that,” and went right into another 2006 classic, “Hero/Heroine.” For the last song of the regular set, Johnson told all the fans to get out their cellphones and record so they could get it out of the way. The band began playing their mega-hit “The Great Escape” but Johnson abruptly paused about 1/4 of the way through and asked everyone if they got the video. After a resounding applause he asked them to put away the phones and go crazy because “this is for just us.” What followed was an awe-inspiring performance of “The Great Escape,” the entire version that also incorporated a snippet of “Love Drunk.” For the night’s encore, Johnson returned with his acoustic guitar and played an emotional rendition of “Two Is Better Than One.” This ballad was written by Johnson and another pretty famous singer/songwriter, Taylor Swift. If you love pop-punk or just want to get out and hear some great music and have a blast, then this tour is for you. Be sure to follow all of these amazing artists online (links below).

 

Boys Like Girls:

Martin Johnson: Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar

John Keefe: Drums, Percussion

Gregory James: Bass, Backing Vocals

Jamel Hawke: Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals

 

 

Setlist:

1.Love Drunk

2.Five Minutes to Midnight

3.BLOOD AND SUGAR

4.She’s Got a Boyfriend Now

5.Dance Hall Drug

6.Language

7.Heels Over Head

8.The First Time

9.Up Against The Wall

10.Stuck in the Middle

11.Thunder

12.Born In The USA

13.Heart Heart Heartbreak

14.MIRACLE

15.The Outfield

16.Broken Man

17.Vindicated

18.Life of the Party

19.Hero/Heroine

20.On Top of the World

21.CRY

22.The Outside

23.The Great Escape

Encore:

24.Two Is Better Than One 

 

 

 

Follow LØLØ Online:

 

Follow Four Year Strong Online:

 

Follow State Champs Online:

Follow Boys Like Girls Online:





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